You know the difference between BLACKHAWK DOWN and BATTLE: LOS ANGELES? The first was directed by Ridley Scott, a renowned and highly talented filmmaker who generally makes memorable films that people continue to talk about for years and years. The second was directed by Jonathan Liebesman, a “filmmaker” who’s directed such abominations as DARKNESS FALLS, the remake of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, and a couple of small films no one gives a shit about. If I really wanted to see a story about a group of poorly developed characters who utter cheesy, clichéd dialogue and who spend 99% of the movie running from one environment to another while taking on baddie aliens, I would have played a fucking video game. With a video game, I would have at least been a participant in the action instead of spending 2 hours of my life watching the limpless, ADD-targeted, shit heap of a movie called BATTLE: LOS ANGELES. As a good friend of mine pointed out last night, if the trailer to a movie never contains any dialogue from the movie and instead gives you a short music video with a lot of money shots and no indication of what the story is about, that’s a bad sign.

This is where I normally summarize the plot of a movie, but BATTLE: LOS ANGELES has the embarrassing distinction of literally having no plot to describe. Even if I wanted to piece together a story for this film, I can’t because it really really really has no story. Marines versus aliens. Done. Its that retardedly simple and it makes you wonder why the fuck the studio bothered to hire a screenwriter for this film. How long can a screenplay for this type of movie be anyway? 5 pages?

BATTLE: LOS ANGELES spends the first 10-15 minutes of its running time introducing us to the marines who comprise the group of soldiers from whose perspective we see the alien invasion. The characters are two-dimensional cardboard cutouts who lack any depth. The problem with the characters isn’t with their individual backstories, but rather with the insufficient amount of time that is spent to establish them. The filmmakers probably recognize that their target audience mainly consists of morons who possess the attention span of a fruitfly. ‘Character’ is most likely a foreign concept to their under-developed brains and the filmmakers figured it would be best to ignore that aspect of the movie. Nevertheless, for the few of us who do appreciate good quality movies, the lack of any character development severely handicaps the film from the very start. BLACKHAWK DOWN had the same challenge this film did in terms of having to introduce and establish many characters in a short of amount of time. However, Ridley Scott was able to make much better use of the little screen time he had to establish his characters and connect them with his audience. In contrast, BATTLE: LOS ANGELES Jonathan Liebesman rushes through introducing his characters through poorly acted, poorly dialogued, and unimaginatively conceived backstories that did absolutely nothing for me to connect in any way with the characters. What’s more, because none of these characters are worth remembering, you have no idea (nor do you care) who the fuck dies throughout the film.

There are only two well known actors in the film. The main character is played by Aaron Eckhart, who I think was wondering when the hell he would get paid for making this shitty movie and hoping that his thespian career was not forever ruined for choosing this role. He’s actually not bad in the film and I felt bad for him for having to make the best out of the piss poor dialogue. Eckhart always delivers a good performance and I commend him for taking this script and making the most out of it. The other well known actor in BATTLE: LOS ANGELES is Michelle Rodriguez, who got a few laughs from the audience when she first appears. Rodriguez pretty much continues right where she left off from her AVATAR character. She clearly doesn’t mind typecasting herself, but seeing her play virtually the same exact character is a bit comical.

Instead of showing us the entire invasion, the filmmakers opted to portray the war through the perspective of a single group of marines in a CLOVERFIELD hand-held camera style. As a result, you get an idea of the scope of the invasion only through the encounters the marines have with the aliens and the newscasts displayed on televisions. I didn’t mind that so much as I minded how despite the obvious efforts the filmmakers take to convey the scope of the invasion, I was still left with an underwhelming feeling. You see a lot of destruction all over the place, but we’re in Santa Monica and Santa Monica is probably the worst fucking setting to illustrate for audiences how globe-engulfing this alien invasion is. What’s more, I know the city has been evacuated by the military, but I refuse to believe that governmental efforts to evacuate millions of people is going to be so efficient that not a single soul is left in the streets of L.A. I wanted to see absolute mayhem where people are running through streets and getting slaughtered en masse. What’s more, if you’re going to set your film in L.A. (or any well-known city), how can you not use famous landmarks? I wanted to see a fucked up Hollywood, Disneyland, Universal Studios, etc. Merely showing physical destruction and abandoned cars and buildings is not enough. My point is that with a film like this, a studio SHOULD hire a proven director instead of someone who is simply going to say “yes” to every directive coming out of a studio exec meeting. What this film needed was a feeling of epicness and that’s not usually going to be accomplished by a novice director. In basic terms, BATTLE: LOS ANGELES utterly fails to achieve an epic scope.

I can go on and on how bad this movie is, but I’m going to spare you any further details. BATTLE: LOS ANGELES is a perfect example of a film that’s made by studio executives whose only goal is the almighty dollar. They were able to identify every successful or cool element from all the war movies from the past two decades and put them in this film, thinking that is all they need to pull off a successful movie. Unfortunately, when it all comes together, you end up with a loud, obnoxious, surprisingly boring movie that contains no suspense or build-up towards anything. This film is a tiny bit better than your SyFy movie of the week and that’s only because of a higher production value. Other than that, it’s the same old shit. We’re due for a lot of alien movies this coming year and if this film is any indication of what those films will be like, I definitely know what I’ll be skipping later this year.

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