Monthly Archives: March 2011

Review: Battle Los Angeles

Battle Los Angeles could possibly be this decade’s Independence Day. It’s chock full of every alien invasion tropes, tons of hand held camera shots, gunfire, CGI effects, etc. And it was, I think, what the movie Skyline was trying to be.

The plot is pretty straightforward: aliens have landed in every major city around the globe and is planning to invade the planet. The setting of the film’s on Los Angeles and it’s up to a band of Marines to save the day.

I’d like to keep this review short so I’m dividing this review into The Good and The Bad.

The Good

Action wise, it’s pretty good. There are a lot of gunfire, dead marines, civilians, and an alien being “dissected” alive. The film’s not very gory but it is violent. On a side note, most action scenes reminded me of the Modern Warfare games. In fact, I kinda felt that the whole film is kinda like a video game. It was pretty cool.

The script is effective. Like I said earlier, the plot is pretty straightforward. The characters might come off as cardboard cutouts but their characterization is enough for what the story required. Dialogue-wise, there are some cheesy lines, but they’re not distracting. Too bad the lines aren’t as bad-ass as Bill Pullman‘s speech in Independence Day.

The effects work so far as the story requires it. ‘Nuff said.

The Bad

I thought that the use of the shaky-cam was too much. I’m sure that the filmmakers wanted to convey a sense of grittiness and realism, particularly because the events are seen through the eyes of marines. Unfortunately  there’s just too many things happening on screen that the shaky-cam makes it difficult for the audience to properly see what’s happening. Plus, there was a moment when I felt kinda dizzy from the hand-held camera.

Regarding the alien design, I thought they were  uninspired. They look like cheaply rendered cousins of the prawns from District 9. Additionally, the mother ship design in Battle Los Angeles also looks like the mother ship from District 9. Now I didn’t find this very distracting but I thought the lack of creativity in the alien design was a bit jarring.

Finally, the film was over scored. It wouldn’t have been distracting if only the music was good: it wasn’t. The theme (or lack thereof) wasn’t as inspiring as David Arnold‘s score in Independence Day. Additionally, the music kinda gave away “spoilers” in select scenes, meaning that it wasn’t effective in capturing the emotional aspect of the story.

The Verdict

The film isn’t one of those “life-changing experiences” type of film. It’s what it is: a military film with aliens. It isn’t the best alien invasion movies ever made, but it was entertaining.

It’s worth a watch in the movie house but it’s something that you guys could also wait for on DVD. ;)

Oscar Profile: Martin Scorsese

It’s just been two days since Oscar Night, and again, I found myself researching on past “winners” of the coveted Oscar, to try to find a pattern regarding films which we consider “Oscar Bait”. But upon discovering a whole bunch of filmmakers who’ve been “robbed” of the Oscar, I decided to simply focus on one guy. A filmmaker who, next to John William’s who is one the biggest losers in Oscar history (I don’t care if he was nominated for 45 Oscars, he only won 5 of those).

Director Martin Scorsese’s first film to be nominated for Best Picture was Taxi Driver. He lost to Sylvester Stallone‘s Rocky. This was in 1976.

His next film to be nominated for Best Picture was Raging Bull, where he also received his first nomination for Best Director. He lost the Oscar to Robert Redford, who made the film Ordinary People (and which also happens to be Redford’s directorial debut).

His next nomination was for The Last Temptation of Christ. And,  well, let’s not go there…

Then one film came where the people thought that Scorsese was sure to bag that elusive Oscar. It was Goodfellas, a gangster film which some considered to be best ganster film since The Godfather, and which many also considered to be Scorsese’s best film in his career. Come Oscar night, he lost, again to another first-time director named Kevin Costner, for his film Dances with Wolves (which would later be imitated by The Last Samurai, to an extent Brother Bear, and James’ Cameron’s Avatar).

Just when will Scorsese ever bag that Oscar? Well, for a while there, he was again nominated for Gangs of New York in 2002, but then lost to Roman Polanski for his work in The Pianist. Then came 2004 where Scorsese was again nominated for The Aviator, which many again considered to be one of his best films. It was also considered the Oscar favorite of the year. Then Clint Eastwood pulled the rug under Scorsese’s feet when he won the Oscar for his work on Million Dollar Baby. My goodness, Scorsese will never win the Oscar now.

Then in 2006, Scorsese directed a remake of the Hong Kong thriller Infernal Affairs, titled The Departed. It was practically Infernal Affairs transplanted to a Boston setting. Now, on the surface, it was a decent film and, at times, quite intense. People die left and right, and the tension was delivered properly. But it was still a remake of a Hong Kong film at it’s core, and Scorsese did nothing new with the story.

He wins that elusive “Best Directing” Oscar that year. His fellow nominees that year were the following: Clint Eastwood (Letters from Iwo Jima), Paul Greengrass (United 93), Stephen Frears (The Queen), and Alejandro González Iñárritu (Babel). The Departed is a weak film as compared to the films that year (Eastwood’s offering was certainly the best, next to the powerful United 93). Yet, Scorsese bagged that Oscar.

Fifteen years, losing to less than stellar films, only to win that coveted Oscar for a less than stellar film.