movie talk

BATTLE: LA is not a good popcorn movie…

Unless you want to pick it up off the floor to eat it. I jumped so many times I had to set the popcorn aside.

Battle: LA proves (once again) that I’m one of the uncultured masses when it comes to movies. It was widely panned by critics, but did well at the box office. Yes, it was full of clichéd character types and plot elements (clash of newbie officer paired with veteran sergeant, aliens after our water, etc) but it still worked for me.

What I liked about the movie:
Before I went to see it, I’d heard the action was the only thing good about this movie. The story, critics claim, is an overused war movie plot. Okay, I’ll admit they did lump in a lot of tried and true war movie elements, but I thought they also added some complexity. The civilians added some great moments that seemed fresh and riveting to me. The movie follows a groups of soldiers tasked with getting a group of civilians out from behind enemy lines. Of course everything goes wrong, but along the way the moments between the sergeant and one of the children had me teary eyed. And when the lady veterinarian offered to help the soldiers rip into an alien to figure out the anatomy (so they could kill them more effectively), my first thought was that she’d make a great kick-ass SFR heroine. Lots of edge of your seat, gut wrenching, and inspiring moments.

What drove me nuts:
On the other hand, the action was too often regrettably annoying. A lot of the action scenes were shot documentary (aka shaky hand camera) style. I wanted to scream at the screen that tripods were invented for a reason. Ack! The effects were good when you could see them, but there were some logic errors that had to be overlooked. The single thing that would have most improved this movie was a good military advisor. Lots of errors on that score.

The verdict:
Ultimately, the characters kept me riveted and the big booms made the popcorn fly. Everything I need from a SciFi action flick.

The question: What do you look for in a SciFi action flick?

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26 thoughts on “BATTLE: LA is not a good popcorn movie…

  1. It sounds to me like I’d be having a heart attack at every turn! Yet I think I’d like this one, cliche-ish characters and all! 🙂 Did you see I Am Legend with Will Smith? That movie still haunts me. My heart was in my throat at least a dozen times. Would it be considered sci-fi?

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    • Loved I am Legend – right up until the end. Arg!!! Yes, this is SciFi. And based on a 1954 SciFi novel that influenced a lot of post-apocalyptic novels.

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  2. What do I look for Charlie, I look for Sigourney Weaver as the Alien franchise is my favorite Sci-Fi movie series of all time!

    Battle LA was good despite itself, for me the character actors were fab and the mini-war they waged to save the civilians was heartbreaking and still made me smile too!

    All in all it has been a good spring for movies so far and this one was fun to watch the audience jump when things blew up! Especially my husband! LOL

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      • If you like drama and lots of action and suspense and have not seen it go watch Liam Neeson in Unknown and if you like movies with big name stars and impossible situations try Limitless with Bradley Cooper… Not only does it showcase a good concept but it is actually a pretty good story… However both could wait until come out on DVD or Pay Per View as I watch a lot more movies after they leave the theatre than actually go see them on the big screen… We have seen 6 movies this year at the theatre and all of them including Battle LA could have been watched at home but it is a nice way to get out for a couple hours as the theatre is only 8 miles from our home and we go to the movie and eat out lunch or supper depending on the time of the showing…

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  3. This sounds fun, so I’ll be sure to catch it when it comes out on DVD (no theater 😦 ).

    What’s funny, SyFy recently aired their original movie “Battle for L.A.” Yeah, about a month ago. Without having seen “Battle:L.A.” I can guarantee the SyFy movie was worse in acting, effects, and overall storyline.

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    • Definetly good production values for this movie (except the shakey cam). And good actors, for the most part. SyFy is just going to hell in a handbasket. Sad! Unless you like wrestling.

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  4. The husband and I argued about this one. He finally ceded to me and decided to wait until it came on dvd.

    I really need continuity in my SF movies. And I HATE the jumpy camera. It gives me a headache. And no 3D. That gives me a worse headache.

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    • I don’t actually do movies in the theater often, but this is exactly the kind of movie I pick for the big screen – something with scale.

      Ditto on the jumpy camera and the 3D. I simply refuse to do 3D. I remember when Universal Studios theme park first brought out 3D in their amusements. Hated it then, hate it now. May have something to do with my terrible eyesight, but I just can’t sit through it.

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  5. For me, a Science Fiction film needs the same elements as every other film I like: good characters (good as in well constructed… I loved the Libertine and the character was hardly good), and some form of plot. Beyond that, it also needs some (but not all) of the following:
    unexpected plot twists, good action, touches a real emotion (rather than just playing up some pathos button), makes me think, and/or does what it says on the box (i.e. Star Trek the Warth of Kahn… it is what it is and that’s all that it is, thus I loved it. Independence Day: pretends to have deeper meaning while in fact it is nothing more than mindless drivel, thus I hated it). No doubt there are other elements that I should note, but I can’t think of them.

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    • Characters I can root for or against, also high on my list. Did Independence Day really pretend to have deeper meaning? After Wild Wild West I was just glad Smith wasn’t in a harem girl costume at any point in the movie. 😉

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      • Ha! You kill me. Yes, it talked about how we should all band together, under the American Flag of course, and had “sutble” commentary about environmentalism.

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    • Oh! I didn’t know you were doing movie and TV reviews. Looking forward to catching up on your posts! By any chance are you a Babylon 5 fan? I never watched it when it aired and recently tried to pick it up from the beginning. Struggling! Need someone to tell me it is worth the effort.

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      • I just started them, and keep forgetting about it. Ah,… children.

        I’m always torn about Bab5. The acting was wooden and aweful, and the dialogue strained. The big concept seemed really great, but as the series wore on, I came to realize it was really just a bit too much Lord of the Rings in Space for my tastes.

        Mimbari = Elves, Narn= Dwarves, Centauri = Numanorians.

        Hell, they even introduced a group of secret anti-shadow warriors called… wait for it… the Rangers.

        On the other hand, they had some lovely bits to it as well. There are some very sad elements that develope throught the story, some good character development, and some character sacrifices that really work.

        Even so, I never finished the series. So, I guess the short answer is: No. I don’t think it’s worth it.

        Many of my award winning friends disagree, however… so.

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  6. Pingback: BATTLE: LA is not a good popcorn movie… (via The Smart Girls’ SciFi blog) | The Archaeologist's Guide to Film: a review site for movies, television and other watchable media

  7. I really enjoyed “Battle L.A.” I never listen to movie critics anyway. I don’t need other people deciding for me what I will or won’t like.

    BTW, did you happen to see “Skyline” – the movie with pretty much the same premise as “Battle L.A.” that came out in Oct or Nov? Thank goodness I waited for that to come out on DVD. It was NOT worth paying $11 to see it in the theaters. It’s interesting how alike the 2 stories are at some points. I think I actually read an article a while back saying that the writers/producers of “Skyline” basically just ripped off “Battle L.A.” The worst part was the ending – a total WTF moment that will leave you wondering why you wasted 90ish minutes of your life on that movie LOL

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  8. Good to see a review – I wasn’t sure if I wanted to see this one or not, but it sounds like I might! I’m usually pretty forgiving of plot if the explosions are good 🙂

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  9. Hmm I haven’t seen this movie… but I’ll probably wait for it on DVD, or heck, Blu-ray!

    Sci-fi films to me, must have that sense of wonder. Like when the alien or whatever shows up, you gotta believe it’s there even though half your brain is telling you “no! there’s no such thing!”. Well, if the movie can convince you that aliens and stuff are real, then it’s a good movie! 🙂 (Star Trek has certainly led me to believe that one day we will be talking to computers, heh)

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