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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Movie Review: Battle Los Angeles

Will aliens never learn?

By now, you've probably seen the trailer for Battle: Los Angeles.  The trailer looked great -- a sky filled with marauding alien aircraft, strange figures moving stealthily through the smoke of battle, the pound and rattle of heavy artillery and automatic weapons fire.

As a sucker for effects-filled run-and-gun alien smash-em-ups, I awaited the opening of this movie with unseemly glee.  I was there opening night, crossbow loaded and ready to (quietly) dispatch any cell-phone talkers in the theatre, eager to finally see a movie that rivaled Aliens for sheer effects-laden fun.

Battle: Los Angeles did not disappoint.

There's no long windup.  We are briefly introduced to the small Marine unit we'll be following throughout the movie, and then the aliens just drop out of the sky and wreak epic havoc upon the city of angels.

We're also told the same thing is happening across the globe.  Cities are being wiped out as the aliens drop into the seas just off the coast and begin their deadly march inland.  No warning, no demands, no communication of any kind -- they just smash down, stand up, and start the slaughter.

The Marines are ordered to head beyond the defensive line, into the battle zone, to rescue a number of people trapped in a police station.  Go in, get them out, get them back to safety.

Of course, things don't work that way.  But enough said about that.

The action is intense and non-stop.  I mean it.  Non-stop.  These poor slugs don't get a minute of peace.  And the effects are miraculous; short of actually blowing the crap out of a none-too-affluent section of LA, including the freeways, I have no idea how they did this.  The look of this film is amazing.  I swear I was covered in a gritty layer of concrete dust by the time the credits rolled.

Do our brave Marines survive?  Does the obligatory child survivor oif the attack make it?  Do we finally show these upstart aliens how we do things downtown?

See the movie.  You'll have a blast.

That was the good.

Now for the ugly.  There may be spoilers ahead, minor ones, but if you're sensitive to these things please stop reading now and look to your right and click on a book and buy it.  Yes.  That one. Now buy another...

Nearly every alien invasion movie ever made shares some of the same dumb-headed flaws, which I shall enumerate below:

1) The aliens want our water.  Yes.  Our tasty, tasty H2O.  Forget the fact that the cosmos is literally awash in the stuff -- there's even plenty of ice on the Moon, for Pete's sake -- but apparently ours comes from sparkling artesian springs and lizard-faced space bugs just find the stuff irresistible. NOTE TO MOVIE MAKERS -- anybody with a high school chemistry lab can *make* freaking water.  Anybody with a space armada can just fly around and scoop the stuff up.  Fighting for it is just dumb.  But not as dumb as using water for fuel.  ANOTHER NOTE TO MOVIE MAKERS -- The amount of energy (chemical, kinetic, thermal, what have you) available in water is well-known.  You can break the chemical bonds between H and O all you want, but you're not going to power starships or weapons with it.  And even if you could, just grab it from places where heroic Marines won't fight you to the death for it.  Duh.

2) The aliens want our women.  Maybe they don't have any of their own.  Or maybe the entire alien attack fleet is composed of loser aliens who couldn't get dates.  But seriously?  I think maybe this speaks more toward the social lives of the script writers than anything else.  That wasn't a part of Battle: Los Angeles, but I wanted to mention it anyway.

3) The aliens want to eat us.  Again, the critters in Battle: Los Angeles showed no desire to do anything to humans but shoot them in the head.  Which is refreshing, since people don't taste too good and anyway they blew up all the liquor stores, so where would you get enough red wine to go with your meal?  Silly aliens.

Of the items above, only #1 applies, and that's if you count a news report blathering away in the background in a single scene.  I dismissed it, and enjoyed the movie despite it.

Favorite scenes from the movie:

1) The impromptu alien autopsy, conducted by a veterinarian and a seriously disgruntled Marine on a still-living alien.  Cutting up a twitching, chittering space baddie with a k-bar knife, looking for interesting organs to shoot -- that's just good fun.

2) The driving-an-armored-vehicle through a mob of surprised aliens scene.  Think octogenarian at a street market, but with .50 caliber guns blazing.  Hey, aliens!  What weighs six tons and just ran over your freakin' head?  This guy!

3) "We already ate breakfast."

So I give Battle: Los Angeles two furiously grinning thumbs-up.  It was loud, it was fast, it was fun.

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