Critical Mass: 'Battle: Los Angeles'
There's nothing like a terrible science-fiction action flick to bring out the creative writing skills in a film critic. Whether they hated it or merely tolerated it, the paper-thin plot and familiar images of "Battle: Los Angeles" gave critics plenty to laugh at, tear down or otherwise sneer at. Bad it is. Boring it is not. The movie is about an invading alien force destroying the City of Angels, something we've seen countless times in everything from "War of the Worlds" to "Independence Day" to last fall's "Skyline."
The Times' Betsy Sharkey opens her tepid review calling for a moment of silence for "for all the brick and mortar that made the ultimate sacrifice for 'Battle: Los Angeles.' Sob. Let me just grab a tissue. Sorry."
It's so bad it even inspires some decidedly impure thoughts in the mind of Christianity Today reviewer Brett McCracken, who admits, "It's not a good sign when, at the end of an alien invasion movie, you're disappointed that the aliens have not emerged victorious."
Director Jonathan Liebesman's wall-to-wall blow-'em-up (which was actually filmed mostly in Louisiana) is getting such rancid reviews that some critics are finding themselves writing things they never would have dreamed of saying. Such as Detroit Metro Times reviewer Jeff Meyers, who writes, "Director Jonathan Liebesman is gunning for his Lord of the Action Movie title, even if he does lack Bay's (God, I can't believe I'm writing this) compositional prowess."
New York Times critic A.O. Scott tolerated the film for two-thirds of its running time but finally had to cut it loose with the detritus of every other lousy explodarama. As he writes, "Considered as an alien-invasion science-fiction allegory, it’s about as deep as the dimple on [Aaron] Eckhart’s chin, and as lean and square as his jaw."
With all this bile being shot toward "Battle: Los Angeles," it's shocking that anyone would enjoy it. But there are people out there. People like "Nordling" at Ain't It Cool News, whose review sounds like "Nordling" may be a pseudonym for Johnathan Liebesman's mother: "But Jonathan Liebesman pulls this straight out of the fire by giving us action sequences that had me riveted for the entire film.... They say you can't polish a turd but Liebesman by God did and the result is a good two hours of quality action cinema."
And leave it to Flick Filosopher Maryann Johanson to take a step back from the carnage and try to take a more ... philosophical approach to her review. "Look: 'Battle: Los Angeles' is a metaphor. When it’s our cities looking like Baghdad, now we care. When it’s our kids being terrorized by invaders with guns, now we care. Santa Monica is behind enemy lines, for Christ’s sake." (The italics are hers.)
If you want to get really philosophical about it, it's two hours in a (probably) climate-controlled theater with (probably) comfortable seats and maybe even a sugary soda. How bad could anything be?
— Patrick Kevin Day
Photo: Los Angeles! Nooooooooooo! Credit: Columbia TriStar.