I think Hollywood has painted itself into a corner. I really do.
Movie producers and critics have dared themselves to keep on pushing the envelope to have our horizons expanded. Just because something has been done before automatically earns it the adjective “clichéd” when it isn’t often deserved.
That’s why we can’t just sit back and relax a war movie that just happens to have space aliens. Which, ostensibly, Battle: Los Angeles is.
First off, I thought the movie was the best alien invasion flick I’ve ever seen. And trust me; staying up friday nights in the 90s to watch AMC’s 50s b-movie travesty has made me quite versed in the alien invasion genre (including its pitfalls and strengths).
In my commentary on District 9, I said that Neil Blomkamp had pulled off what H.G. Wells had tried to do with social commentary. Well, now Battle: LA has done the same thing, only in terms of tactical thought. This is what separates the movie so far from the rest of its genre.
The entirety of the movie is about the reality and dimensionality of battle. No 50s women stand on the corner, point, and scream. Scientists don’t berate generals for the improper handling of situations. The aliens aren’t beaten back by a bogus scientific process in the last quarter.
Soldiers make strategic decisions that have an outcome on the field of battle. It was quite exhilarating and well thought out, actually. I felt as though I was on the ground with these marines, and that the victory was realistic.
So that brings me to the idea that critics are calling this movie clichéd, and it has largely copied every action movie trope out there.
Well, I hate to break it to you guys. Are there a lot of rom-coms that end up in the female protagonist committing suicide? Are there a lot of medical dramas that bring up the topic of supernatural healing? Are there a lot of westerns that end in treaty negotiations?
So, do you really expect there to be a war/action movie with aliens that doesn’t have some of the same universal storytelling devices with other movies of its genre? If a single critic can say that to me and mean it, then he or she doesn’t really understand the nature of good storytelling.
You take what has been used in the past, and add a new dimension that brings in new flavor. Which, I think, Battle: LA does. That’s an opinion, I know, but it is my blog after all.
For the general audience at large: go see the movie and judge it on its own merits. Don’t be colored by what critics are saying, because I’m not sure that they have realistic expectations anymore.
As for me, Battle: Los Angeles was the alien invasion movie I wanted to make.