It’s been quite a while since I’ve been to the theater here in New York because the price of tickets is ridiculous and the quality of many recent films, storyline-wise, has been abysmal. The economy has had me watching back seasons of old shows on Netflix until the new movies hit their play-it-now section so I can watch them at home. That said, I decided to take a chance on a film and see it in theaters this time.
The Battle: LA posters were up in the tunnels here and I’d seen the trailer on Youtube a while back so that was my choice; besides it was offered in normal-vision, AKA not 3D, so I figured they probably spent the budget on legitimate storyline stuff and not crapatar special effects with floating milkweed seeds. I was not wrong. I’m a huge sci-fi fan and an extreme sci-fi critic. I’ve seen it all from the classics to the dregs and I can spot a plot rip-off a mile away. This film has a basic social commentary on the war in Iraq, a well thought out formula plot, and a detailed overview of the actions of troops while on the ground in battle. The script maintains the timeless quality found in most hero-journey films and doesn’t get bogged down with internal moral turmoil, religion, or love interests.
The basic premise is: ET’s drop out of the skies into the sea off the coast of L.A. to force-ably colonize and gain control of Earth’s natural resources – Marines fight back. The plot is found in a variety of sci-fi sources like games, books, and films; but that doesn’t mean it’s worthless. The point here is that we humans are put in a pressure situation as the underdogs in a black and white battle for survival. The gray ambiguous psychobabble found in suspense thrillers and chick flicks is stripped away and replaced by a clearly formulated emotionless “bad guy” presented with an obvious solution: annihilation of bad is good. The World War II Nazi regime used to be that film “bad guy” but for years now the media has been struggling with how to make an engaging storyline that presents the blurred lines of combat that our troops are facing overseas. This film cuts through that modern crap and re-establishes the clear cut rules of battle for a much more fulfilling entertainment journey. I was not left wondering what choice should or should not have been made throughout the film. I was not left feeling bad for the “bad guy.” I left the theater with the same feeling I had after watching “Iron Man” – pride. I know there’s probably some consultant for the military whose job it was to make sure this film was presenting the US armed forces with a patriotic flavor, but I don’t care. Patriotism and inherent feelings of responsibility for the safety and well-being of others are admirable traits. The characters in the film have it in spades.
I’m not going to give you plot spoilers. I am only going to recommend the film. The Pg-13 rating is due to “Sustained and intense sequences of war, violence, and destruction; and for language” (and one light erp scene at the beginning) so keep that in mind if you have a featherweight sensibility. This is an edge-of-seat film and will leave you wanting to enlist in the armed forces for the retaking of LA (though likely not for the current war overseas). My personal opinion is that “Battle: LA” is a ray of hope for future sci-fi action movies and hopefully heralds a shift in the industry towards producing high quality stories with good real-life actors instead of only high quantity effects and bumbling blue bodies.
A vast majority of internet critics are panning this film, but I feel they’re missing the pearl here. This is the best action sci-fi film we’ve seen in years, and while it’s not an Oscar film it does have more depth than people are giving it credit for. Sure it’s non-stop action violence and vaguely glimpsed aliens, but isn’t that what has made old sci-fi film monsters into classics? The more you see of the film bad guy the less scary he is. This film isn’t about getting to know the aliens and having their babies, it’s about wiping them off the face of our earth. I think emotional love scenes have been misconstrued by the average populace lately as character arc depth, and if that’s what you’re waiting for it ain’t happening here; something I proclaim as good. The self sacrifice element is much cooler than redundant ridiculously-timed love scenes, trust me.