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Battle LA Just Another Bad Movie With A Great Trailer

Battle: Los Angeles
Directed by Jonathan Liebesman
Written by Christopher Bertolini
Sony, 2011

Sometimes a movie has such a well-made trailer that you wonder how in the world the movie could be anything but good.  The exciting Battle: Los Angeles trailer, which contains that pleasant and bizarre song from Johann Johannsson called, “The Sun’s Gone Dim,” as rapid-fire images of battle and unexplainable alien technology grace the screen, definitely carved a notch into movie trailer history, and did its job by making the movie look amazing.

There have been so many of these, of course.  The last really memorable trailer was for the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake back in 2003, and of course the movie was garbage.  Speaking of which, the man who directed that movie’s prequel back in 2006 is here to take on a film that is beyond his capabilities.  I don’t know if the producers of Battle LA figured that just because he’s from South Africa, he was going to deliver another District 9, but I’m cynical enough to think that.

If there was one knock against Battle LA already, it’s that it already looked like District 9, Black Hawk Down, Independence Day, and in a very unfortunate instance, the recent Skyline.  The story focuses on Staff Sergeant Michael Nantz (Aaron Eckhart) and a group of marines who are tasked to take down the aliens when they show up in LA and start blowing up shit.  It’s not long before his crew is fighting aliens which have machine guns for arms and a health meter of a thousand billion hit points.

They try to save four civilians, one a father (Michael Pena), another just happens to be a veterinarian (Bridget Moynahan) who is able to help out when they cut one of these suckers open and try to find weak spots (aim for the heart, apparently, who knew?).  At some point, we figure out what the aliens want.  They aren’t just in LA, they’re in Hong Kong and Aqaba and pretty much every major city.

What would be nice is to see a movie like this concentrate on the coordinated efforts around the world to stop the alien invasion, rather than see 8 marines take down a whole platoon of E.T.s by themselves.  You can still be “Up With America” and everything but jeez…no army in the world can figure out “shoot the heart” and “use advanced weapons”?

There are no characters to speak of.  This is what Independence Day got right for the most part, and we can always call Independence Day a piece of garbage if we want to (personally, I liked it), but we liked the Will Smith pilot, Bill Pullman’s president, Jeff Goldblum’s environmentally conscious egghead, and quite a few of the ancillary characters as well.  And the aliens had otherworldly technology that made them cool.  Now we’re getting into alien races that use machine guns.  There is no sense of fantasy that makes sci-fi adventures so fun.  So we should be seeing creative weaponry, defense, motives, and maybe even a language.  Give the aliens some character too for Christ’s sake.

And perhaps the idea was to make this like District 9, with a more human angle, always keeping us grounded and never slipping into God forbid, a world of wonder and spectacle.  The scenes in Independence Day where the ships just show up, slowly positioning themselves over iconic buildings, contain more tension, suspense, and wonder than this entire movie.

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