What we have here is movie cross-pollination: the director/writer/studio bee landed on the Independence Day flower and took the plot, then moved on to Black Hawk Down and took the gritty, urban combat point of view and finally landed on District 9 to take the aliens. From all movie-making pollen we get a lot of good little bits that just don’t add up to make a stronger movie.
Battle: Los Angeles is the alien invasion story told through the window of war cliche’s and combat unit melodramas. But without anything to really hang its hat on to make it unique or really good, except the quality reputation of Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight & Thank You for Smoking).
Eckhart portrays Staff Sgt. Mike Nantz, a veteran Marine who embodies the war movie cliche and lays emotional weight to the many twists and turns of a largely unfocused story.
In no way can Eckhart been blamed for any of this film’s mediocrities; I would be willing to bet the farm that Columbia Pictures and Relativity Media backed up the gravy train caboose and made it fiscally irresponsible to not do the movie. You can’t blame a guy for wanting a pay day.
And Eckhart delivers some quality to the film, but there was no amount of acting craft that could put a shine on this combination of overused war cliche’s and bad one-liners. But from the perspective of the popcorn buying, bathtub of soda drinking, movie goer it delivers the summer blockbuster experience a little early.
Just without any of the quality banter of Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum, or the stirring speeches of President/Fighter Jet Pilot Bill Pulman. Or the grit and harsh combat realism of Eric Bana’s Delta Operative in the Somali wild west; although the end of Battle: Los Angeles is a straight rip off of Black Hawk Down.
And now you don’t have to see the movie! Oh wait, I should have written spoiler alert up there…my bad.
If you are in Battle: Los Angeles for the plot though you were going to lose regardless. Movies like this aren’t really about the plot, because it’s hollywood and therefore incredibly predictable. This is a movie that should be about what is cool and entertaining.
And its got the cool alien thing of District 9, I’ll give Battle: Los Angeles the cool factor, although I would say it is more a variation of already seen cool. It’s not a new cool, more like a previously seen cool. It’s stolen cool.
And that really is the problem. You can’t just take different pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and make a whole new puzzle. It just doesn’t work that way. But through all that semi-stolen plot, feel and style the one thing that really takes away from the entertainment of this movie is its length. (That is what she said)
No seriously folks, this movie feels like Gettysburg (261 minutes of goodness) and it is less than 2 hours long. It’s like studios can’t make big budget action movies without tying in every plot variation for fear of alienating (no pun intended) a section of the movie going population.
Just stick to something and actually explore it. I mean it would be interesting to have a gritty, realistic telling of the Independence Day story. You’ve got a whole genre of war films to steal from on that level, why do you have to jump around steal from others?