Saturday, April 1, 2023


March 11, 2011 by · 2 Comments 

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times lets loose a verbal barrage against Battle: Los Angeles that is far more unsparing than any digital-effects weapon the U.S. Marines employ against the alien invaders in the actual movie. It’s a classic critique that begins this way: “Battle: Los Angeles is noisy, violent, ugly and stupid. Its manufacture is a reflection of appalling cynicism on the part of its makers, who don’t even try to make it more than senseless chaos. Here’s a science-fiction film that’s an insult to the words ‘science’ and ‘fiction,’ and the hyphen in between them.” His review ends this way: “Generations of filmmakers devoted their lives to perfecting techniques that a director like Jonathan Liebesman is either ignorant of, or indifferent to. Yet he is given millions of dollars to produce this assault on the attention span of a generation. Young men: If you attend this crap with friends who admire it, tactfully inform them they are idiots. Young women: If your date likes this movie, tell him you’ve been thinking it over, and you think you should consider spending some time apart.” Well, as it turns out, some of Ebert’s colleagues do express admiration — of a sort — for this film, including his opposite at the Chicago Tribune, Michael Phillips. “Original, it’s not,” he allows, but then adds, “Exciting, it is. This jacked-up B-movie hybrid of Black Hawk Down and War of the Worlds is a modest but crafty triumph of tension over good sense and cliché. … A surprising percentage of Battle: Los Angeles is swift and compellingly chaotic. It’s also pretty sharp in its depiction of how a small group of Marines and a small group of civilians, under attack from a newfound enemy, might actually threaten to unravel under duress.” And Ty Burr in the Boston Globe sums up: “In all it’s a solid B movie with A-level ordnance.” Nonetheless several critics describe the movie as little more than a big-screen video game with not very special effects. Joe Neumaier in the New York Daily News is one of these. “When the mothership finally arrives,” he writes, “its a clinking, clanking, clattering collection of metallic parts, as if Fred Sanford’s junkyard suddenly became airborne.” A.O. Scott in the New York Times grants that the movie starts out reasonably well. But “as it lurches from Act II to Act III, Battle: Loss (sic) Angeles reveals itself to be a lousy movie. I know. What did I expect? And also, if it managed to be tolerable for that long, how bad can Battle: Los Angeles really be? Fair enough questions. The combination of thematic dumbness and technical competence is certainly better than many of the alternatives.”