I should hate Battle: Los Angeles. Its everything that’s wrong with the Studio system. Calling it a slapdash, paint-by-numbers, no risk movie is an insult to every movie playing on the Hallmark Channel. It is so formulaic, and predictable, I’m surprised they don’t just put up the page number of the script in the lower left hand corner.
But, God – I love it.
I’m a simple guy. I like the movies I like for one of two reasons. Either, they are thought provoking and shed light on the human condition (Saving Private Ryan, Schindler’s List, Joker) while being artistic and beautiful.
I also like movies that allow me to turn off my mind for a couple of hours and just enjoy (Knives Out, anything by ZAZ, Monty Python). Battle: Los Angeles fills the criteria for the second list perfectly. It grabs every war trope you can think of and runs with them with all the glee of a four-year-old and his favorite toy.
The most recent viewing (the one that prepared me for this blog post) I saw the dead and casualties in the background. Sure, I’ve seen this movie dozens of times, but now – seeing dead civilians in the streets shook me a little bit.
It was the empty baby stroller in the middle of the sidewalk while our Marines rushed out to escort civilians back to the F.O.B. shook me a great deal. In that split-second, I found myself wondering what had happened. Did the parents just scoop up their kid and rush to shelter as the aliens attacked? Did I see the father face down in the street earlier? How about the mother? Is there a five month old sitting next to the body of its mother crying because it can’t comprehend what’s going on?
Yes – you can make the case that this is a thinly veiled ‘take that’ to the modern day oil barons who descend into the deserts to get their fuel. You can also call this a re-skinned “The Longest Day” with us as the Nazis trying to hold off D-Day. It’s also tedious, banal and horrible. Clearly set up to continue on, but with the poor showing it had, this became a one-and-done.
Believe it or not: this movie fills both criteria. It does make me think (How are aliens going to approach us? Are we ready for the possibility of invasion. Our own history tells us we might want to stock up on guns, bullets and peanut butter.) about our status is in the universe beyond are we alone? Stephen Hawkins advised caution in poking around the universe, broadcasting our location to everyone in range. As much as I would like to think that our ‘brothers beyond the stars’ are more like Mork and Starman than the Xenomorph and the Predator…I am prepared to by wrong.
Which is why I am not living on the coast.