Review – Battle: Los Angeles

As anyone who has read this blog for any length of time can tell you, I don’t go to movie theaters.  Ever.  I can tell you the last time I sat through a movie in a theater, it was the original Transformers in 2007, and that was only because it was a really hot day and my wife and I figured we had nothing better to do.  I see no purpose sitting in a crowded theater, full of idiots talking on cell phones, getting the back of your seat kicked and having your feet stick to the floor, and being ass-raped financially to do it.  No thanks.  The DVD comes out in a few months, I can wait.

So I really don’t get to review movies, or even see movies, until most people have forgotten about them.  It doesn’t bother me in the least, I can pay $15 or so, can sit back in the comfort of my own living room, watch at my leisure as many times as I want, pause, rewind and generally enjoy myself without having to deal with rude idiots in the row behind me.

Battle: Los Angeles came out on DVD a couple of days ago and I picked it up.  I had heard from friends who did sit through it in the theater that, while not the best movie ever, it was a pretty decent action flick and I agree.  For what it was, it was a fun watch.  Certainly it’s nothing original, if you’ve seen 1996’s Independence Day, you’ve seen this movie.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, ID4 wasn’t original either.  These films all have the same basic framework:  aliens invade, humans get their butt’s kicked, humans find the one ridiculously obvious flaw in the alien plan and are victorious.

But that’s the one thing I really hate is how damn stupid the aliens are in all of these movies.  It’s not just this one, it’s every alien invasion flick Hollywood has ever made.  These aliens are just goddamn idiotic.  How can any species that technologically advanced be so blind to the really blindingly obvious failures in their invasion?

See, the reality is, any species which has the ability to travel through space is going to wipe the walls with us.  The idea that these aliens are going to crash land on earth, trudge out of the ocean and start in with ground combat against the Marines is ridiculous.  Any alien species worth their salt is going to bombard the planet from space.  It just takes a few hundred asteroids, dropped with pinpoint precision from orbit, landing on human population centers to pretty much render us extinct.  Heck, you could do it with a few million friction-resistant ball bearings.  They put giant holes in pretty much anything they hit and there’s no way to defend against them with our current technology.  Of course, if you have the aliens act intelligently, you have no movie, so you’re stuck with aliens acting like morons.

The other stupid thing was why they were here.  Water?  Water is one of the most common substances in the universe!  They even discovered ice on Mercury, the closest planet to the sun!  Now maybe in 1983 when they made V, that was okay, we didn’t know how ridiculously common water was, but today, there’s just no excuse.  In fact, there’s no reason whatsoever to invade any planet for resources once you have reliable space travel.  Mining asteroids, you can get pretty much any mineral resource you want.  Grab a couple of comets and you’ve got all the water you could need.  Invading an inhabited planet, especially one where the locals can fight back, is a waste of time and resources.  Pick an uninhabited planet and mine whatever you need.  Leave the natives and their rock-throwing technology alone, or just wipe them out from orbit.  Going toe-to-toe with them is idiotic.

I almost fell out of my chair when they said the water levels in the ocean were showing a decrease since the aliens showed up.  Um… what?!?!?!  Do you have any idea how much water is in the oceans?  The aliens were here, at most, a couple of days and their technology was eating up so many millions of gallons of water that we could detect a decrease in water levels?  Not a chance.

The other thing that bothered me was the lack of technology that the Marines had throughout the movie. They had to look at maps to get around?  What… nobody had GPS on their cell phones?  Granted, you could make a case once it became clear that the aliens were using radio communications to track human activity, but they were using paper maps from the beginning of the movie.  Low-budget Marines?  But hey, while we’re talking about low budget, at the end when they were calling in the rain on the alien command-and-control ship, if it was me and this one ship was the key to stopping the invasion in L.A., I wouldn’t fire one missile at a time, I’d fire a couple dozen and keep on firing until it was dead or I ran out.  I guess the military is on a tight budget too.

But that brings up another point, with all the ridiculously advanced technology that any alien species that can attain FTL space travel must have, why did all the technology in this movie look like it came out of a junkyard?  It’s not just this movie but most of them.  The alien tech in ID4 looked the same way.  Our modern fighter airplanes look sleek and aerodynamic.  So many of these alien ships look like a bunch of crap duct-taped together.  I’d much rather see aliens show up that looks like they have a little style and design-sense.  These simply didn’t.

Then we get to the one glaringly obvious flaw in the aliens’ plan.  In most of these movies, the aliens are almost entirely invulnerable to anything we throw at them until we find that one plot device, then they fall out of the sky.  ID4 had the mothership in orbit that told all the rest of the invading ships to keep their shields on.  I guess nobody ever heard of a manual override.  This one, apparently most of the technology was remote-controlled and once you took out the command-and-control ships, everything crashed.  I guess there’s never any technical glitches in the alien’s world, I guess they have no redundant systems, their one and only system, the one that cannot fail, simply never fails until humans figure out they ought to take a pot shot at it.  Like I said, idiot aliens.

If you’re looking for a mindless action flick, complete with lots of explosions and not much of a plot, Battle: Los Angeles fits the bill.  You’ll be hard pressed to remember any of the characters once you’re done, nor will you care.  It’s ridiculous fun and you can’t really go wrong.  Just don’t expect much else from it.  There isn’t anything of substance here so don’t think too much about it, you’ll just get a headache like I did.

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