Battle: Los Angeles (2011 movie) review…

Battle: Los Angeles (2011 movie) review after the break…

Battle: Los Angeles (2011 movie) review…

There’s an old saying in politics – The only thing that should ever surprise you in politics is what works. Sometimes, the same could be said for movies.

So many cliches are poured into “Battle: Los Angeles” that to count them all would be an exercise in futility.

  • A hard-working, honest person on the verge of retirement? Check.
  • First time superior who freezes in combat but eventually earns his rank by making the ultimate sacrifice? Check.
  • Spunky female recruit who proves she also has brawn to match her brains? Check.
  • The jokester of the group who turns serious and is integral in helping the team survive? Check.
  • Babies in carriages being pushed proverbially into oncoming traffic? Oh, good gosh, check.
  • A group, initially skeptical of their leader, pulling together and supporting that leader after going through a traumatic ordeal? Check.
  • Dramatic scene of parent dying in front of child? Yup, it goes there.
  • The initial objective doesn’t turn out to be the actual objective? Check.

If someone drank a shot of hard alcohol for every cliche they found in this movie, they’d be dead of alcohol poisoning before the final act and if they weren’t then the final act alone would kill that person three times over.

Yet, a funny thing happened on the way to critically panning this movie… It really isn’t all that bad. Despite the ginormous amount of cliches… It actually sort of works.

“Battle: Los Angeles” is a 2011 movie starring Aaron Eckhart as a Marine Staff Sergeant on the verge of retirement. His papers have been filed and all he has left are a few more days before he finally walks off into the sunset. Then, out of the blue, asteroids that don’t actually act like asteroids begin falling from the sky, landing suspiciously close to cities beyond the ocean’s edge. The asteroids, of course, are more then just asteroids – They are actually an invading army of aliens that emerge from the oceans! It is up to Aaron and company to save refugees hiding out in a police station and bring them back to the “Forward Operating Base” (F.O.B. in military speak, supposedly) so that they may be evacuated. Why? Because that section of Los Angeles is about to get flattened by the most massive military bombardment in military history. If it’s not a single-celled amoeba of some type, odds are, it will not survive the bombardment. Hence, Aaron and company have their work cut out for them.

There are few films that work in spite of themselves, few films that transcend not only their material but how that material is portrayed. This is not “Plan 9 From Outer Space” territory – A film ‘so bad that it is good.’ This is about a type of film that is good in spite of all that it presents, that possesses a mysterious quality that supersedes all of it’s other supposedly inferior qualities. This is a type of film where the synergy of it’s elements is not just perfect but bizarrely perfect, a clairvoyant moment that could not be duplicated ever again even if you brought back the exact same stars wearing the exact same costumes reading the exact same lines on the exact same sets.

“Battle: Los Angeles” is, by no means, a perfect movie. A movie doesn’t have to be perfect, though, to entertain or entertain well. Whenever the movie slows down from it’s breakneck pace, you feel the mechanics of the movie begin to wobble uncomfortably. Whenever Aaron has to explain his checkered military past to the soldiers underneath him, the movie strains to move past those moments. The female soldier feels more then a bit forced structurally, as though some studio executive screamed out, “Women! We need more women in this movie!” after he read an early draft of the screenplay.

Yet, as long as the movie races through it’s story with a blinding speed more akin to a first-person shooter video game then that of an actual movie, the movie strangely works.

A movie critic once defined a great movie as having three good scenes and no bad scenes. “Battle: Los Angeles” is not a great film but not in that dry, calculated definition. It is a good film because you can never collectively catch your breath to determine if what you just saw was a scene at all and, even if it was a scene, you don’t have the time to judge it one way or the other. “Battle: Los Angeles” does not shine for any one reason but through a confluence of reasons. Like an overly-complicated trick shot that just happens to succeed, it is highly doubtful that such success could ever be repeated ever again.


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