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Battle Los Angeles: Summer Begins In March

battle-los-angeles-movie-reviewBy Chauncey Telese

Hey Now! The time is now 2:30 a.m. and I just got home from the midnight show of “Battle: Los Angeles” and to stay awake I’m currently listening to Notorious B.I.G.’s “Ready to Die” album. Anyway, it’s been another interesting week, hasn’t it?

 

The second greatest rock star from Mars (David Bowie being the first) got fired from “Two and a Half Men” and proceeded to stand on top of a building with a machete to celebrate his new-found freedom. I hope the Condor of Calabasas can land on his feet perhaps on HBO or Showtime because he can’t produce web videos forever right? Oh well, he’s suing CBS for $100 million and I’d be totally on his side if he hadn’t turned on Ducky; that’s not cool, Jon Cryer didn’t ask to choose between being with the trolls or the Messiah of Malibu. I’m thrilled the rumors of Rob Lowe replacing Charlie were untrue and that he will remain part of “Parks and Recreation,” which is where he belongs.


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Miley Cyrus stunk out the joint on SNL last week and while I’m not surprised she was bad, I didn’t think she’d be THAT bad. I don’t know what happened the week of the show but you can tell the cast kept her on a short leash. All she did was sing in every sketch and defer to people with comedic timing (lucky for her The Strokes were good otherwise it would’ve been a historically bad show). Plus the way she was joking about her salvia use and subsequent partying were shades of 2006 Lindsay Lohan (and we know how that turned out, though to be fair to Lohan, she was funny that night). I give Miley about eight moths before something horrible goes wrong and she becomes another Britney Spears. Oh well, Zach Galifinakis is hosting this weekend so that should make up for last week. Also, after watching “Glee” I realized that some network or cable should give Gwyneth Paltrow the Godfather offer, and give her a TV show. She was destined to be on TV and although she has an Oscar, if you look at her movie career between “Shakespeare in Love” and “Iron Man,” her track record is spotty at best so I think she might be inclined to do TV, plus it’ll curb her desire to sing (she was allegedly offered a record contract and for the sake of humanity I hope she declines).

The Teen Nick channel is doing right by the twenty somethings who made them who they are and are putting on reruns of “All That,” “Clarissa Explains it All,” “Keenan N Kel” and other classics. Way to go Nick!

Also, the Heat found a way to knock off the Lakers (with some help from shady officiating down the stretch) and avoided a complete freefall though I doubt it’ll last. If El Heat want to succeed, LeBron should give the closing minutes of all games to Wade, otherwise they will crash and burn. The Chicago Bulls are now my pick to represent the East in the Finals and Derrick Rose will be the league MVP. March Madness starts Tuesday so prepare your brackets on Sunday.

“Lights Out” is getting better and better since Ed Romeo started training Lights. I love this character and hope that his firing this week won’t last because the guy’s awesome. “Justified” is hitting its stride and I’m dying to see what Raylan does about the Bennett Clan and the Dixie Mafia. Also, Boyd Crowder is becoming one of the best characters on TV and the credit not only goes to the writers but to the brilliant and underrated Walton Goggins. “Shameless” is winding down and I think it’s finally becoming the show I envisioned it to be. My only complaint is that I wish they would’ve found a better actress to play the Gallagher’s mom, but other then that the show is really getting good.

As I said earlier tonight, I saw “Battle: Los Angeles” and I must say my expectations were LOW! I figured the movie would be a colossal waste of time and a forgettable action movie meant to prelude the summer movie season. I was proven to be almost wrong because the movie would be a colossal waste of time if not for the efforts of Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez, and the director Jonathan Liebsman.

The movie starts in August of this year and we see the battle in full force. L.A. is in ruins and somehow the humans are hanging on. Flashback to I suppose about right now with “California Love” blaring out of a car as Staff Sgt. Nantz (Aaron Eckhart) is running along the beaches at Camp Pendleton. He is about to retire after 20 years in the Marine Corps and he has had enough. He is not liked by his platoon because of rumors regarding his last mission in Iraq and the resulting deaths of his men. Sgt. Nantz is assigned to 2nd Lt. William Martinez’s squad and they must do crowd control after mysterious meteors are landing off the coast of Santa Monica. Of course, these meteors turn out to be alien invaders looking to wipe all of us out and presumably take out water. Half of the men are wiped out after a helicopter is blown up (not a spoiler, it’s in the trailer) and there are seven Marines remaining as they all try to reach the Santa Monica airport because it’s turned into a military F.O.B.

That’s basically the story and you know what? That’s fine by me. The movie is basically “Black Hawk Down” except instead of Somalians, we’re battling aliens. We are sort of shown who these soldiers are but really they are clichés of people we’ve all seen before and we never really get to know them but are compelled to care about them because they are defending us. Liebsman decided to shoot the movie hand-held camera style and that adds to the war movie feel. We are in the foxhole with the Marines and we learn how they think, how they figure out the aliens’ weakness, and how they survive. The action scenes are amazing, particularly the battle on the 10 Freeway, it is on par with most war movies and really keeps the audience engrossed in soldiers’ activity. However, I alluded to the fact that it almost becomes a good movie and that the actors manage a Herculean effort to make us care about what’s going on. The writing is godawful and chock full of some of the worst dialogue in a while. They try to cram some civilians into the story in order to try and humanize everything, but it ends up nearly derailing the entire movie. Eckhart deserves a raise for pulling out a great performance with nothing to work with and confirmed my belief that he is one of the most under-appreciated actors in the business. Michelle Rodriguez is her usual tough self and makes sure the movie never goes entirely too soft. Again, the action is top notch, the effects are fantastic, and the aliens actually look unique and not an amalgam of other aliens we usually see in movies.

I was prepared to tear this movie apart and wonder why they just didn’t call it “The Battle for Los Angeles” and use a ton of Rage Against the Machine songs (not a bad thing by the way) to mask a terrible story. The actors and the director manage to almost make that an unnecessary idea and give us a gritty war movie that will entertain you for a good two hours and really that’s all you can ask for these days.

If aliens are not your thing then by all means check out “Red Riding Hood” or “Mars Needs Moms”.

Thank you for reading and stay tuned as next week I get probed by “Paul” and get into a “Win Win” situation with Paul Giamatti.

Remember you can see these and other fine films at your local Edwards.