Thursday, March 17, 2011

Film Review - Battle: Los Angeles

Hey All. Or rather, Hoo-rah!

That's right, I'm reviewing the current critical bomb and box-office smash Battle: Los Angeles. So what's the odds that a big snotty wanker like me is going to hate this?

No sir, l'm here today to honour the brave men of 1st Company Cliché, the bravest marines Aaron Eckhart has ever known, especially Private 8 Year-Old Boy, Corporal Cannon-Fodder and Lieutenant Ethnic Minority. From their mixed racial backgrounds to the mandatory one gay porn-star mustache per platoon, these soldiers bravely bore the burden of simultaneously battling all that was gloriously OTT from Black Hawk Down, Starship Trooper and Cloverfield. As I said before, Hoo-rah!

So Awesome, RATM Wrote About It 11 Years Before It Happened

Staff Sargent Michael Nantz (Arron Eckhart) is our protagonist, the lone survivor of a suicidal operation in Iraq that saw his old squad wiped out. As he will repeatedly point out to us in a fashion most emo, they were the bravest Marines he had ever known. On the eve of his retirement some thoughtless aliens come along to ruin his party. Also, to kill us all and take our water. Thus he must go once more into the breach, assisting newly graduated Lieutenant Martinez (Roman Rodriguez, in what I assume is a slight homage to Aliens) and his squad of war movie favourites including angry black guy with issues regarding Nantz, white virgin rookie who looks worried/constipated a lot and hard-as-nails female pilot Santos (Michelle Rodriguez, fresh off her piloting tour of Planet Pandora)

So while the set-up is uninspired, the rest of the movie is so tongue-in-cheek that it probably caused director Jonathan Liebesman permanent disfiguration. Whether it's the soldiers stopping their slow and totally exposed advance up a dusty street to LOUDLY play with a dog, a helicopter refusing to take children because it's already full of barely-injured Marines or several of the most hilariously "dramatic" speeches since former president George Bush, this film is a hoot. Its silly to the point of borderline nonsensical at times and over-flowing with wounded American self-importance and pride. It's the kind of film where every problem can be over-come with a rousing Marine Corp chorus of "Retreat? Hell No! Retreat? Hell No!" Those points are not criticism, rather selling points for Battle : Los Angeles, one of the funniest alien invasion films ever. Even if it doesn't seem to realise it half the time.

Semper Fi? Semper Fun!

Even if the plot is predictable (the biggest shock being some of the minority characters actually survive) the effects are at least passable. Some, such as the flying drones, look like cheap green-screen effects. Others, such as the first landing and the aliens squadrons forming on rooftops look excellent. Overall the effects do their job pretty well and even if the cracks appear at times it only adds to the silly fun. Sometimes the film's effects can be quite original, with an interesting steam-punk alien motif and a (vaguely anime) Walker-Tank stand-off being one of my favourite moments of the film.

The acting is solid and the cast manage to deliver their lines without rolling their eyes or winking directly at the camera. Aaron Eckhart shows that he can solidly head whatever kind of film he damn well pleases, making his character compelling even when he should be pointed and laughed at. The other characters are developed enough so that we care if they die but not so much that we will recall it ten minutes later. The aliens on the other hand are not developed in the slightest and only serve as a guilt-free exercise in slaughter for the American Army, who were probably dying for a real challenge after years of bombing third world countries anyhow.

Nope, No Terrorists Here

One interesting thing about Battle : Los Angeles is it's non-stop action. After the fighting starts there are very few breaks in an almost 2 hour running time. While numbness does set in later in the film, I was impressed at how immersed the audience gets in the fighting, which is mostly done in a hand-held, quasi-POV (point of view) style, giving the film the Cloverfield feel I mentioned earlier. The intensity this generates keeps the film from ever feeling too tired and generates a lot of the entertainment, even if it is of the mostly brain-dead variety. This has the knock-on effect of making this entire film feel like the audience is inside a computer game at times.

HAXXX! "Pew Pew Pew". Lol, N00bs.

So while a film that includes making a little boy an honorary Marine (and of course pointing out how he is the bravest Marine Aaron Eckhart has ever known) should be given an awful score, I can't lie and pretend I didn't have a great time watching it. Is it dumb? Yes. Is it hammy? Yes. Is it more enjoyable then so much of the crap I typically end up seeing in the cinema? Hoo-rah! It certainly isn't smart or life changing, just simple, easy to digest entertainment. So consider the score below to be a recommendation for anyone who thought Starship Trooper was insanely enjoyable and not just in a false patriotism kind of way. 

Otherwise, just give it a two out of five and go see The King's Speech again instead.

Rating : 4 out of 5 - Regretful Alien Bastards, "Who Regret Coming To Earth, Regret Invading And Regret Getting Their Asses Kicked By The Marine Corp. (Hoo-Rah!)"

See If You Like : Starship Trooper, The Term "Hoo-Rah", Amazing Advertising Campaigns (Seriously, The Trailers And Posters For This Are As Note-Worthy As The Film Itself).

Til next time!

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