Battle: Los Angeles. Wow. Someone Wrote That.
The most telling anecdote I can provide about Battle: Los Angeles is that almost every cheese-drenched “dramatic” moment drew raucous laughter from the audience, and trust me, these were no beardy chai sniffers amused by their own detachment. This was a Michael Bay crowd, answering texts during the film and calling each other “f_ggot.” I.e., the target demographic. They weren’t looking for, nor would even probably recognize high art, and even to them, Battle LA‘s earnest attempts at depth were inept to the point of comedy. Can you imagine? That’s like a kindergarten teacher getting clowned by his students. Meanwhile, a less telling anecdote about Battle Los Angeles is that the guy sitting next to me smelled like onions he’d marinated in his own butt.
Hmmm… how much exposition to do here… Aaron Eckhart is a Marine staff sergeant on the eve of his retirement. Aliens invade. Aaron Eckhart is too old for this sh*t. He beats them up and inspires a nation with his heroic chin of valor. Done and done. Battle Los Angeles has been compared many times to Independence Day, for obvious reasons, but there’s one key difference. In Independence Day, we got to know a handful of characters in different places and follow them as their lives became interconnected by DA ALIENZ. In Battlefield LA, we literally get title cards with characters’ names on them like baseball ball cards we’re expected to memorize in the first act. Black Dude With Glasses, starting philosophizer, The Los Angeles People Running from Sh*t. Shoots: right. Screams: towards the Heavens.
Jonathan Liebesman and screenwriter Chris Bertolini’s main strategy for getting us to care about the individual elements in this interchangeable Benneton pastiche of race/age matched at random to Hollywood backstory clichés seems to be the “grandpa joke.” Like if we can just see each character ball busting with his buddies for a few seconds, it will totally humanize them as a someone we should give a sh*t about. Impressive examples of this include:
JOVIAL FELLOW BLACK GUY SOLDIER: (to Eckhart, exhausted after his morning run) Just remember, Sergeant, you’re only as old as you feel!
ECKHART: Then I must be in trouble! Because I can’t feel anything!
[They both laugh]
Wait, what? Why are you in trouble? If you’re as old as you feel, and you can’t feel anything… wouldn’t that make you… zero years old? THESE ARE THE GRANDPA JOKES OF IDIOTS. Another scene, in which Aaron Eckhart shows up to his long-time friend and commanding officer’s office to turn in his retirement papers, begins like this:
ECKHART: Oh, here’s that photo you and I took with a camel. …I mean, YOUR GIRLFRIEND!
[They both laugh]
GET TO THE ROFLCOPTER, THAT IS A KNEE-SLAPPER! And by that I mean if you actually found it funny enough to say out loud, I’d like to use my knee to slap your nuts into your stomach.