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Battle Los Angeles

by on March 10, 2011
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I find myself struggling to come up with a proper review for the new alien-invasion flick “Battle Los Angeles.”

In many ways it was patently ridiculous, with some of the worst dialogue I’ve heard in quite some time. It’s the kind of movie that movies like “Airplane!” have mocked for years. I use that film as an example not only because it’s the prime example of such films, but also because, at one point in this film, it descends almost into unintentional self-parody when, after a long, impassioned speech, Aaron Eckhart’s character mutters that immortal line, “But that’s not important right now.”

This is the kind of film where our characters are introduced by spelling out their names because the film doesn’t want a little thing like backstory or character development to get in the way of any of the explosions that are to come.

Here is the plot: Aliens arrive on Earth and start shooting. Marines shoot back.

Seriously, that’s it. There are interactions you could call subplots, including even what could be a hinted-at romance between Eckhart and an appropriately hot civilian (Bridget Moynihan) whom he and his Marine unit encounter. It’s derivative as can be, becoming almost the bizarro “District 9,” if those aliens showed up with guns surgically attached to their bodies.

And there’s a little conflict within the unit. Seems Eckhart is a war hero who supposedly won his silver star while leaving some of his squadmates to die.

And in between there are aliens, explosions and firefights decimating the city, hoping presumably to harvest our water, considering among the few things we learn about the aliens is that their ships are powered by water. (And Earth, it’s noted, is the only place in our known universe where liquid water even exists. Makes one wonder why these aliens would make that their fuel of choice, then.)

Of course, there are gaping plot holes, lapses in logic and convenient plot developments aplenty, not to mention, in the film’s worst moment, an egregiously manipulative sequence that include perhaps the worst cheer-up speech in Hollywood history when a character loses someone close to them.

But at its best (which is to say during the action scenes) “Battle” is often intense and entertaining, albeit in the basest of ways. The fights are video-game cool, and the battles are the stuff of legend, at least to 8-year-old boys everywhere.

The aliens themselves are of a curious design that we never fully see or have explained to us. They appear to be organic with weapons and armor surgically attached. They are fearsome, hard-to-kill creatures, at least until the film’s climax, when their aim, even at point-blank range, seems to falter.

Plus there’s the propaganda factor, considering this film is for all intents and purposes a Marine-recruiting video. With that in mind, perhaps “Starship Troopers” is a more apt example of a parody of this kind of film.

But, hey, that’s not important right now.