IF BATTLE LOS ANGELES WERE A VIDEO GAME
IT WOULD BE ONE HELL OF A FIRST LEVEL
Except… Awesome first levels are never enough and Battle: LA doesn’t quite give you a full game.
When reviews started to surface for this particular invasion, I was extremely worried but intrigued. I was beyond pumped to see it but I felt deflated when the tomato meter continued to fall. The popular consensus was that the film was full of intense and sometimes dizzying action but nothing else. There was no story driving the bus.
Film review site Cut The Crap Movie Reviews said:
“Perfect for anyone who hates stories and wishes every movie was more like Call of Duty.”
Roger Ebert said:
“Young men: If you attend this crap with friends who admire it, tactfully inform them they are idiots. Young women: If your date likes this movie, tell him you’ve been thinking it over, and you think you should consider spending some time apart.”
Both are negative but guess which one I agree with? I’ll give you a hint… I LOVE Call of Duty. So I caught a matinee by myself to see if it’s as bad as people were saying.
I got to the theater early and was unfortunately greeted by a group of loud and obnoxious kids. I live by simple rules. Talk all you want during the pre show but shut your mouth when the movie starts. They seemed to be having fun. It is March Break after all so I gave them the benefit of the doubt.
Still, someone must have been annoyed because a manager walked in and the kids instantly settled down. It was fear. It occurred to me immediately that they probably weren’t old enough.
The manager asked them for their ticket stubs and one by one they declared themselves 14. Literally, one kid remained and they were home free except:
Kid! It’s March Break! Lie! Live a little bit and lie!
I’m 90% positive he was there because his “14″ year old brother was forced to bring him along. His brother was the first to lower his head as the group was led out of the theater. Probably to enjoy a matinee screening of Rango because no one saw Mars Needs Moms right?
Thankfully, the theater was a lot quieter as the movie started but I still felt like the kids were missing out. Oh well. Should have lied.
I thought the first 30 minutes of the film were pretty solid. Establishing a group of marines in a short period of time has been done better but this was still a good effort. It is what it is…
Then, the action began and didn’t let up. It’s frantic, endless and it was exactly like a video game. It was clear that the filmmakers intended to create a ‘real’ war zone. Give them credit. They set out to make a sci fi war film and they definitely reached that goal.
All the toys are in use here from shaky documentary style camera angles to state of the art visual effects. But that can only get you so far if the story can’t keep up.
There are little moments of exposition where we learn more about the aliens and what they are after but it was rare. I would have liked to know even more but Battle: Los Angeles isn’t really about the alien’s motivations. It’s about a small group of marines trying to survive.
In that sense, it’s a solid B movie full of guns, explosions and money shots except…
All of them are in the trailers! Once the Aliens land, or crash slightly in this case, we are immediately told that humans have the advantage in the air because they have no ships. Not ONE fan bought into that setup because their flying machines of death are heavily featured in the trailers. Nice try though.
I definitely bought into the hype of this movie. Independence Day meets District 9? I joined fans of Alien movies everywhere thinking we were in for Black Hawk Down meets destructive aliens from outer space. It didn’t really happen as we hoped.
Action = Good
Story = N/A
Battle: Los Angeles is full of big ideas but the movie as a whole feels like one giant setup without the payoff. Like the first level of a video game meant to set up the world and introduce you to the characters and challenges you’re going to face.
The difference is, video games continue once the first level is over and you learn more about the story and the heroes involved. In a movie, the credits roll and you go home. End of story.
I found myself hoping for an ending that provided enough closure to justify the huge effects filled action crammed into the film. I was let down. The ending is as intense as it is cool but it lacked an overall emotional attachment that makes action movies like Inception great.
Regardless, it’s an alien invasion movie that full of explosions and thrilling moments. This is what they wanted and they succeeded. However, I wanted more and it appears many critics did as well.
My one major complaint was how little we saw the creatures. If you asked me to describe them I wouldn’t be able too. They are rarely given screen time I’m pretty sure they don’t have faces let alone personalities. Maybe they needed to save money on effects or better still, they wanted them to remain mysterious for a possible sequel…
I’m the first person to admit I love summer movies for the action and eye candy. I should have LOVED Battle: Los Angeles but I didn’t. There needs to be more than just an excuse to blow up cars. It needs to be deeper than the first level of a video game.
If they make a sequel, I’m willing to bet it will be better. Level One was decent but I’m ready for some story now.
Bring on Level 2.
Do you think they will make a sequel?