Battle: Los Angeles has the prestigious honor of being the worst movie I’ve reviewed on this blog so far. It might even be in the running for worst movie I’ve seen in theaters. And I saw Bruno.
A red flag was first sent up when I realized character’s names were being superimposed over them as they were introduced. That’s never a good sign. Next came a scene where the main character, played by Aaron Eckhart, meets an army official in his office. The scene was so clumsily written it might as well have had a red flashing sign saying “EXPOSITION” appear over the screen as the two talked. The scene sounded as if a high school student in a screenplay writing class wrote it. It awkwardly attempted to introduce the characters and their back-stories before revealing that- Gasp! The main character has a vague, mysterious trauma in his past military life he’d like to forget? Where have I seen this before? Oh yes. In every war movie ever made by anyone ever.
This was also the scene where the God-awful shaky cam became evident. I don’t usually mind shaky cams when they are being used for a purpose, like if the movie is pretending to be a documentary, or if it’s a “found footage” type of film. But this film is neither. It has a shaky cam simply because someone thought it would look cool. The worst part is that the shaky cam doesn’t just appear in action sequences. It happens in supposedly calm scenes where two characters are just chatting. And coming from a guy who has been around cameras before, simply filming handheld makes things plenty shaky on it’s own. Despite what the filmmakers of this movie think, you don’t need to furiously thrash your arm around to get the desired effect.
It was about at this point (approximately 5 minutes in) that I began praying for the end of the movie to come. Unfortunately I had to sit through action scene after action scene, where the camera shook so badly I couldn’t even tell who was good and who was an alien.
This film also ran the gamut of war movie clichés, from the General getting shell shocked and having the audio drop out as his crew mates yell at him voicelessly, to the required “Go on without me!” /“I’m not leaving you!” exchange between two officers. And if you’re wondering, yes, this scene did end with the wounded soldier grabbing a note and whispering “Give this to my wife.” I thought Tropic Thunder put an end to this shit.
The suspense sequences became so predictable I found myself giving a 100% accurate play-by-play in my head during one of the first alien raids. It went like this:
Movie: Soldiers hear rustling from behind car.
Me: Cue dog.
Movie: Dog runs out.
Me: Cue all the soldiers dropping their guard and greeting the cute dog.
Movie: “It’s just a dog! Look, his name is Glenn. Who names dogs these days? Laughter laughter laughter.”
Me: Cue explosion.
And so on and so forth.
Now, before I end this review, I must put in a footnote. The three friends I saw this with enjoyed it. They said it was fairly entertaining, and they didn’t even notice the things that drove me crazy. So obviously there are differing opinions on this movie. If you have a desire to see Battle: Los Angeles, please don’t let this review stop you. I hope you enjoy it more than I did.