Two word review: extremely silly.
More than two word review…
I have come to the conclusion that almost all science fiction movies are *not* for fans of science fiction, but for fans of movies that go bang, boom, ping, clank, smack-wallah. Because in almost every sci-fi movie I’ve seen recently (exception: “Inception”), the whole house of shiny, explodey cards is built on a foundation of… WTF?
“Battle: Los Angeles” is about fighting. That’s really all it’s about. With “battle” in the title, this is to be expected, and I went in expecting what was to be expected. What I would have been delighted with, though, was a reason for the fighting that holds water… Spoiler alert: that’s an in-joke for those of us who’ve seen the movie, as the aliens come to earth to suck up our sea water and use it for fuel.
Yep. They’re here for the H20.
As I said: extremely silly.
The idea that you’d expend the kind of energy necessary to travel from another star system in order to spend more energy launching a massive ground attack in order to spend more energy sucking water up into space… insanely silly. Unless these aliens have figured out a way to do some kind of really amazing cold fusion, getting water out of the gravity well would almost certainly take more energy than it’s worth. Especially when frozen water has been found on many asteroids in our solar system, and they wouldn’t require, well… all that killin’.
At one point in the movie, an expert on the teevee says that the aliens want our liquid water because “Nowhere else does it exist on the surface of a planet… we are unique…” In our solar system, yes… H20 isn’t hanging out in great limpid pools anywhere else. But you could use a LOT less energy to melt ice than it takes to go down to a planet, battle a few billion house apes, and lug it back into orbit.
Just… so silly.
ALSO… I would like to know why certain directors feel that an almost constant use of the shaky cam somehow makes things more… realistic. It doesn’t. It just gives me a headache. A couple seconds of “Yow! Camera jiggles!” when a bomb hits? Sure. But why when you’re doing a close up of the hero? It’s just irritating, unhelpful and self indulgent. We’ve been seeing movies for 100+ years now. We understand how to suspend our disbelief without you making it look like you shot your $100 million movie on an iPhone.
The action? Meh. Some OK firefights, but really… nothing you wouldn’t get in a good WW2 movie. The aliens aren’t that alien; they’re kind ooky and squishy on the inside and wear cool armor and jump around. But they’re bilaterally symmetrical bipeds with fingers, feet, big heads, etc. They ride things that look like giant lawn mowers. Their drone fighter ships look like… pincushions. They shoot guns that make gun sounds with a bit of a tracer trail and some extra “radiation” damage (sometimes).
It’s all very lazy, frankly. And they didn’t even have the cathartic “Wow! They just blew up a huge building!” stuff. You saw broken buildings and lots of rubble… but not while it happened. Just after the fact, from the Marines’ standpoint. And, to be brutally honest, the fun of watching sci-fi devastation was more than a bit dulled by all the images that are coming out of Japan after the quake/tsunami. It’s not fair, of course, to compare a real world disaster with a sci-fictional one… but it’s almost impossible not to.
Aaron Eckhart did OK. He was playing a tight-lipped, hardened Marine sergeant less than a week from retirement… Yes, they played that old saw. And they showed the nice Marine kid kissing his pregnant wife’s belly. And the nice Marine kid picking out flowers for his wedding in less than a week. And the nice Marine kid who’d never had sex. All of the above. Yes.
So… the verdicts.
Flick Value (ie, Was It Fun): C-. Some good booms, some good fights, the acting was OK enough to drag you through the truly shallow and silly plot. The aliens were lackluster, but watching the nice veterinarian lady figure out how to kill them more easily was kinda fun. If you have a value cinema (the “Buck Flick” we call ours), I’d wait the two weeks until this swings around if you must see it.
Film Value (ie, Was It Good): D. Just say “no” to excessive, meaningless shaky cam. Do a bit of homework about water. Share the script with a Freshman writing professor. Give me something… anything… new.