March 20, 2011

Movie Monday: Battle:LA

I should preface by saying, I had like sky-high expectations for this movie. Primarily because of reviews like this, this and this. Star Aaron Eckert said in an interview,
“This movie, in my opinion, is meant to be a love letter to the Marines. We had their full cooperation. They had my full cooperation. I tried to get it right. I think this movie is very reverent towards the military and reverent towards the ranks, both the officers and the Marines and the grunts. I don’t see how any Marine can see this movie and feel like they’ve been at all taken advantage of. I think this is going to be an oo-rah moment for them.”
So naturally, even though the military has generally been screwed by Hollywood for the last decade, I was anxious to see this one. Luckily, SoldierMan also wanted to see it badly enough to go see it in theaters. And so Friday night, we went.

As we sat in the theater, watching it fill up, couples and groups walked in, talking, texting and munching on ginormous buckets of popcorn (I don't think I saw one "small" bucket, which was interesting in itself.). Throughout the previews, people talked, texted and munched.

20 minutes into the movie, no one was moving. I made a point to watch the crowd. Every eye was glued to the screen. It's that engrossing.

First, this is NOT a sci-fi movie, it's a war movie. Being a sci-fi lover, I feel qualified to make that distinction. This is not Independence Day or War of the Worlds, where the story is about aliens, trying to outrun them or understand their technology or anything like that. This is a war movie, where the enemy just happens to be aliens. The aliens are really just placeholders, and could be easily replaced by any enemy nation capable of invasion-level forces, like China. Instead, they went with (politically-neutral) aliens. But the movie isn't about aliens, it just has aliens in it.

The basic story is this: earth is under attack. A Marine unit at Camp Pendleton is tasked with rescuing a group of civilians behind enemy lines (the aliens pretty much overtake LA in a matter of a few hours). In the process, they are joined by elements from both the Air Force and the Army. So everyone is represented. They have 3 hours to get in and out before the Air Force flattens LA, destroying the alien's command center. (Fear not, the movie is not 3 hours long!)

The best part of the movie is, as everyone has said, the characters. Not one of the marines/soldiers/airmen we meet is a latent sadistic psychopath, a mindless illiterate drone, or secretly aiding the enemy. They aren't saints, of course, but they are driven. They are committed to their mission - saving the group of civilians, primarily composed of children - and are willing to do whatever it takes to protect their charges and complete the mission, to the point of self-sacrifice.

Which reminds me: this is a war movie. People die. People you don't want to die, die. Fair warning.

The troops are men and women, enlisted and officer, married and single, from all races, all over the country - there is even a marine earning his citizenship through his enlistment. You couldn't get a better across-the-board representation of the armed forces, and all of them serve with honor and distinction.

It's an intense movie, taking place almost completely on the front lines of this battle. And I definitely teared up several times. I did outright cry once.

There was also a moment when I leaned over to SoldierMan and said, "If you ever do that, I will kill you." You'll know it when you see it.

A couple of technical things: it's done completely with shaky-cam. I understand why they did, and for the purpose of the story, it makes sense. But I had a mild case of motion sickness for about 15 minutes after the movie was over. If you had issues with Cloverfield, take your non-drowsy Dramamine before hitting this one.

And yes, there are a few times they take dramatic license with the story. Like, they call a FOB an "eff oh bee," or else just completely say "forward operating base." Like, "Let's go, Marines, we need to get to that forward operating base!" Ha. I know they have to do that for the general public, and after the first...20 or so get used to it.

It's almost a full two hours, but it's a full two hours. You don't feel it. Really, go see this movie. This week. Go. Go to Fandango right now and buy tickets. You'll walk out a proud American, and a proud milspouse, no matter your branch.


  1. Crap. Now I wanna go see it. Not that I didn't before, but now I REALLY want to see it. 2 problems: shaky cam and deployed hubby. *sigh* I really will have to wait til this one comes out on DVD!!

  2. Oh that's exciting to hear! I wanted to see it because I have a secret love of alien movies. Knowing it is a war movie makes it much cooler so I sound much less like a dork. But hey, I did love will smith in independence day.

  3. Ooh, I will have to go see this when it comes to our Military Post here in Germany! Thanks for the review!

    And I noticed that my blog is listed in your sidebar! Thank you SO much! ♥

  4. Hello! I am new to your blog and really enjoy your writing.

    I saw this movie, and was very interested in seeing it because we are stationed out here at Pendleton. Your right, the movie had great characters. I felt it did a good job portraying our military. Finally! I think I was so upset with how Avatar portrayed the military, I was scared about this one. But overall it was great.

    However, I think my expectations were a little too high, and the fact that most of the movie portrayed Marines, I could sit there and point out things Marines wouldn't ever do. But that's just me being too critical.

  5. I want to see this movie really bad! Stupid school is getting in the way though; so it may be a couple of weeks.

  6. My hubby just arrived home from 8 months of training and we went to watch this movie. I was a mess. I came home and cried and cried. And it was exactly as you say-- it's a war movie, not a sci-fi movie. Too real, too close to home, for me at least. (I'm a new military wife, plus being post-partum doesn't help!!). Definitely not my type of movie, but have to agree that it's nice that hollywood did a better job of representing the military!

  7. I can't even tell you how utterly excited I am that you saw and reviewed this! For weeks, I've been making a list of movies to go see with Mr. Superman and this has been on the top. I am even more excited now!

  8. I was lucky enough to see this movie with my hubs, a 1stSgt in the Infantry and my son a Marine Option Midshipmen. Like most military movies I was waiting for the critism from my two It never came. They liked it, said it was ok. Same hits you said, FOB was not pronounced right and the beginning when the SSgt was getting out at 20 (duh, in the Marines if you are still a SSgt at 20 you HAVE to get choice) and little things like that but over all liked it. I was a bit put off by the "female" token and the fact that she was Airforce and so "weaponized" made it a little unrealitstic to me but it was still a good movie.

  9. Wow! The previews and trailers are completely misleading then. I always thought it was another one of those alien movies (sorry, I am not into science fiction at all). Your review however completely changed my mind. I told my husband that we have to go watch it now. :)

  10. I loved this movie! I had to laugh about the FOB comment; my husband said exactly the same thing! lol


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