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Battle: Los Angeles -- Review

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Marketing for a movie, any movie, begins during production. Obviously, the team behind it want to get the word around that they have a new movie coming out, and that it's brilliant, so you should go and see it. In some cases, film-makers decide to take a different approach to this convention, wherein they are very reluctant to make a huge deal out of it. Everything in moderation. Take Inception for example, the details on that film were kept very muted throughout 2010 until the film was actually released. With Battle: Los Angeles, I don't know about you, but I didn't know a great deal about it -- the first trailer I saw was during the Superbowl, and I thought it was attractive. There was very little said about it, it was very much a 'watch this trailer, be intrigued, go and see'. The problem was, once you saw it, you cared very little about it.

Alien invasion movies are always going to be expensive, big on the effects, loud, bright. It comes with the subject matter -- you're creating a war between two different civilizations, two different worlds, and you have to go all out. It's a great chance for the film-maker, in this case Jonathan Liebesman, to be creative and show Hollywood what he can do, but this film doesn't do that. It's incredibly predictable, dizzying, and the aliens or whatever they're meant to be look like a doodle you'd find on the inside page of a 14 year old's notepad. The spaceships are big cars with a tonne of spikes plastered at every angle, and sound like every spaceship in every generic alien invasion film has ever sounded.

Naturally, a lot of comparisons were going to be made between the film and last year's Skyline. There we focused on a buncha' obnoxious rich kids who partied and then saw a load of monsters outside who tried to suck them into their monstrous ships with beams of light, yes like flies. That script fundamentally consisted of the group making a plan, and then pegging it outside, where one of them would be eaten, so the others would run back in, and make another plan, rinse, repeat. At least this movie focuses on the armed forces, so we get more bangs, and more explosions. We move around a bit more, but at the end of the day, the plan remains the same. Move a bit further, come up with a plan, aliens attack, plan foiled, come up with another plan, more aliens, more plans. Again, and again, and again. The first half of the film, as you can tell, is really quite dull.

We start by introducing the characters, the members of this certain squad, and we find out a bit about each of them. This scene is so pointless, they shouldn't have bothered because none of it is touched on again. One marine is in therapy about something that we're not allowed to know...apparently this is meant to mean something? Of course not, but they had to include some character moments, so they might as well get them out of the way right at the beginning. Characters out the way? Check. Good, let's start blowing stuff up now.

The film isn't a complete mess, although it is hard to follow, the documentary style of making the movie should probably just be left to J.J. Abrams and the Cloverfield boys. Aaron Eckhart is a very good actor, and is without a doubt the best thing about the movie. He's a good leader, a hard-ass with a soft side and a dark past, and he does what he needs to do with very little concern. Everyone else just run around him screaming for the rest of the movie, so I can't say they stand out that much. Michelle Rodriguez also turns up -- her character doesn't need a name because she plays the same one in everything she does.

Overall, this film promised to be something else, but it doesn't deliver -- it's dull, generic, and unattractive. They went on and on about how this film was going to be like something out of World War II, a war film with aliens instead of nazis and I'm telling you now, if that's what you want to see, go watch Saving Private Ryan, and if you want to watch a film about aliens, go watch E.T. This movie is so not worth it.


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