Looks like our friend Chris wrote another film review. This time it’s for Battle: Los Angeles. It came out less than a month ago, and I still haven’t seen it yet. One of these days I’ll get around to it (just like I plan on seeing Sucker Punch, finishing reading Divine Misfortune, rework and update my portfolio site, finish the Ed Wood paper mask project I started two weeks ago, rework the categories on this site, finish the new background, complete my latest iStock upload, etc…). Any how, check out what Chris thought of it and let us know what you think.
It’s never easy to lose respect for someone you thought highly of.
I always appreciated Roger Ebert’s take on films. True, dishing on flicks was his job, and I didn’t always agree with the guy (he called Carpenter’s The Thing “disappointing,” while I still say it’s the best movie ever made in the modern horror genre). But he had a good head on his shoulders for the little things I tend to miss, such as plot, tone, atmosphere, characterization, dialogue, and, well, everything else. It’s important, as a film critic, to be able to see exactly where a film went wrong, since you’re going to have to explain why a film was a miserable, steaming turd, or, on the other end, why a man should be perfectly willing to kill his entire family for a chance to see the film’s next showing.
I am not Roger Ebert. I’m thinner, younger, and probably not as educated. I’m certainly less successful. However, I watch movies for what is right or wrong with them, too. My slacker view of movies is good for the average movie-goer, though, since most people don’t spend nine-to-five in a cinemaplex.
Anyway, back to the movie. This is a little flick called Battle: Los Angeles and I’ll tell you that it’s another point where my esteemed superior and I disagree.
The breakdown is this: NASA spots a bunch of incoming meteors. Nothing like Armageddon, though; no, these will cause an interesting light-show, and make Geology sexy again for ten minutes while they’re studying the meteors that strike land. Only one problem. They don’t hit at terminal velocity.
For those of you less versed in Physics than I am, that means that they are slowing down before they hit the planet. (Don’t worry; they had to explain it to me, too.) Also, during the re-entry burn (entry burn?), we find out that the core of these rocks seem to be metal. Cue the scrambling of every military on Earth. Now, this is, more or less, where the movie picks up. Aaron Eckhart plays Sgt. Nantz, a soon-to-be-retired Marine in charge of a crew of leathernecks out of Pendleton. They get scrambled, and shipped to a Forward Operations Base in Los Angeles, which has been hit pretty hard.
Nantz’s squad is told to move into the enemy beachhead to a police station. Inside the station are civilians and a few police who are in desperate need of an armed escort back to Earth. Oh, and, by the way, B-52s are gonna blow the entire city of Santa Monica off the map, so they might want to be back on Our Side of the Line before they do.
Now, I said before that I really appreciate originality. I do. And you won’t find it here. This, right here, is ID: 4 for the ground-pounders. It’s Black Ops meets Terminator: Future War. The aliens are rugged. So much so, in fact, that the marines have to do an ad-hoc vivisection to find out how to kill the bloody things.
I liked this movie for exactly the same reason Ebert hated it. The combat scenes are frighteningly fast and furious. The Enemy moves intelligently, uses cover, and fires from concealment. The explosions cover everything in gray smoke, making squad tactics a bit sloppier, and making friendly fire and dead civilians very real to the characters. And they act like it. What’s more, Ebert points out that the dialogue is almost entirely short hollered phrases: “Contact! We got contact!” “Frag out!” “Go! Go! Go!”
While this is true during the combat scenes, and there are many, many combat scenes, the dialogue and characterization is effective enough for me to almost shed a tear near the end of the film. Besides, was Ebert really looking for expansive dialogue in a movie about combat-beleaguered marines? Would you?
I did find it impossible to watch this film without thinking about the Marines that are in harm’s way across the globe. The combat felt fast, frantic, and, in turns, desperate, but, above all, it felt real. So did the relationships in this film. In the end, though, this movie is about the Marines, and, so long as you don’t come in expecting Shakespeare, you’ll be pleased.