Saturday, June 4, 2011

Reviewing: Battle LA (2011)

“Maybe I can help… I’m a veterinarian.”

I am somewhat an action junkie, I love action movies. As long as the plot is at least a bit bearable and has great action sequences I can’t complain. I love watching ridiculously unrealistic scenes of explosions and guys taking on a hundred guys by himself, and everything else about action movies. Jonathan Liebesman’s Battle: LA, on the other hand, is an annoying, loud, crapfest.  It stars the talented Aaron Eckhart (Thank You For Smoking, The Dark Knight), Michelle Rodriguez (Avatar), Michael Pena (Crash), and Bridget Moynahan (I, Robot).  For the above actors mentioned, the acting is fine, especially in the case of Eckhart, who plays a great action hero. The rest of the actors fall short, giving mediocre and for the most part bad performances. The only thing that was enjoyable about this movie was the fun I had completely ripping it apart.

The film takes place over the first 24 hours of the invasion of aliens on earth. It centers on a squad of soldiers in Los Angeles who go into the field to find survivors and to make contact, if possible, with the alien invaders. They are told beforehand that they have a few hours to get back to HQ before bombs are dropped over the area, so they must get back before detonation. And so, the movie begins.

Eckhart plays the troubled SSgt. Michael Nantz stationed in L.A. The first 20 minutes of the movie is devoted to small introductions of Nantz, and the rest of his team mates. The writers try to make you feel for the characters but it is very hard to do that when every single one is a clichéd character type we’ve all seen a hundred times. You have the jittery young new kid, hickish white guy, stereotypical black guy, nerdy guy and so on. Audiences are expected to sympathize for every character in the movie but that is hard when the intro is rushed and the acting is mediocre.

The script itself is terrible. It consists of soldiers swearing and yelling and a few scenes in-between filled with corny and bad dialogue. I already knew going into the movie that it had an all American, flag-waving base to it. I mean come on, Los Angeles the last bastion of humanity?  So I was just expecting fun action. I tried accepting the movie for what it was, a mindless, action-packed ride, but the movie failed to even provide that. It’s mindless and action-packed, but not in the good way. The action sequences are bland, boring, and annoying altogether. The move had terrible camerawork and cinematography, one shot will be some guy screaming and the next few shots will be filled with ridiculous and incomprehensible action sequences. And the movie has okay special and visual effects. Judging from the cost of the film, the effects should have been spectacular.

The origin of the aliens is never known much like most invasion movies, which is fine. I like the alien invaders from god knows where scenario. Sadly, that is the only interesting thing about them. Costume design for the aliens is hilarious; their armour looks like it was plated with pieces of the mechanical shark from James and the Giant Peach and their equipment and ships look like pieces of scrap yard junk thrown together. These aliens have perfected space travel but can only make machinery that looks like something out of The Road Warrior. The guy who was in charge of design should never be allowed to work in the business ever again.

All in all, this movie was just plain bad. It was more predictable than a romantic comedy: I was guessing what was going to happen next and there were not too many times that I was wrong. There was nothing to like about it and the only good to come from it is hopefully many action movie deals for Eckhart. If you just want to see explosions even if they suck, then this movie is for you. Battle: LA is one of those movies that would be forgettable, but then you remember how bad it is. I would rather watch a Michael Bay movie than watch this again.

Critique: 3/10

Personal enjoyment: 3/10

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