About Me

A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Battle LA

So having seen this as part of a group outing with Peter V. Brett, Myke Cole and a friend of Peter's let me not add it to the list of movies I've seen that I want to review and never do.

Peter's friend hated the movie. The rest of us were debating the fine points of its aspirations to mediocrity.

For those of you who can't figure it out from the title, if from nothing else, the movie is about a battle. Set in Los Angeles. Well, most of it is actually set in Santa Monica, which is worth setting foot in now pretty much just for the excellent rugelach you can get here since both the Borders and B&N on the Third Street Promenade have closed in recent years.

So if aliens want to destroy Santa Monica, just so long as they leave that one block on Montana Ave. with the good rugelach untouched they can really do as they please.

So the thing is that the movie kind of delivers pretty much what it wants to deliver, which is just unadulterated war porn military action. The opening fifteen minutes of the movie (after the kind of prologue that I don't like very much when I'm reading fantasy novels) sketches out the most archetypal characters collected from every war movie ever known to man. The USMC Sgt who's ready to call it a day after losing men in a recent military operation, the fresh-from-school lieutenant he'll be serving with, the guy who's buying flowers for his wedding. And then the aliens attack, and we quickly get into two hours of decently lively military action (I must leave it to Myke to comment on the accuracy of the action, as he's the military man in this movie-watching crowd) that is filled with more cliches from military and other movies. As an example, when an alien is shot, falls into a pool, and a marine starts poking around in the pool, if you have seen any horror movie in the last 35 years you will not be surprised -- no, you will be expecting -- to find that the alien isn't actually dead.

Well, no, let's not just rely on Myke for the military accuracy. Sure, he's entirely right to say afterward that one the good guys call in for an artillery strike on the bad guys that maybe, just maybe, the guy at the other end of the line would ask another question or two, or maybe the code would be something a little harder than I think it was "one-two-zero" which isn't even as many digits as for my ATM card. But Myke liked 300. And how accurate was that, did the blood in ancient Greece really spurt so artistically? And if you think there's a force based in midichlorians that can help Luke nuke a Deathstar you can think the military will send artillery when you call up and say "dude, artillery, one two zero, we'll have it lasered up like a Pink Floyd Laser show, ciao!"

Enhancing our enjoyment of this 1:35 of military action was that we were seeing this on one of the AMC ETX screens. This is where they take a really really big auditorim in a multiplex and make the screen as big as they can make it in the auditorium and gussy up the sound, so the bass notes made me feel like I had gone back 38 years or so and was watching Earthquake in Sensurround. Detracting from the enjoyment is the $4 upcharge to experience the movie in ETX. Which I won't complain about too much, I like in London when they charge an extra pound or two to see a movie on the big screen at the Leicester Square multiplexes because I know then that I'm getting the big screen experience.

As a completely unrelated note, AMC auditoria with ETX, apparently people spent all their money going to ETX instead of buying books because the Block at Orange CA, Tyson's Corner VA, the Metreon in San Francisco, Aventura FL, and Century City LA all have ETX in the vicinity of a recently closed or closing Borders.

On the other hand, if you go see ETX at the Yonge and Dundas 24 in Toronto, Ontario you are just steps -- steps!! -- away from The World's Biggest Bookstore, where Jessica Strider helps to run the best sf/fantasy section a chain bookstore has to offer.

So getting back to the movie for a moment, it's just so replete with cliches that the fight scenes have no emotional content to them. You care about people, it's a lot harder to care about living breathing cliches, and that's what all -- all -- of the people in this movie are.

And there is more humor to be found in this blog post than in the movie.

So ultimately, you can sit back and enjoy the movie at a certain level, but pretty much only at a certain level. If none of us were willing to go along with Peter's friend that the movie was just awful, none of us were prepared to say it was actually good, either. There's a subset of people who like military action and who'll love that this movie does its best to dispense said military action without stopping for characterization or comic relief or plausibility. And for the rest of us, we could do better or worse.


Myke said...

You make no mention of your PB&J, or your apple. Both of which were highly accurate, in my opinion.

Jessica Strider said...

Thanks for the bookstore plug! It's always appreciated.

Speaking of Mr. Brett, when's his next book coming out? I was hoping for this spring, but no luck.