Here, something to read in between recaps if you’re bored.
Let’s talk about movies for a second, shall we? Good, because I’m going to do it anyway. I’m not a film student nor a film maker. If you gave me a camera, a green screen and a budget I wouldn’t be able to pull off something better than those staged America’s Funniest home videos. I’m also not a professional movie critic and couldn’t tell you anything about directorial styles, art direction, framing or anything else that film students love to go on about at the drop of a hat. That being said, I sometimes love picking apart movies. Fair warning there are a lot of spoilers ahead so skip it if you really want to see Battle: Los Angeles unsullied. More below the fold.
As the credits rolled into Battle: Los Angeles I was already annoyed. Not the movie’s fault, or at least this movie. It was that the theater decided that during the pre-movie commercials we were going to watch the trailer for the newest Pirates movie plus commentary from the retards that worked on it over and over. All before watching the trailer, again, during the actual trailers. Look Disney, I know the Pirates movies are the first bankable property you’ve been able to successfully market to the older than twelve crowd but stop it. You had to lift the plot from a completely unrelated book. Doesn’t that tell you something? ‘Gee, our staff writers are completely spent on ideas Bob. How do we make another movie so Depp can wander about drunk in period clothing?’ ‘I know, Phil. We’ll import a plot from somewhere else.’ Screw you Disney, even if you paid for it, that’s a crap move.
Again, not fair to Battle but I don’t care at this point. Then we began with the obligatory establishing scenes where the important characters are introduced. We get to see them doing ordinary things like getting drunk, signing retirement papers and preparing for a wedding. These are the main characters who’re going to shout a lot and die dramatically.
Then something strange happened. We switch to a scene where a wife is helping a soldier put on the lieutenant bars on his uniform and this was the only one so far that showed anyone at home. My prescience kicked in and I said to myself ‘this man just got promoted to lieutenant and his wife is pregnant.’ Five seconds later he goes out the door but stops to kiss her baby bump which she reveals at the last second by turning sideways. ‘And this,’ I said to myself. ‘is to make it all the more poignant when he dies.’
That’s when I started counting off the familiar characters. There’s the green lieutenant who’s fresh and in charge but completely inexperienced. The really young guy who’s a virgin. The guy hoping to get back alive to marry his girlfriend. The guy who’s lost someone to combat, his brother. The grizzled old sergeant who’s lost men in combat(guess which two characters have a connection?). The guy with PTSD and a few other stock soldiers swept up from other military movies. All that’s missing is the tough girl marine played by Michele Rodriguez. Don’t worry though, she shows up later. I wish I was kidding.
Aaron Eckhart plays the lead role as Staff Sergeant Nantz who ends up in charge of a squad(my apologies if I have the terminology wrong) when another sergeant does…something. Actually it’s not really clear why he’s put in charge. I guess someone higher up was just like ‘blimey, we need someone in charge who’s grizzled and tough. Better get that guy Nantz on the job.’ It’s supposed to be awkward and hilarious because he just signed papers that means he get to retire. I kept waiting for him to tell us how he was “too old” for this during a firefight.
The aliens, conveniently, come out of nowhere riding ships disguised as asteroids though the movie constantly refers to them as meteors. Looks guys, meteoroids(meteors are the trail) are the actual objects and those are usually smaller than ten meters. An alien ship would probably be bigger that and might be mistaken for an asteroid. Maybe take twenty bucks from the budget and buy an astronomer diner while you fact check the script, guys.
Luckily for us CNN is everywhere and all over this and there’s a science consultant who pops up on TV to answer the important questions in passing. Why are they here? For our resources, obviously. It’s our water they want and to colonize the place. How does this jack-off know this? I secretly began to suspect he was a defector who sold us out over the promise of ruling the remaining human slaves once we were all transported to the mines of Titan.
How else can he know things he can’t possibly otherwise? They’re here to colonize? Why the hell do they want that? Maybe they’ll just load up the oceans in an intergalactic bathtub and be on their way. I mean, really, Just what the hell is so damn great about Earth that every alien race wants to own it? Are we a just a nice tucked away planet at the end of a cul-de-sac in the universal suburbs? Is the Milky Way hot property that’s going to explode as the planetary housing market inflates beyond reason? Are we unwittingly playing part in a show called ‘Flip This Planet’?
So once we’re done assembling the Marines, for it is always Marines versus aliens, they get into a helicopter for the obligatory flyover scene. They go into the city to rescue civilians before a bombing run and head into a police station where everyone’s dead except for five civilians.
Nantz and a veterinarian dissects an alien and figures out how to kill them, right around the area of the heart(for a human). How convenient. Also they meet up with another group with Michele Rodriguez who was doing recon for the US Air force.
A helicopter comes in to pick up the wounded but not the civilians. What happens shortly after it lifts off? If you said a magical pony shows up and prances around farting rainbows them you need to go back to watching eighties cartoons. If you said it explodes and everyone onboard dies then you too could work for California psychics and/or the movie industry.
Then it’s up to Nantz to hold everyone together as they head to a temporary base. There are enough dramatic death scenes to make Hamlet blanch on the way and, of course, the lieutenant dies blowing up a couple of aliens. During the escape they find out the alien’s weakness, a giant control ship that runs all the flying drones that give them air support. Go figure that Nantz goes in to take one out that’s park in L.A. instead of escaping. This movie is basically Halo set on earth with real Marines filling in for the Spartans.
That’s another thing. Everything is about the Marines. Everyone in this shouts oorah with each exhalation as they punch their arms deep into alien gut, for freedom! The only other member of the military that’s allowed to be useful is Michele and she gets adopted as an honorary Marine by the end. The police all died out in the first wave. I guess that the L.A.P.D., having absolutely no assault rifles or military training, being as non of them are ever ex-military, collapsed like a paper bag in the rain and all the other branches, like the National Guard, were out to lunch.
The message of this movie was pretty clear. Only the Marines can save us from faceless aliens. The one time a civilian did anything, he picked up a gun and shot one(ping!) alien, he died. I was damned surprised there wasn’t a recruiter waiting outside the theater with a poster that said ‘Join the Marines, kill aliens. You don’t hate America, do you?’
The plot borrows heavily from Independence day and visually from District 9. It’s like someone at the studio was like ‘maybe if we mix the two we can make as much money as both combined.’ Look, the aliens have an Achilles heel that’s easily exploitable, now jostle the camera around like a cerebral palsy victim tweaking out on meth and collect profit.
And goddamn it Hollywood, enough with the shaky cam crap. I get it, you think it conveys a sense of “realism” but drop it already. My eyes don’t bob around like the head of a Pit Bull grafted onto the neck of a Chihuahua so your cameras don’t need to either. Years of development went into making steady filming cameras, feel free to use them. Or at least stop the shaking during stationary scenes like when two people are having a conversation in their office.
Then there’s Eckhat’s facial expressions which never seem to deviate from mild interest at something else to squinting/shouting intensity. Every time he came on screen I kept expecting him to start arguing about ice cream or telling me he was Batman to try and lure out the alien Joker. ‘So you aliens think water should be the only fuel allowed? Well I come from America and we believe in choices. That’s why you should believe in Harvey Dent.’
Ekhart’s not the only one phoning it in though. The director, being retarded, leaves in a hilarious bit of inconsistency early on. See, at first there’s nothing but fog and we don’t get to see the aliens really clearly. Marines start getting pulled off screen just like in any standard horror flick. There’s even the overdone scene where one gets grabbed by the legs by something unseen and is scrabbling helplessly until his friends come save him.
Why are the aliens doing this? ‘Boom! Kerpow! Bang!’ But really, movie, why were the aliens taking people alive at first? The movie expects you to forget about this as they filmed enough explosions to give Michael Bay morning wood.
The last scene is probably the most insulting. Nantz is established right off to be done with the military. He feels old, tired and he’s not feeling great because he’s seen people die. He even tells the guy who’s signing his paperwork that Marines have an expiration date. Clearly this guy is ready to be done.
Then, for no reason, him and the remaining squad decide to go back out and keep shooting aliens. This is after him and those following him get to an actual safe base. As soon as they arrive someone tells Nantz, in a scene extremely reminiscent of Independence Day, that they’re relaying the alien’s weakness all over the country though no word on whether or not it was being telegraphed in Morse code. The commanding officer tells him to go have breakfast and then get some rest.
Instead, Nantz goes into the nearest tent and starts reloading him magazines. The other Marines are clearly inspired and start loading up too before they head out. The commander asks what they’re doing as they head back towards a waiting helicopter. ‘We already had breakfast, sir.’ Says Nantz.
Yeah, I’m sure that you’re perfectly fine to go back out into the field after thirty six hours without sleep or food. These Marines, unlike actual soldiers, can run on pure patriotism and alien ass kicking. And surely it wouldn’t be the least bit dangerous when the overly stressed, over tired and hungry soldiers start hallucinating on the battlefield and start fragging their own because they think the aliens have started tearing off the faces of their comrades and wearing them.
I found a new podcast that I think you might like. It’s called “How Did This Get Made?” and all they do is watch a bad movie and discuss how horrible it is. It’s pretty funny and something tells me you enjoy watching bad movies. (That’s assuming you know what a podcast is.)
I think it’s pretty safe to say he knows what a podcast is, given that he’s on one.
Dats da joke.
XP Apparently I have my idiot hat on today. I don’t think Tim has ever mentioned manga-pulse on here, so I assumed you had found his blog through other means and were actually sincere.
It’s fine. I know some poeple have found it through other means. Perhaps if I used my MP name on here you would have known.