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The Cynical Optimist : Why I hate Battle : Los Angeles

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In director Jonathan Liebesman’s latest film, ”Battle: Los Angeles”, a battle-hardened Marine Staff Sergeant (Aaron Eckhart) goes back into the line of duty in order to assist a 2nd Lieutenant and his platoon as they fight to reclaim the city of Los Angeles from extra-terrestrial invaders.

In the near future, mysterious objects thought to be meteorites crash into Earth’s oceans near several major cities. It is revealed that this meteorites are actually spacecraft containing hostile extra-terrestrials. The alien invaders have come to enslave us and colonize our world (see pg. 47 of the Alien Invasion Clichés Guide for more information).

Blunt (adjective, -er, -est, verb, noun)
1. See dull.
2. Short, gruff, rough, rude, uncivil, impolite.
3. Dimwitted, thick, stolid.

Blunt suggests lack of polish and of regard for the feelings of others: blunt and tactless. Curt applies especially to disconcertingly concise language: a curt reply.

To put it bluntly, ”Battle: Los Angeles” is a dull, second-rate effort. The film is completely devoid of character development, and any effort made to evolve these stock marines and civilians comes off as schmaltzy. While it so desperately wants to be the ”Black Hawk Down” of alien invasion flicks, ”Battle: Los Angeles” comes off as a mix of U.S. Army recruitment video and sentimental soap opera.

From the unraveling plot to the horrendous dialogue, the script by Christopher Bertolini is atrocious. At one point a young civilian boy is comforted by Aaron Eckhart’s character after his father’s death. This disingenuous spewing of emotion leads to Eckhart delivering a cringe-worthy line to the tune of, “I need you to be brave for me. I need you to be my little Marine, can you do that?’

During a scene where alien invaders are being pushed back by heavy military artillery, Michelle Rodriguez observes, “They’re toppling over like bowling pins!” You might expect her very next line to be “Gee-whiz!” or “Good golly!”

Speaking of those alien invaders, they are a nameless race of indistinguishable drones with no character. As poor as the character development is for the human characters, its even worse for their extra-terrestrial counterparts. These things look awful – like someone took a new potato, a mound of brown Play-Doh and a handful of coaxial cables and molded it into a Dollar Store action figure.

At one point, Eckhart and the gang capture a wounded alien and attempt to study it to find its weaknesses. One of the civilians with them states she might be able to help — because she’s a veterinarian. That’s right, this talented woman can spade or neuter house pets and simultaneously analyze and determine the biological shortcomings of a goddamn space alien.

The consensus, after stabbing the organism repeatedly and ripping its chest cavity open, is that we should shoot it in the chest, “just right of where the heart would be.” Wow, never would have guessed to shoot a bipedal organism in the chest – way to go, gumshoes.

Bottom line: Battle: Los Angeles is just plain dumb. What’s worse is that it’s not even entertaining. It falls short of reaching the popcorn fun of Independence Day or Michael Bay’s Transformers. It’s a mess, a hodgepodge of cliches and simple-minded plot devices that fails to deliver on any level.

After Thought: The alien invaders in this film have come for our natural resources, namely our abundant water supply. I’ve got to wonder though, did the smog clouds of Los Angeles give them the impression of a fecund, lush environment to colonize? Or was it the oil spill that really sent them into action?

As Americans, we don’t mind a little blood in our oil – so why should mindless drones from a galaxy far, far away give two shits about a little oil in their water?

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