Friday, January 27, 2012

Film Friday: Battle: Los Angeles (2011)

Battle: Los Angeles looked like a big blockbuster film designed to attract an audience for two weeks and then be forgotten. Imagine my surprise to find a truly inspired film. And do you know what makes this film stand out? An utter lack of cynicism and a strong sense of patriotism. This IS a conservative film!

** spoiler alert **

Battle: Los Angeles is the story of a platoon of Marines who are called in from Camp Pendleton to defend Santa Monica when aliens begin an invasion of the Earth. The squad’s initial orders are to rescue civilians who are trapped in a police station which was overrun. But things get complicated as the aliens grow in strength and numbers and the squad finds itself stuck behind enemy lines.

Everything works in this film, from the effects to the acting to the writing. For example, when they fly to the battle, you never once doubt they are in actual helicopters looking down on a burning city. Explosions are realistic. There is no wire fighting. The battles are believable as well. They don’t overdo the damage to the city or the power of the weapons, nor do they downplay it to give the characters an easy out. Indeed, the battles feel entirely real and the city looks like a city that’s been under attack -- the level of damage even increases as the film advances and the battle spreads. Even the use of the shaky cam (something I normally HATE) is done well here to add to the sense of motion rather than just annoy the audience.

The aliens are great too. They are original looking and yet also completely believable, and we are constantly given little moments of insight, such as when we learn their weapons are surgically attached to their bodies. The story also does an excellent job of ratcheting up their threat level as the film progresses, and neither side ever acts stupidly to create drama.

Moreover, the film does a very credible job of presenting a realistic portrayal of how the Marines would deal with these aliens. Too often, films like this pretend that none of the characters has ever heard of an alien, a zombie or a vampire and thus has no idea how to deal with them. Not here. These Marines know what aliens are, just as you and I know, they just haven’t seen a real one. And when they do, their reactions are realistic, particularly with regard to how the Marines gather the knowledge they need to fight them. There is one particularly brilliant scene where the lead character, Staff Sgt. Michael Nantz (Aaron Eckhart) tries to figure out where to shoot the aliens to kill them without wasting a lot of bullets. That’s the sort of thing Marines really would do.

Indeed, the military procedures throughout are highly accurate. The characters never ignore military protocol, rank, or the chain of command. They also use their weapons realistically, and not in cool “Hollywood” ways, e.g. standing out in the open machine gunning down dozens of aliens while firing two guns at once. In many ways, the procedures are so accurate this feels like it could have been a documentary about a real operation.

But where this film really hits it out of the park is in the writing. Modern war films have become cliché-ridden and are laced with noxious liberal messages: the military is power hungry, the military murders civilians, the military kills for oil and tortures prisoners, and our officer corps is full of stupid, arrogant racists. This film has none of that!

The platoon is made up mainly of minorities, which is the liberal myth that the poor and minorities do the fighting for America, but a funny thing happened after that starting point. Not one single character ever mentions race. . . not even in jest. These characters hang out with each other, care for each other and fight and die for each other and there isn’t one single hint in this film that they ever consider the race of their comrades. Moreover, the officer in charge of the platoon, Lt. William Martinez (Ramón Rodriquez), is an Hispanic character (several officers are minorities) -- something Hollywood rarely shows.

And while Martinez is fresh from Officer Training School, he’s not cowardly, stupid or unprepared as such officers are usually presented. And even though his veteran staff sergeant has to shake him out of his initial shock, he doesn’t fall apart or abandon his training. Indeed, unlike other movies that use this premise, the staff sergeant doesn’t ridicule him, doesn’t overstep him, and doesn’t try to take over the platoon to save everyone else. He does what he’s been trained to do: assist Martinez to be a better officer.

None of the other liberal clichés are here either. None of these soldiers is power hungry or bloodthirsty. They are instead proud professionals who do their job without complaint. No one whines about not knowing why they are fighting or tries to surrender or betray the unit. They don’t rape or loot or plunder or engage in an orgy of violence. Not one of them is shown to be a coward. The same is true of the civilians who prove to be heroic in their own right. In effect, everyone is shown acting their best at the moment of crisis.

The film also avoids all of the toxic geopolitics which pollute other films. There’s no politician or oil company trying to exploit the crisis. There’s no CIA operative who wants to sneak home an alien body to create a bioweapon. There’s no general who really, really wants to nuke American cities. And there are no gangs who suddenly appear to create apocalypse kingdoms. There are just good people doing their best.

I’m sure some would argue this film is actually a veiled metaphor for America as a resource plundering nation that exterminates indigenous people. But that’s just not the case. There’s never once a sense of irony that the aliens are now doing it to us and no one suggests this is turnabout. Moreover, the aliens attack the whole world, not just America. And the American military saves the day. That’s not anti-Americanism.

Reinforcing all of this are a handful of truly stirring speeches. Nantz was brought to the platoon because their regular sergeant was away. There is resistance to Nantz initially because it is believed he got some Marines killed in Afghanistan in a raid. . . he did not get them killed through cowardice or incompetence as is usually the case in recent war films. This issue gets resolved later in the film and when it does, Eckhart gives a deeply moving speech about the responsibility officers feel for their men. This is not a speech anyone who hates the military could ever have written. In fact, the film is strewn with excellent speech where the characters explain why they fight. None of these fit the cynical modern mold. Indeed, unlike Tom Hank’s horridly defeatist speech in Saving Private Ryan, these speeches are deeply patriotic, such as when Lt. Martinez tells his squad they are “fighting for our families, our homes, and our country God dammit!”

All of this is highly patriotic in the best sense of the word. These characters don’t wrap themselves in the flag and then dishonor it, instead they honor the spirit of our nation through their every action and their love of the country, its people and their sense of duty. This is a film about people who believe in America and who will never surrender or dump their duties on others.

That’s why this film is so fantastic. It’s populated by good people doing their best for all the right and noble reasons. There is no cynicism and no irony and none of the defeatist, disheartening hallmarks of modern Hollywood war films. It is thus no surprise that liberal reviewers hated this film, because it rejects their ideological expectations about how the military, patriotism and race should be presented and it is an affront to those who want to hate America, Americans and the American military. That’s why they trashed it.

I very much recommend this film.


Tennessee Jed said...

appreciate the review, Andrew. The state of geezerism I have attained made my interest in this equal to Transformers 17; e.g. just another 2 hour ad for a video game.

I did see a part of the end of it on one of my movie channels, and liked the actual realism of the fight; e.g. good guys actually getting hurt badly. Without your review, I doubt I would bother to take a closer look! :)

DUQ said...

I avoided this because I heard about the shakycam, but then I saw it and like you I was blown away. This is the best war movie since "Blackhawk Down" and one of the best science fiction films in a long time.

Jules said...

I've said it elsewhere I'll say it again, this movie is the antithesis of oscar winner crash. People of different color come TOGETHER to fight for their homeland instead of the pithy nihilism of crash "everyone sucks maaaaan!"
I didn't like Eckhart's contrite monologue. I much preferred the scene from the Sands of Iwo Jima where the young marine who hates John Wayne protects him from the MPs when Wayne is drunk b/c being a a marine trumps personal hate.

ScyFyterry said...

I totally agree about this being a great film. I think it's interesting too this is a great science fiction film. I figured it would just be a war film, but there is enough depth to the aliens (even though you never meet them except from a distance) that they are a bit of a mystery that you solve throughout and I think you do get a lot of neat ideas out of this -- like the surgical thing, the use of water, the drones, etc.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I'm not at the geezer phase yet, LOL!, but I share your lack of interest in films that are just pure marketing for toys or videogames.

And when this came out, I had the same thought. But I gave it chance one night with the idea that I would turn it off as soon as it got stupid, but it didn't get stupid. It starts strong and stays strong and it's very gripping. The action is real, the characters are real, they are likable, the aliens are a bit of a mystery, and the whole thing is one of those "kick ass" films that leaves you proud to be an American.

I absolutely recommend this.

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, I HATE the shakycam and that was the first thing that made me want to avoid this, but it was very standable in this instance. They seemed to only use to add a sense of motion to the film rather than using it constantly and even then they didn't shake the camera all over the place. I would rather that they didn't use it, but it wasn't annoying this time.

Nice mention of Black Hawk Down. I think the technical aspects are very similar to that film in terms of realism.

AndrewPrice said...

Jules, I agree 100% it is the exact opposite of Crash on the race issue. This film presents the conservative view of race -- being color blind. None of these people hyphenates their race, e.g. African-American, none of them cares that the guy next to them is something different, none of them is protecting only their own race... they are all Americans defending their country and doing it together. Even Hector the civilian fights to defend the Marines when push comes to shove.

If people would live like this rather than trying to see the world through a racial prism, America would be a much stronger, happier place today.

On his monologue, I actually liked it because I didn't see it as all that contrite. I didn't think he was apologizing for anything, just telling the brother than he has no right to think Eckhart is callous about it. I took it more as a statement about how seriously and personally the officers take their responsibilities for their men.

But of course, you could have seen it differently. :)

AndrewPrice said...

Terry, I agree. I saw this as one of the best war films since Black Hawk Down and one of the best science fiction films in a long time. They don't just treat the aliens as targets, even though you do never get scenes with them or a single understandable word. Indeed, you get all kinds of cool information about them. In that regard it actually reminds me of Forbidden Planet where you never see a Krell, but you get all kinds of suggestions about what they look like throughout the film, and by the time it's over you have a picture in your head about what they were.

This film has a lot of depth. And I think it's telling that guys like Roger Ebert couldn't see that depth because he was blinded by the lack of a race-hate, anti-military, anti-America message.

Doc Whoa said...

Andrew, I haven't seen this, but you make me want to see it! :)

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Doc! Glad to hear it! I think you'll like it a lot.

ScyFyterry said...

Andrew, I hadn't thought about "Forbidden Planet" but that's a really good point. Here you do see the aliens, unlike the Krell, but they don't tell you anything directly about them. But we learn a lot about them from the Marines and the television throughout the film. I thought the way they handled the use of the television was great in this.

AndrewPrice said...

Terry, I thought their use of the television was really smart. It usually seems like bad writing to have the characters turn on a television/radio and be told important plot points. But here it totally made sense because everywhere they went were places that televisions would normally be running in every day life. And since the aliens never cut the power, there was no reason they wouldn't be running.

And they did a great job of using the little snippets to give you just enough information to keep ratcheting up the threat level, filling in the pieces and drive the story. I love how they didn't tell you everything at once and how the time they took really felt like how these kinds of stories "break" when we see them on the real news.

tryanmax said...

I rented this when it hit DVD because I am so cynical that I figured all the bad coverage meant it had to be good. It is all the things you say it is, so I can't really heap on any more praise. (To be sure, I didn't even think of race once while watching this. Guess that's why I'm not a liberal.) The article does bring up a few thoughts.

First, there are two different kinds of "shaky cam" but they lack different terms. This movie featured only the good kind.

Second, one thing that disappointed me (I'm sorry) is that, other than the aliens, there were no bad guys, and that seemed a little flat to me. I don't mean that there should have been a coup in the ranks or any of that weird geopolitical stuff. I agree those would have been cynical and spoiled the film. But as refreshing the theme of a crisis bringing out the best in people is, we all know that it can also bring out the worst, and an opportunity to make that contrast would have upped the ante on this film.

Finally, and now maybe I am being cynical, I couldn't help but think that if this same movie were made, but the alien invaders were replaced by soldiers from another nation, this movie would have been called it racist and xenophobic and worse. In that sense, this movie does what speculative fiction is designed to do, it makes the statements that cannot otherwise be made. But how sad is it that that is where we find ourselves in America when it comes to praising our military? (And even then, it didn't go uncriticized.)

rlaWTX said...

I loved this movie! I saw it when it came out and was thrilled. Even my former USMC brother didn't have the criticisms he usually does.

The whole thing worked!

Tennessee Jed said...

Andrew - Definitely have major interest after your review. The only possible flaw in the realism might be the premise that the military should actually defend Hollywood. Wouldn't they let them destroy it, and only then take them down? ;-)

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Although he didn't really talk about it, I suspect issues like race jumped right out at Ebert. This film hits all the hot button topics and goes "the wrong way."

You're right about the shakycam. I don't really like either version, but I think they used it well here. When there are explosions or other things that would shake everything, the camera shakes. It also moves a bit to give you the perspective of being right there. BUT it's not the vomit inducing version where the screen constantly shakes and it shakes all over the place. It's no more shaky than a personal perspective.

I have to respectfully disagree about the inclusion of a villain. I think adding a villain would distract from the main point, which is the courage and nobility of these people. This film is about redemption. Look at a guy like Hector who seems to be a coward when things start but becomes a hero or Nantz who wins over people who had reason to hate him (dead brother). And it's about understanding what our military is really about.

This film is a love letter to America and the American military. In that kind of love letter, there is no room for villains (or even politicians).

Thus, I think adding a villain would only muddy the message and make it morally ambiguous. Even if you added something like looters, it would only raise questions of what is America's underlying character -- and the message they wanted to send here was clearly: "when the chips are down, Americans rise to their best."

Also, I can't think of a villain you would add that wouldn't be a cliche and make the movie feel cheap. For example, if you add the evil CIA guy looking for a bioweapon, then you've suddenly recreated Indepedence Day and a dozen other movies. Plus, it would be an obvious "movie character" and "movie moment" which doesn't fit with the otherwise "this is reality" feel of the film.

Finally, sadly your cynicism is right. If this were Mexico invading the US, for example, and the same movie played out, the left would be screaming to have this racist garbage banned and destroyed. But since these are aliens, the director can tell us the truth without people being offended. And even then, the leftist reviewers hate the film precisely because it showed a different world than they WANT to see.

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, I was hesitant -- modern Hollywood has done a horrible job with war films. But I thought this was fantastic. I truly cared about these people and I very much "felt" their highs and lows. And in the end, this film made me proud to be an American and just entertained the heck out of me.

This is how a great example of what Hollywood should be doing to honor the country. If they'd made an Iraq war film like this, I guarantee you it would have been a huge success.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, Glad to hear it!

Yeah, that is a flaw! LOL! Actually, they spend a lot of time in the street of Santa Monica and you never get the feeling they are saving Hollywood -- just average Americans.

By the way, this film is also surprisingly unpredictable, which is why is why I haven't discussed the plot. It moved fast and in logical ways, but you never knew what was coming next or how individual scenes would turn out. People do die, bad things do happen, and the problems they run into are very realistic.

ScyFyterry said...

tryanmax, Andrew did an article a while back about how not every film has a villain. This one does because the aliens are villains, but the point he made has stuck with me that not all films need villains.

I'm having a hard time seeing a villain that would help. I'm not saying you're wrong, but I can't think of a villain that would improve the film. What kind of villain would you suggest?

ScyFyterry said...

Re-reading my comment, which doesn't come across as I meant it, I am NOT saying you're wrong and I don't mean to imply you are.

I just can't think of a villain I would want to see added and I want to know what you think would help?

T-Rav said...

So you're saying it's like Black Hawk Down meets Independence Day. Got it.

Another in a long list of movies I need to watch. I remember thinking this movie looked kind of interesting when it came out, and then Eckhart in an interview expressing his admiration for the Marines, but as usual I got busy and forgot about it. Even if it wasn't conservative-themed, I'd be happy just to see an alien invasion/other disaster movie that doesn't get all maudlin halfway through.

Kudos for calling out Saving Private Ryan. I never get tired of that :-)

CrispyRice said...

Ohh, I was told this was worth seeing! I'm gonna skip the spoilers, but check it out. THanks!

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Any time! Ryan absolutely deserves it and it shocks me how many conservatives think that's a conservative film. That is the classic example of conservatives taking films they like and declaring them conservative.

Yeah, this one is well worth the time, even if it wasn't conservative. But with it being conservative, that makes it even better!

Black Hawk Down meets Independence Day is a good way to describe it.

AndrewPrice said...

Crispy, Few spoilers, but in either event, this film is totally worth checking out.

AndrewPrice said...

Terry, I'm not actually sold that the aliens are a "villain" in the true sense rather than just a menace like a natural disaster. It's not personal in the film and they make the point that the aliens appear to just be grunts following orders. So while they are definitely the enemy, I'm not sure if they fit in the traditional concept of the villain.

ScyFyterry said...

Andrew, That is a good question and one I think we have discussed before -- what is a villain. In one sense, they are definitely villains because they are the bad guy in the story. But on the other hand, you are right that their motives are not personally aimed at the heroes nor do they really have any personality.

AndrewPrice said...

Terry, In the end, I suspect it's just a matter of semantics. They are trying to kill the good guys and they have intent, so that probably makes them a villain. But they definitely aren't villains in the sense that we think of as modern villains.

Anonymous said...

Actually, they spend a lot of time in the street of Santa Monica and you never get the feeling they are saving Hollywood...

What's ironic is that the film, which has "Los Angeles" right in the title, had to shoot in Louisiana (mostly Shreveport) because it was too expensive to shoot in SoCal!

I haven't seen the film yet but it's definitely on my to-watch list. I also laughed out loud at your comment And there are no gangs who suddenly appear to create apocalypse kingdoms. :-) If only!

I know I've mentioned it before but one of the reasons I love Executive Decision is because it doesn't have the 4th act "The CIA was behind it!" revelation that so many other films seem to have. Sure, there's a slimy politician but he's not a villain; he's just out to make himself look good, which is to be expected.

But in movies like that and this one, there is nothing extraneous. I think we've gotten to the point where, if a film doesn't have that extra double-cross/traitor/conspiracy angle, it's as if something is missing. I don't think screenwriters are doing it for strictly political reasons; every screenwriter tries to up the ante and raise the stakes. Plot devices like the ones described, as cliched as they are, help with that.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, You would never know they aren't in Santa Monica because they treat it like a real city -- they don't go sightseeing or defend famous landmarks, instead they fight house to house. That's just one of the many ways in which this film comes across as very realistic. In fact, it made me think of National Geographic specials I've seen on Afghanistan and Iraq where they are fighting house to house -- it was very similar.

To me, by the way, the real clue to the intent to be realistic was that the squad kept referring to him as "staff sergeant" throughout the film. They never dropped it to make the dialog sound cooler or flow better. Basically, these guys used military lingo/procedure and never broke from that. I think that set the tone and all the rest followed.

I think you're right that the double-cross and double-double-cross is rarely political. I think it's just bad writing these days. And I personally liked the fact they didn't include something like that in this film.

In fact, I liked the fact they avoided all the stock characters you usually get in a film like this -- the rotten politician who would betray the humans and would need to be killed, the peacenik who gets ironically killed, the pregnant woman who somehow finds her way into an elevator, etc. I think too many films reach for these things to create drama when they decide their scenes are flat.

And in that regard, interestingly, after I wrote this review, I saw the Scriptshadow had reviewed the script and he HATED it precisely because he thought it lacked all the extras, i.e. he didn't think a simple war story focused on the actions of the squad could be a good film.

On the gangs, I'm serious. That's becoming a new trope. Once the apocalypse happens, apparently perverts and street gangs will find each other and create nests for the heroes to run into and have to fight their way out of. Personally, that sounds pretty stupid, but it's becoming a part of all these films.

Ed said...

I saw this a couple days ago on one of the movie channels and I was really impressed. Like you, I didn't expect much from it but figured I would see it anyway, and it had me on the edge of my seat throughout.

And I agree 100% with the statement above about how this would have been an awesome war film if it had been about Iraq, but aslo (like tryanmax's cynicism says) the left would have LOST... THEIR... MINDS!

Ed said...

Oh, I also totally expected some race angle because all war movies seem to have that now. But the message here was "we are all Americans and we don't care what race you are."

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, I think they would go indeed have gone insane. I think the left has reached the point where any portrayal of the US military that doesn't show them as murderous and racist is considered a racist whitewash. Indeed, the fact they keep repeating claims that have been repeatedly debunked about race, joblessness, mental health, etc. just show us that they are looking to smear the military -- not address any real problems.

T-Rav said...

Scott, my aunt and uncle used to live in Shreveport for a while, and based on what they had to say about it, getting shot up by an alien invasion would be an improvement. :-)

JG said...

I hate how Blogger waits to load new posts in my feed for an hour or so...just getting that out of the way.

I loved this movie, maybe more than my husband did, because I was so sure we'd be sucker-punched and it never came. There's really not much to pick at, and that's a beautiful thing.

With regard to the shaky-cam, I was a little motion-sick after we left the theater, but I'm pretty sensitive that way. On screen, of course, is a completely different experience.

They also use their weapons realistically, and not in cool “Hollywood” ways, e.g. standing out in the open machine gunning down dozens of aliens while firing two guns at once.

This is my only quibble. I'd say that's true 99% of the time, and then they get to the part where the female Air Force computer tech shoots an RPG for the first time at a moving object and hits it in the first shot. Completely destroyed my husband's suspension of belief. And I only mention it because whenever you bring up the movie to someone in the military (or, at least around here in the Army) the first thing they say is, "Yeah, but that Air Force chick...." Even if it is Michelle Rodriguez, it's a bit much.

But other than that, I loved it. I loved that the aliens were the only real bad guys, and that they were basically faceless, unlike District 9 aliens. Every branch, every rank, every role was represented well and I definitely feel like I can recommend this movie to anyone.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I had friends stationed at Fort Polk and they said similar things about the whole upper part of the state.

JG said...

*sorry, suspension of DISbelief. Oops

AndrewPrice said...

JG, Blogger can be very annoying all around. But it is free and it's hard to complain about that.

I totally agree about the sucker punch. I kept expecting one, but it never came and about halfway through I suddenly realized it wouldn't come and I just enjoyed the film as a film. That's become and all-too-rare feeling these days.

I can see where the RPG issue would bother the guys who really do this for a living, but some dramatic license doesn't bother me. For me, the more important thing was how they avoided all the Rambo-style stuff that the military trains people never to try, and the fact they kept military discipline throughout. So I can forgive a little bit of license at the end.

But even beyond that, what I really loved about this film was the top to bottom respect they had for the military. They didn't make anyone look bad. To the contrary, they were all shown as professional, dedicated and willing to risk their lives for a greater cause. They didn't make the enlisted guys look stupid, the officers look uncaring, or the whole organization look undisciplined, indifferent, bloodthirsty, etc. And I LOVED the fact they left the race issue out entirely. I really see this film as a love letter to the military (and the US in general).

One of my favorite moments, by the way, was the very end when the AF tech says "I'm going to borrow this" and the commanding general looks at her and says "carry on." That's one of those understated moments where you just feel the incredible level of respect conveyed throughout this film. It wasn't overplay, no one made a big deal of it, but you could hear the respect in his voice. I loved that and I wish other filmmakers would study how this film treated the military.

Finally, on the shaky-cams, I generally hate the shaky-cam, but this time I was ok with it. I would have preferred that they didn't use it (they definitely didn't need it), but it didn't bother me this time. It was probably worse on the big screen.

LawHawkRFD said...

I watched the movie on Showtime or HBO (I forget which) because I love special effects and big booming surround sound. I expected nothing more than that, but was pleasantly surprised to find there was actual thinking behind the creepy aliens and the big explosions. The more I thought about it, the more I liked it, and added it to my DVD collection

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I'm thinking that's the consensus -- we all expected little from this film and came away quite impressed. That's both a sad statement about Hollywood and a testament to this film.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Outstanding review, Andrew!
Bravo Zulu!

I love this film. Easily the best war flick since We Were Soldiers and Blackhawk Down.

It's been a long drought for good war films...the longest drought since hollywood started making films.

So I was overjoyed when this film came out.
And the good writing, acting, plot, direction...everything really was just icing on the cake.

Then there's the cool scifi factor.
Man, am I glad to see a director that doesn't feel obligated to answer all the questions surrounding the aliens and isn't afraid to let the film have mystery.

We learn enough, just like if it had really happened. No one has all the answers and it helps the flick because it adds realism.

You are right on about it depicting how Marines really act, the tactics they use, the intel gathering, the incorporation of the Air Force Airman, and the heroism of the civilians was refreshing too.
And who knew our fine military men and women could actually think for themselves? :^)

And without any stupid cliches.
Actually I don't mind cliches if they are used in a new and smart way, are realistic and help the film, but they were not needed in this one.

I truly hope there will be a sequel but only if they keep the same director, writer(s) and bring back Eckhart.

He was convincing as a Staff Sgt. and obviously researched the role.
Plus, he added depth to the hero even when he wasn't talking.

Talk about underrated. I would like to see more of him in the future.

Oh, and ditto on the limited use of the shakycam.
It worked well here. I'm glad they didn't go Cloverfield on us, lol.

Dear hollywood, more of Battle: Los Angeles type films, please.

Ebert and the anti-military/American critics that panned this film are blithering imbeciles.

AndrewPrice said...

USS Ben, Thanks!

Cloverfield is the movie I think about most when it comes to the shaky-cam. That was a great film ruined by an unwatchable presentation.

What's funny about the lack of cliches is that one of Ebert's complaints was that this film was pure cliche... only, it's not. He only thinks it is because he's got this angry, snarling anti-Americanism where he defines any love of country as a cliche.

All in all, I think there were a couple cliches in the film, but they aren't used in the normal way. For the most part, this is a straight up story that follows a realistic trajectory rather than moving from cliche to cliche. Indeed, this film feels very much like it felt watching the invasion of Iraq on television -- information gets dribbled out, things start small, you don't see very much, and then it grows as you are watching it. That's how this felt and I can't think of another film that has taken this approach.

I'm a big fan of Eckhart. Even in something silly like The Core his screen magnetism comes through loud and clear and he makes you want to watch his character to see what happens to him. In other words, he's got the "it" factor. And I too would like to see him in more roles.

And I totally agree about the lack of good war films lately. They've made so many and they're all defeatist liberal garbage. This was so refreshing.

By the way, given your Navy background I will mention this, I thought the intro scene where the frigate(?) gets knocked over was just stunning. I like that it didn't blow up but was just shoved over like a toy. I think that was a neat effect and it really gave you a sense of the power these aliens could eventually bring to bear once they brought all their forces to Earth.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, I've never been to north Louisiana, but the impression I get from those who have is that it's like Arkansas, only hotter and with Spanish moss.

Seems like the consensus on this film is pretty solid. I'm gonna have to go out and rent it.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, "hottest place on earth" is what one person I know called it! (Though I know that's not actually true.) They also complained about everything getting moldy almost immediately there.

I think you'll like the film a lot. I'd issue a guarantee, but CommentaramaInsurance won't let me anymore, not after the "you'll love lizardscicles or your twice your money back" fiasco. :(

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

That was stunning!

Despite the overwhelming technology and strength of the aliens I like the adapt and overcome attitude of the Marines in this film.

It's more than just a line from Heartbreak Ridge. It's what those guys and gals do on a daily basis and it's represented well in the film. :^)

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, I agree. One of the most fascinating aspect about what's been going on in Iraq and Afghanistan has been how many innovations have come from the soldiers themselves. Not only have they learned to improve their tactics, but even their equipment.

Indeed, rather than waiting for some procurement guy to hire some company to address some need, these guys were calling home and having things like ipods and silly string sent over which they converted into militarily useful items.

That's the kind of innovative spirit that makes America so dynamic. And that's on display in this film. Who would have thought to use a gas station as a bomb, for example?

And I love the never surrender idea in this film.

ambisinistral said...

This is a great film that has a lot going for it.

In regards to the villain of the film and cliches, one of my favorite scenes it the movie is when the two soldiers are on the roof doing over-watch.

They notice a couple of aliens on another roof doing the same thing and discuss it, plugging them into their attempt to understand the alien's tactics.

Then one of the marines starts to drift into the ol' "Gee, do you think they're just like us? maybe if it weren't for this dern war we'd be pals with them, etc., etc." hunk of cliche war movie dialog.

The other marine promptly shuts him up by giving him a "are you nuts? They're freaking aliens blowing up our city" look.

A nice little scene that sets a cliche up and then pops it.

Anonymous said...

T-Rav -

I've never been to Shreveport but it's actually becoming a popular place to make movies due to (I assume) various incentives, tax credits, etc.

Andrew -

Re: innovations coming from the solders themselves, I'm obviously no expert but a similar thought had occurred to me when I watched The Towering Inferno for the first time just a couple years ago. Sure, Steve McQueen is playing a fire chief and not a Marine but I was amazed by the non-stop improvisation and ideas that he'd come up with. "The stairwell is blocked so we're gonna do X. The 47th floor is on fire so we're gonna have to use a Y, etc."

AndrewPrice said...

ambisinistral, That's an excellent point about that scene. It starts out like they're going to go into one of the very cliche "why are we fighting?" moments and it quickly gets turned into: "because the other guys gave us no choice." And then it's all about going about their business.

That not only torpedoes the whole idea of trying to sympathize with the enemy, but it makes it clear that if you join the enemy and you try to hurt us, then you are the bad guy... the end, no excuses.

In many ways, that's a direct response to so many of the things we hear these days where people try to defend Islamic terrorists by saying we need to understand (read: "sympathize with") them and excuse the ones who aren't leaders.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Louisiana gives huge tax incentives and I think there might even be a federal subsidy on top because of Katrina.

On the innovation, that's the way the world works. When confronted with a need, people try to find ways to solve the need. That's how 90% of all innovation happens -- some farmer, fireman, mechanic, soldier, etc. sees a need and comes up with a way to fix it. The idea that scientists come up with innovations is labs is largely untrue -- except in the cases of specific products like pharmaceuticals.

And our military is actually taught to be innovative. A lot of people think they're taught to be mindless (especially Marines) but that's 100% backwards. They are taught to be problem solvers.

By the way, this whole innovation thing is a key difference with Americans and much of the rest of the world. Americans are do-it-yourselfers, whereas much of the rest of the world waits for someone in authority to come up with a solution. That's why so much is invented in America compared to the rest of the world.

Anonymous said...

Re: scientists in a lab, I heard once that the best inventions are often accompanied not by cries of "Eureka!" but by a simple "Hmm." :-)

Oh, not to go off-topic but remember the article I sent you about all the BS theories about The Shining? Well, there's a documentary on the subject, exploring every possible interpretation.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I wouldn't be surprised if the word was "hmm" or (if my brief experience in engineering school was any indication) "f**ing finally! Why was this so damn hard?"

As for the documentary, hmm. Interesting. That might be pretty good because there are a lot of theories -- some good and some bad. In the end, however, I suspect the real answer is that Kubrick just didn't know and basically did things because he thought they would work for the story.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Interesting tidbits from Wikipedia:

The director, Jonathan Liebesman is from South Africa and he's only 35.
Hopefully, we'll see lots more good stuff during his career.

It made 80 million in the US and 200 million globally.
Thus 120 million from outside the US for a pro-American Military film.

This goes against the standard hollywood canard that American patriotic films don't sell outside the US.



AndrewPrice said...

Ben, That it does. It flies right in the face of the idea that we need to scrub out all patriotic American stuff from films.

I think it's also evidence that there is a huge market out there for patriotic films if Hollywood abandons them, i.e. an opportunity for a new Hollywood to be created.

Also, note that there aren't any Chinese characters -- which is something Hollywood thinks is required to sell films in China.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Indeed. An excellent business opportunity with a loyal base for films like this, if done with quality in mind.

From the same Wiki: The actors dpent three weeks in bootcamp and in addition to that, Eckhart spent two moths with the Marines learning combat tactics and weapons training.

Impressive! And it shows.

Also, the director got his inspiration for filming, in part, by watching real life combat videos from Fallujah.

Just goes to show that when the director and actors take their work seriously and give 100% we get high quality work like this.

How dare a South African respect America! Why, the nerve!

Besides earning my respect the director obviously put some considerably thought into this film and knew what he wanted.

I like his clarity of vision.
Too many directors these days never seem to know what they want let alone how to get there.

I had a laugh when the director decided not to go 3-D because he was concerned about folks getting motion sickness, LOL.

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, It really does show. And more importantly, there is a lesson here. People say "write about what you know." And that's true. In fact, that's the best advice. But there is a caveat: "write about what you know or what you've studied."

I think too often writers/directors just watch a couple other current films and think they're experts. Nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, I see this a lot with legal dramas where the writer/director (some of whom are even lawyers) have clearly never had anything to do with litigation and yet they do stories about litigation. And the result is utter garbage. Writing is much like teaching and you can't teach something you don't understand yourself.

Also, back to the politics, I think it's interesting that the critics can't (or won't) see the effort that went into this film at all levels -- acting, writing, directing. They want to dismiss this film because they don't like its message and rather than being honest about that, they pretend it's just not a good film. And in the process they dismiss the very things they should be praising... because they don't want to admit something with a different political message is any good.

It's a lot like with The Blind Side. In fact, it's a nearly identical situation where, for political reasons, the critics try to sabotage a good film.

Individualist said...


You are spot on about this movie. I went to see it because there were so many trolls that were complaining about how terrible it was. I figure that meant it did not follow their version of reality.

I was really impressed although I really could not put into words the way you do. The thing I liked most was not the Patriotism but rather the way they showed the military.

The poise of the actors reminded me of many military people that I have met. The level of "coolness" that a military person carries themself with that can't really be explained only experienced.

The way the men and women fought together and were cohesive even when scared out of their heads. The way they fought togehter appeared to be something that "worked". Showing this level of preparedness and training among the military is something sorely lacking in films today.

Liberals spend so much toime trying to show soldiers freaking out and firing on innocents in blind terror but the soldiers shouldf have enough training that they at least direct their fear. At least I think the movie showed this.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Those are some good points. I would expect that reaction from critics if the film they were panning was The Green Zone, or one of the other dozen plus, anti-military bombs that was cranked out since 9/11.

The critics sure didn't see the same film we saw.
And many of the reviews I read maade no sense.

For instance, Roger Ebert called the movie "noisy, violent, ugly and stupid", giving the film a mere half star rating.

Apparently, Ebert prefers his war movies to be quiet, peaceful, pretty and smart.

Okay, I concur with the smart part, which the film was.
Ebert can't explain why the film is "stupid" because there ain't anything stupid in it so, like you say, he isn't honest about why he really hates it so he resorts to gibberish and unjustifiable as hominen attacks.

Ebert was literally being hysterical and probably dangerousely close to having a stroke.
He had an impotent rage and a blinding hatred that isn't explained by the words he used.

Virtually all the leftiist critics panned this film and that's pathetic, although the reasons varied.

Shows how out of touch (or "touched") they really are.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Indi! It's funny how liberals have to hate things they disagree with, isn't it?

You're right that liberals want to spend their time showing the military being full of angry, scared people who panic and kill civilians and who blindly follow orders without question, and who must be shown the error of their ways by the enlightened liberal main character.

But that's garbage. The reality is more like what you see on screen in this film. The military is made up of average Americans who are highly trained in how to deal with these situations. They may be scared and they may even panic at times, but they don't do the things liberal films routinely confuse them of doing. Some of them are bad, but the vast majority are what you see in this film. And the ones who are bad usually find themselves tried by the military itself.

If Hollywood wants to rebuild its relationship with the country, studying this film would be a smart way to start. They need to understand that this is how most American see their military -- brave, noble, resourceful, and self-sacrificing. And trying to present them as cowardly, bloodthirsty racists is never going to fly.

Anonymous said...

For instance, Roger Ebert called the movie "noisy, violent, ugly and stupid", giving the film a mere half star rating.

I believe I described Alien vs. Predator - Requiem the same way. :-)

Not to parse his comment, but "ugly" is a weird word to describe a film. Is he using it to describe the visual style of the film or the content itself? (Probably both.)

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, I think your description of Ebert being nearly-hysterical is closer than you realize. I've noticed in the past decade that when he disagrees with the politics of a film, he throws a borderline hissy-fit. He will attack the film as "stupid" and "ugly" and "confused," when the film is none of those things -- he just disagrees with the message. In fact, he will never admit he disagrees with the message. To the contrary, he uses the code-word "confused" and then pretends he has no idea what point the film is trying to make.

This has become so blatant that it's gotten to the point that he writes like a troll now and just throws out garbage that he wants people to think rather than any sort of valid analysis of the actual film.

And I've seen him do that repeatedly whenever he doesn't like the politics. There is no honor there, no integrity, and whatever talent he has is buried in his politics.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, See my last comment.

Ebert tries to pretend that he's not political. So you will almost never see him attack a movie directly over its political message. Instead, he uses "code words" to suggest meanings.

His favorite is "confused" when he doesn't agree with the message. This implies to the casual reader that the film was a jumble and had no clear message. To his fellow travelers it implies that the creator is an idiot, i.e. they "are confused" about things like politics. In this case, he's using "stupid" rather than "confused," for the same purpose.

"Ugly" implies both that it was visually uninspired (which it isn't -- it is in fact crawling with stunningly strong images (the film actually looks much better than the photos in the article above, but I couldn't find better photos), AND it implies that the film was made by people who have "ugly" views, i.e. racists. In the parlance of liberal politics, "ugly" means racist/hateful views.

So what he's saying is "racists made a film that is crawling with an ugly, hateful message."

By the way, "violent" is an interesting word, which doesn't actually describe this film at all. There is virtually no gore... actually none. There are no instances of brutality. There isn't even a high death toll on screen. In other words, this film is not violent by any rational definition. It is indeed, FAR less violent and infinitely less graphic than Saving Private Ryan.

So it's not clear what he means by "violent." My guess is that he's either trying to keep families from letting their kids see it by making it sound like a bloodbath, or he's using "violent" to suggest "primitive," i.e. "this film was made by conservative knuckle draggers who think violence solves problems."

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Andrew: Speaking of gore, the director made another wise decision in purposely making the film with very little gore (I think there's really only one scence that can possibly be construed as "violently" gory and that would be when the Staff Sgt. is trying to find where the alien's vital organs are).

The reason being that he wanted to add to the suspense.
For a young man he sure is Hitcockian wise.

Frankly, I've seen gorier commercials on tv.

I wonder if Ebert might have been appalled (hence contributing to his visceral rage) that the Staff Sgt would do such a thing without 'due process' for the alien, ergo: making the Staff Sgt as bad as the alien because he didn't get it an ACLU lawyer, LOL.

When Siskel was alive I don't recall Ebert being so foam at the mouth about anything conservative or pro-American/patriotic.

Or perhaps he just hid it better in those days.

At any rate, like Indy, I often will check a film out just because the lefty critics pan it and most the time I'm rewarded by a good flick.

And you are right on, they do use code words.
The one common code word I saw in all the reviews of Battle is "cliche" or "two dimensional."

Because reality (showing our military as they truly are) is a cliche man.

IOW's they don't know what the definition of cliche is.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Um, Hitchcockian not hitcockian.

No...really. That is a word, right? Right?

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, Even that scene isn't at all gory because there's zero blood -- just water. I've been trying to think of any gory moment in the film and there just isn't one. People don't get blown apart, there are no gaping wounds, no body parts strewn around and there isn't even any real blood -- just scrapes, bruises and quick death.

You're right about the use of the word "cliche" in this instance. A cliche is a word with a particular meaning. It's something that has been used so often that it feels stolen when you see it again. It can be characters, storyline or even words: "cold as ice" is a cliche.

And sometimes cliches are good, sometimes they are bad because they have very clear meanings. It depends on what you do with them that decides if they are good or bad.

I think Ebert's use of "cliche" in this instance (ditto on other liberal reviewers) isn't really an appropriate use because this film isn't full of things that you've seen so often before that they seem stolen.

Instead, I think he uses the word as a proxy for "trite." I think when he (they) say this film was "cliche," what they are really saying is: "it presents America and the American military in a trite way which stupid conservatives want to believe and it lacks the sophistication of liberal films which recognize the moral ambiguity and the inherent evil in America and the American military." That's what I think he really means when he says "cliche" in this instance. But saying that would alienate people, so he says "cliche" instead to imply the whole film is ridiculously simplistic and stolen.

Indeed, it rather surprised me at first to hear the word "cliche" with regard to this film because there were not nearly as many cliches in this film as in most films these days and they were resolved in ways that weren't typical.

AndrewPrice said...

I think I'll avoid commenting on your typo! LOL!

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Andrew: Well, I didn't think it was gory or unnecessarily violent in any way, shape or form.

Just thought, perhaps Ebert saw it that way, clouded by his bias and maybe needing a justification to lie to himself.

But I think you nailed his thought process very well and it really don't matter if Ebert is lying to himself or not.
It don't make him any less wrong.

Fortunately, he could hardly be less relevant or respected for his opinions and fabrications, as well as any on the sychopant left who march to the same looney tune.

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, I agree, I saw nothing unnecessarily violent about it. In fact, in hindsight, I don't recall much that modern audiences consider violent at all?

On Ebert, I think he's still influential on the left, but he's really disgraced himself on the right. The moment he started injecting politics into his reviews and his public opinions was the beginning of the end. And then his hateful Twitter rants have finished him off.

Patriot said...

I loved this movie. Watching it with my son, a Marine who returned from Anbar Province, he loved it because of all the "real" actions and dialogue between Marines. No big heroic actions just Marines watching out for one another and the people they are trying to protect. And following tactics the way it might actually happen in the film scenario.

BTW.....I'd love to see Lucifers Hammer made into a film someday.

AndrewPrice said...

Patriot, That's one of the first things I noticed about the film is that they got the little things right and they went for realism both in language and attitude and it truly paid off. I find the film to be a real tribute to the military and I find it a little (lot) insulting that so many of the reviewers were so nasty about it, which I suspect was all about politics.

Kelly said...

Lucifer's Hammer would be cool!

I liked this film a lot though I did want to see the bigger picture. In particular, I wanted to see how the rest of the world was doing, but I understand that wasn't the point of the film.

AndrewPrice said...

Kelly, On the one hand, I agree with you. I also kept wanted to know more. I think that's part of being a human -- wanting to see all the facts and knowing the big picture. But on the other hand, I don't think that would have added anything to the film because that wasn't the focus. As it is, they told enough to know how things were going, they just never showed it.

Kit said...

Just rewatched it.

I must say, for a military science-fiction movie filmed documentary-style and set in Los Angeles, the cinematography was, in a weird way, simply gorgeous.

I think someone pointed it out earlier.

The images of the soliders walking through the dust, the vast shots of a ruined LA, the destroyed FOB, even the combat scenes, which given the way it was filmed, should have been a mess, were stunning.

Also, the acting was amazing. Perfect, never over-the-top, I always believed they were who they were supposed to be, especially Aaron Eckhart.
Probably some of the best combat sequences since BLACK HAWK DOWN.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, I agree all around. This movie is so well done in every technical aspect as well as the acting and the story. This feels 100% real throughout, from the sets to the military protocols to the special effects. This is a truly inspired production. There isn't a moment where you don't believe everything about this film.

When I compare this with so many of the other recent war films that just never quite capture a sense of realism because they're so busy adding fake drama and unbelievable moments for the hero to do something obnoxious, there is just no comparison.

This film is awesome!

Kit said...

Interesting side note: The Viral marketing campaign (which features interviews with real UFO nuts) implies that the government was aware of the existence of aliens and covered it up.

You can argue the government's rapid response to a meteor shower backs this argument up.

Kit said...

The only time I felt the documentary-style did NOT work was the office scene at the beginning.

Other than that. It was used incredibly well.

AndrewPrice said...

That's a good point about the government being ready. Although it could also be argued that this would just be how they would normally react if they got photos of man-made appearing objects coming to Earth in a meteor cluster.

It's an interesting idea however. Next time I watch, I'll have to see if they drop more clues?

The beginning was a little jumbled, and the story definitely picks up once they assemble, but it's short enough that it doesn't bother me. If they had used the same style for a 20-30 minute beginning, then it would have been a real problem.

I did like how they gave you the whole backstory using CNN and fed it to you in small bites which added up very quickly. I thought that was a brilliant way to give you the backstory compared to the usual exposition or having a narrator.

Kit said...

Here is one of the Viral Marketing websites:

Some UFO nuts interviewed and includes some real (alleged) UFO sightings as the basis for the idea that the aliens have been watching us.

Now, did the US gov in the movie know about this? Never really discussed or mentioned.

Kit said...

Meteors appear out of nowhere (which, granted, is weird, as the movie states*) and by the next morning they are calling out everyone, not just the National Guard but the active service military as well. Could be Katrina-fear reflex (or an excuse by the writers to get the Marines in the field).

But, as you said, by that morning the military and gov had apparently figured out that they were not only slowing down but mechanical in nature so either way is fine.

It never had any bearing on the plot so it is nothing but some fun back-story speculation. :)

*The movie points out that we would have known about this many meteors well before they arrived on our doorstep -if they were meteors. FTL travel?

Kit said...

Also, on the gore note:

Despite no apparent gore, there are plenty of bodies littering the streets of LA.

The aliens hitting the beach features civilians being massacred.

A lot of death is implied (the news reports aliens lining people up and executing them).

The aliens clearly have genocide on their minds.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks for the link! LINK. I'll check that out!

There were several clues that this was unusual. The sudden appearance of the meteors, the mechanical nature, the fact they were all aiming to land next to major cities on the water. And then the fact they were slowing down. That all pointed to something possibly dangerous and certainly intelligent.

On the backstory, I think they give you enough to understand what you need for the film. The rest is up the Marines to discover for you as they go. That's one of the brilliant bits about the story, it presents you with the same information you would probably have gotten if you were sitting at home and this really happened. That's why it felt to realistic.

If they had gone to Washington and let you in on secret briefings with all kinds of top secret information and a storyline about some aliens we already held captive, etc., then I think it would have felt like a story. Instead, they gave us exactly the kind of information we got from CNN before the Gulf Wars and that put the audience into the right frame of mind.

AndrewPrice said...

I think you're right about the genocide idea. Where the news channel tells you that they rounded up civilians, lined them up in the street and shot them tells us that too. The aliens want the humans gone so they can take the water unmolested.

Nevertheless, I think the film made a great choice not doing the usual Hollywood thing with people getting blown apart and blood and body parts being strewn everywhere. That always seems fake. It seems like a movie. The way they showed the carnage here is how battlefields look when you see them on the news. They may not look that way up close in person, but this is how they look through a camera and that's how the audience will be accustomed to seeing them.

Also, I think it was smart not to pile the place with bodies because that would have been a downer, and this film was meant to be positive. Also, you can explain the relative lack of bodies because the people fled before the attack for the most part.

Kit said...

I agree.

They gave the us no more info than we needed and, for the movie, it worked brilliantly.

Perhaps if a sequel were done (unlikely), it could be explored.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, I've read there's talk about a sequel, but I guess that's always the case.

It would be interesting, but I'm not sure what they could add as a sequel without going pretty typically Hollywood and focusing on human infighting and secret plots, etc.

Kit said...

I've thought a comic book series would be good.

As for government foreknowledge . . . it could turn out they did not reveal all of the info because the politicians were afraid it would look bad if the public knew that the gov was aware of alien existence beforehand.

Something that is sadly plausible given our current crop of politicians.

I don't mind a bit of human infighting. The movie had the whole Lockett-Nantz issue. Of course, the movie made sure that neither did anything incredibly stupid over it (a route a lot of writers take).

How does humanity win the war. There are still many cities arond the world with aliens in them. They had lost contact with San Diego and San Francisco and there were "massive casualties" in New York City. Boston was mentioned as well. Then you had Tokyo, Moscow (is there any water near that city?), London, Paris, Rio De Janeiro, etc.

Surprised the Middle East wasn't hit. Guess the aliens felt it wasn't worth it. ;)

There are a lot of battles that need to be fought. I know you had the "send the word out and tell 'em how to bring those sons of bitches down"* mention at the end.

But there is still a lot more fighting to be had at the end.

*That line is from Independence Day, by the way.

AndrewPrice said...

The problem is that with sequels, you always need to up the stakes or move the story along to the next level. And that runs the risk of changing the very nature of the story and making the first one seem smaller.

Also, I'm not sure how they would raise the stakes here without losing the feel of this movie and my fear would be that they would try to bring in all the bad tropes just to generate that feel of "the next level."

In other words, rather than now doing something like a Saving Private Ryan to free somewhere like Tokyo, I would be concerned that they would instead shift the focus from the platoon and instead start to add things like the evil CIA guy with an dirty mission or the evil General who sees a chance to settle old scores or even delve.

Obviously we don't know what they would do, but that is the potential problem because that's how Hollywood often does it.

Kit said...

Here are some ideas:

Bring another species into the fold to be a wild card. You don't know whether they will stay neutral or get involved in the conflict.

Bring in a character of another race who can help provide exposition and tech for the humans.

That is how I would do a sequel or comic book series.

AndrewPrice said...

Those are good ideas.

I would probably do a Normandy style invasion of somewhere like Tokyo, and deal with the unit being sent behind the lines as recon before the invasion. That would allow you to repeat much of the "behind the lines" feel of this one, plus could lead to a hell of a final scene where the invasion hangs in the balance of something they need to do like find the CiC unit, which has now been hidden. Plus, that lets you continue to highlight the American military if you picked Japan because they don't have much of a military.

Then in the third film, I would introduce the other alien race. And I would make them aggressors who don't like either the humans or the other aliens, so you get a three way fight with the possibility of helping one enemy to beat another without knowing exactly which is worse.

Kit said...

I get the feeling a good sequel is about as likely as FIREFLY getting renewed. :(

AndrewPrice said...

Yeah. Tell me about it. Sadly, in these instances, the sequels are usually carbon copies of the originals, done with less money, with a few gimmicks thrown in, just trying to suck some easy dollars out of people's pockets.

I'd love to see them start Firefly again. But that's not happening either.

Kit said...

Also, could humans reverse engineer alien tech?

Bringing in a good guy alien (who "immigrated" to Earth) helping the humans build tech for interstellar travel could be important.

The main team could find him and have to protect him from the evil aliens (who wante him dead.). The movie could be about the team protecting him behind the enemy lines while he helps them launch a final defeat against the aliens.

Also, I would make him another species. And human-looking. Or at least able to make himself look human.

Kit said...

FIREFLY was awesome.

"I aim to misbehave."

AndrewPrice said...

That would be a good storyline too!

Let's just hope that if they do make a sequel, that they are thinking along these lines because they could make a really good sequel if they think about it.

Firefly is awesome. I don't know any conservatives who've seen it and don't like it. I really liked the bounty hunter (Jubal Early) in the final episode who is roaming the ship saying things like, "does that make sense to you?"

Kit said...

Another thing a sequel could show would be the civilian refugee situation. With most major coastal cities under attack the refugee situation would be massive. Think Katrina -but worse.

Would they set up Refugee Camps? (Likely) I imagine they would be run by the National Guard (martial law is probably in effect for a sizeable part, if not all, of the country) as well as various charitable organizations such as the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, etc. would be there.
I do wonder if you would have children being sent to households within the interior of the country like the UK did in WW2.

Would there be a draft? Perhaps the sequel would have Nantz dealing with draftees.

AndrewPrice said...

If they remain conservative, then there would not be a draft. There would instead be a flood of volunteers because that's how the American spirit responds.

If they stayed true to the spirit, then I doubt they would get into the refuge thing because that treads on politics and the film avoided all the politics to deal with just how the military would respond. I could, however, see them having to evacuate a refuge camp?

Kit said...

Well, a refugee camp needn't be a hell-hole.

I doubt it would be as bad as what we see in the Middle East and Africa once every year.

Kit said...

It would be interesting to see various Salvation Army and volunteer organizations working at the Refugee Camps.

I also imagine it would be more of a place to keep them until they can leave for the inside of the country.

Kit said...

It would also allow for a moment like the scene in LONGEST DAY where the Nuns calmly walk past gunfire to give medical aid to the Free French Commandos.

AndrewPrice said...

What I mean is that things like refugee camps have been turned into political statements by leftists. Hollywood uses them as cheap emotional props to separate good guys from bad. This film hasn't done that sort of thing yet.

Also, refuge camps are political rather than military institutions. So I think if they shifted from fighting aliens to focusing on refugee camps, that would be a dramatic shift in the feel/tone of the movie and would probably bring with it a different political message.

They would need to be very careful how they handled it or they would end up in the middle of a huge cliche.

Kit said...

I see your point.

But, if handled right, it could show how amazing the American Spirit is.

Another moment would be nuns or salvos or random civilians walking up and giving water bottles to the troops.

As for the draft, I think even with a massive flood of volunteers, you would have a draft. Because that is how the government would roll.

AndrewPrice said...

That's true. If they handled it right and avoided the cliches, it could be a tremendous statement about American generosity as well as the American spirit to overcome adversity. And it would be kind of cool to see nuns roaming the battlefield unafraid. :)

I wouldn't doubt that the government would call up a draft. But as a conservative, I'd prefer to see more than enough American volunteer so that a draft wouldn't even be needed. But you're right, they would start calling people up immediately.

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