13 March 2011

Battle: Los Angeles Review.



The movie is focused on US Marine Staff Sargeant Gantz (played by the incredibly handsome Aaron Eckhart aka Harvey Dent). He's a veteran soldier who has commanded a few too many soldiers to their deaths from no-win situations. Gantz filed for retirement but he's been called for active duty because of the invasion. He's assigned to a unit with an officer that's fresh from the academy. (Commissioned officers are higher ranked than enlisted people.) The unit has been ordered to retrieve some civilians in an area which is about to be blown up. They have to race against the clock to rescue these people while fighting alien foot soldiers. Good people died from impossible situations and the fresh officer freezes up. Gantz gave a motivating speech to the officer. It doesn't matter if they are ordered to go left or to go right. They will follow orders as long as it is made. Gantz makes an addendum later in the film that there are no-win scenarios where left and right both lead to good men dying. The unit finds civilians and helps them escape while discovering that each alien force is commanded by a 'command centre'. If this Command Centre was destroyed, then all of their machines would stop functioning. Wow. more heroic sacrifices are made and in the end they win.

The Aliens in this film are unusual. They arrive on Earth via disguised meteor-spaceships crashing into the waters near major coastal cities. Los Angeles, Tokyo, and New York are just three out of twenty such ships. Immediately, ground soldiers pour out of these vessels and start murdering people. Oh yeah, they landed in water because that's their primary fuel source. Earth is one of the rare places in the universe where water is predominately in liquid form. I didn't think it would be too hard to melt some asteroids or to melt an ice planet. The aliens are able to survive in 'Earth temperatures' so unless frozen water makes powering their ships uneconomical, its just kinda weird to expend all of this alien-power (and potential casualties) for slightly warmer water.

Aliens have been tracking us for years according to behind-the-scenes material. They know what kind of technology we use and are able track us using our radios. They've abducted our people and know of our weak spots (anyplace where the flesh is soft). Here are some simple mistakes that future alien invaders should follow if they want to successfully invade Earth.

1) Make more than one robot/equipment that can function as a command centre. Let's call this a 'backup command centre'. You know, just in case your command centre gets blown up, or has a slight power outage. Redundancy is good.

2) Make it so your robots don't fall out of the sky without active commands being sent. Modern designs for robots that explore planetary bodies in our solar system has to work with something called a "Time Delay". Although radio signals travel as fast as the speed of light, the distances across space is so huge that it'll take about a second to travel from the Earth to the Moon. It can take tens of minutes to travel from Earth to Mars (depending on orbit). It is impossible for us to constantly control the mars rovers from Earth. Not with a 10 minute delay. By the time we receive the result of the commands we send, thirty minutes would have passed. Not easy to drive a car that way.  The robots are designed to be able to interpret the surrounding areas and make intelligent navigational decisions. So why is it that the 'drones' in this movie just fall down when the command ship is destroyed? It makes absolutely no sense. I can understand that they might go into an automatic shutdown mode, where they'll slowly land on the ground. It's like the alien drones are 100% controlled by the command ship 100% of the time. That's ugh.

3) Destroy all of the (major) military bases around the world. It isn't hard. Go on wikipedia and search for military bases. Launch nukes (or whatever cleaner equivalent the aliens might have) and you will take away 90% of the resistance.

4) Destroy the Earth's power grid. Unless they're going to tap into our power plants, this seems like a no-brainer to me. It would disrupt communication and make survival a bit tougher for humans. Oh yeah, getting rid of the power grid would have stopped the army from discovering your secret base. Good job Aliens.

5) Put more armor on your alien cannon. So during the film the aliens bring out a cannon the size of a ride-able lawnmower. Literally took two burst of machine gun fire to destroy it. The cannon also had to be (hover) pushed around. To be honest, the weapon didn't seem that much more destructive than their own laser/blaster weapons.

6) Use the magical boring machines to your advantage. They were able to bury a ten story tall command centre in the middle of the city without disrupting the ground near it. (The asphalt breaks near it when the machine became erect.) Why not use the same machine to tactfully move the only command centre away from the combat zone? Naw, let's have it crawl out of the ground so everyone can see it and it becomes more exposed to aircraft fire. IF YOU KEPT THE BUILDING UNDER THE GROUND (and made them think it was destroyed), THE US AIRFORCE WON'T TARGET IT SOME MORE. THEY WOULD THINK YOU HAD SOME SORT OF REDUNDANT BACKUP COMMAND CENTRE.

7) Defend your command centre better. If your entire operation hinges on keeping one structure intact, I think it might be important to make sure that the structure stays intact.  This means having enough troops to fight off any human intruders. It means having aircrafts that can kill five soldiers on the ground. I guess they did kill one soldier with the four dozen aliens that were sent. Good kill ratios.

So, what did I think of the movie? I don't dislike it. I feel like the aliens are designed to fail just so humans can face a technologically advance force and still win. I wouldn't have minded if humans lost in this film. Like any good military film, the soldiers are presented as heroes who would obey their DUTY to SAVE LIVES and SUPPORT FREEDOM. It gets a little heavy handed at times. I enjoyed it on a visual level. There's just too many tiny details that are dumb for me to really dig the movie. If I were to place a numerical score to the film, it would be around a 6/10

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