Saturday, July 30, 2011

Battle:LA Review

Alien movies are usually fun and entertaining up to a certain point. The good ones like “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” or “Signs” do an excellent job of building up suspense and wonder but then at the end they make the mistake of showing the alien too much and it ruins the wonderful buildup. This is especially true in “Signs.” You feel the mystery get sucked right out of the whole thing.

However, I’ll gladly see one of those movies again before I endure Jonathan Liebersman’s “Battle: Los Angeles” a second time, which is a painfully terrible film in the dreaded alien/ action movie genre, that includes movies like “Independence Day” and “War of the Worlds.”

 The movie didn’t know the word “stop.” It needed to breathe once in a while, maybe take time to add another layer onto its paper-thin plot or develop characters, but no time for that. Not when there can be another explosion or another gunfight. The movie was just one CGI battle scene after another. In fact forget “after another” the movie was one long battle scene.

From the very beginning we are thrown into the middle of the action. The Aliens have arrived from...wherever, and now the war is on to save LA from being destroyed.  The film is like “Black Hawk Down” but with aliens.

Except  “Black Hawk Down” had more plot development than this. Plus it was based on a true story, about real people and an event that changed our military forever. It’s very hard to care about a movie where aliens invade the earth. That is unless you have main characters to care about, which “Battle: LA” doesn’t have. And it seemed like Liebersman was aware of this because he took liberty of labeling them when they first appeared, as if we wouldn’t know who they were. But even with the nametags there was still confusion.

            In an interview, Liebersman said he wanted to make a realistic alien/war movie., rawing inspiration from the beautifully photographed combat scenes in “Black Hawk” and “Saving Private Ryan.” But unfortunately that “realism” translated into shaky, sometimes blurry camera shots, where half the time you couldn’t tell what was going on. When people died you didn’t care because you didn’t really know who they were.  Liebersman should have left the nametags on the entire film.

 Now picture that queasy confusion for 116 minutes (way too long). Then throw in a boring script (written by Christopher Bertolini) filled with corny action movie lines, and a couple war movie clichés (in the midst of battle one of the soldiers loses his hearing temporarily and uses that time to stare intensely at the violence) and you should have a good idea of what the movie is like,

The film, well, more like the title is loosely inspired by a supposed enemy air attack that took place over Los Angeles in February1942, known as the Battle of Los Angeles. The event was later called a false alarm but some people considered the attackers to be alien aircrafts and thought that the government was somehow involved.

Why didn’t the producers try to go with this and make the movie a conspiracy suspense/thriller? I guess they thought the general audience would rather watch another action movie and I suppose that’s probably the case, sadly.

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