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Saturday, 11 February 2012

'Battle: Los Angeles' and why 'Skyline' was better.....sort of.....

I’ve recently watched two movies on satellite; one was ‘Skyline’ and the other was ‘Battle: Los Angeles’.  Both were bad; but I tried to like them both – in one case I succeeded and in the other I didn’t.  Well okay didn’t succeed would imply I didn’t it like it at all and that’s not strictly true.

I thought ‘Battle: Los Angeles’ was good in that the CGI was pretty good – but the action was too frenetic, you didn’t have much build up with character’s so didn’t really know them enough to be bothered if any of them died in the early part of the film and towards the end you just didn’t really care; most of them would make a good marine cry, I just don’t know whether it’d be with laughter or shame at how they were being portrayed (trigger happy morons who were terrified of their own shadows, or gung-ho lunatics running around shooting anything that moved). If I were an American marine I would find this portrayal deeply insulting; even though it was a movie for entertainment purposes, that portrayal was wrong.
The aliens looked surprisingly similar to those in ‘Skyline’ once out of their ‘spacesuits’ (well, the two legged ones anyway); but to be honest it was very ‘Cloverfield’ with more glimpses and few slightly longer looks than concentrating on them so you never really got a good look at them to be able to formulate a reason for hating them.  After one particular (very gross) incident you understood what drove the marines to this particular action, but you couldn’t necessarily agree with them; especially when you see the aliens picking up a fallen comrade and dragging it away with them just as the marines did.

Also, there was no clear reason for the invasion – perhaps there wasn’t meant to be.  I couldn’t help thinking that there was some hidden message in the movie that war is hell and utterly pointless.  If that was it, it was wasted as most people already knew that.  But then their message about war being pointless was how I felt about the movie itself – utterly pointless but with fairly good action scenes.  Though I admit that rapid camera shifts, very loud noises and general mayhem meant that by the end I was almost suffering from motion sickness.

Moving on to ‘Skyline’; I thought this was the better movie of the two.  Okay, it still wasn’t Oscar material but the acting was better, you saw the aliens up close and personal (too much so in some cases) and you saw what they wanted and how they were going to get it.  There was character development early in the movie and so you cared, at least enough, about what was going to happen to the humans – especially the couple that played the male and female leads to be upset for them when the bad stuff started happening.  

The twist(ish) at the end was fairly unexpected, though the ending was too abrupt.  The gore was good and overall it was a lot better than I'd expected it to be considering all the bad reviews it'd received.

The CGI was pretty good too, especially the make up on the actors themselves – most notably Eric Balfour, who changed back and forth to a certain degree at different points in the movie – and overall it was relatively believable.  The aliens were a lot more cut throat in this film – there was no retrieving fallen comrades, no sense that these were also just cannon fodder for their leaders who had instigated the invasion, the same way the marines were just the same for their own generals, etc.

Whilst ‘Battle: Los Angeles’ came across as just a sort of live action shoot ‘em up game that had somehow stumbled into becoming a movie; ‘Skyline’ felt like it had a little more depth to it.  However both movies had pretty pathetic endings – in both cases it was like the producers had run out of money and just decided to wrap it up there and then; both had groups of survivors trying to make it out and get to safety.......I won't spoil them though.  However what I will say about ‘Skyline’ was the aliens method of colonisation was pretty nifty and certainly a change from the norm.

If you have a strong love of sci-fi, want a proper storyline and CGI leaves you cold (no matter how good it is), then it’s probably better you give both these films a miss.  If you don’t mind films with a weak story and love CGI regardless or enjoy shoot –em up games then ‘Battle: Los Angeles’ is probably for you.  Alternatively my recommendation if you’re just looking for a reasonable movie with a few gory shocks to while away a winter’s evening then settle down with ‘Skyline’ and be pleasantly surprised.......I was.

This is Simi, thanks for reading.....

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