Battle: Los Angeles

Battle: Los Angeles stars Aaron Eckhart as Marine Sergeant Micheal Nantz. He is one of those old war veterans who has seen many deaths on the battlefield and is constantly plagued with survivor’s guilt. Sgt. Nantz decides to take on one last assignment to help the new recruits adjust with their deployment and then he can quietly retire and do other things. Sgt. Nantz’s plans change however when Los Angeles is attacked by aliens who want the earth’s water supply. Most of the military and air force get taken out within a matter of hours and it’s up to Sgt. Nantz and his company of marines to hold the line and attempt to neutralize the alien threat.

Battle Los Angeles is a movie that tries to be an epic action picture but lacks the story and strong supporting characters to pull it off. This film is reminiscent of Independence Day (1996) but lacks characters and a story with any emotional depth. The entire supporting cast is defined by cliché armed forces archetypes: the trigger happy soldier, the new guy, the gruff veteran, the soldier with a grudge, and the soldier with a wife and kid on the way. Nothing throughout the movie ever endears me to these characters. The editing of the action sequences is choppy and do nott allow you to really follow the soldiers in combat. A lot of the camera work that is used are close ups and wide shots. In the close ups, characters are rarely ever displaying any emotional truth to the situation they are in. I’ve seen a few military movies in my time and in well made films there is always one well timed emotional moment that allows you to feel the weight of what these soldiers carry in battle. That is not present in this film. The director of this film is Jonathan Liebesman and the other films in his directing portfolio are all in the horror genre. While I understand this filmmakers desire to branch out and do something different he doesn’t tell the story in a unique way. If I were directing this film I would have shot their last stand as a POV piece so the audience could get a sense of how each individual soldier is dealing with their time on the battlefield. This is another opportunity for a film to show audiences what our men and women in the armed forces struggle with but instead we get a propaganda piece. The war rages on but it isn’t worth your time to watch it.

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Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Rise of the Planet of the Apes hereafter known as ROTPOTA stars James Franco, Frieda Pinto, John Lithgow, and Andy Serkis.  The film is centered around an ape named Caesar who inherited a special drug that was taken by his mother.  Caesar’s mother was test subject for an Alzheimer antidote drug.  Caesar gets taken home by Will Rodman, the man who invented the drug.  What follows in the film is a special relationship between Will and Caesar from Cesar’s point of view.  Caesar is eventually removed from Will’s care after he attacks one of Will’s neighbors.  While in the ape center Caesar learns the cruelty of human beings and the pain apes have endured over the years.

The thing about ROTPOTA is that it basically erases all of the other previous films in the series.  The director and screenwriters are making their own continuity and because of that you don’t need any previous knowledge other than the fact that apes exist.  Andy Serkis does the motion capture for Cesar and his performance is involving and moving.  All of the expressions on Caesar’s face are not only realistic but also genuine representations of what that character would feel in terms of emotion.  The film works solely if you sympathize with what Caesar has to go through.  The film is not filled with many action set pieces, but when the apes get angry bad things happen.  This film has a lot of heart and I think it exists to teach and remind humans of their own humanity.  I also think the film works to show the audience what can be accomplished in life through kindness and being understanding of others.  Caesar is a rare character, he has no life goals or skills that would make him want success.  The only thing that matters to Caesar is whether or not he feels loved and understood.  I think that is what makes him as a protagonist so likable.  He has no agenda.  He just wants to be cared for and to care for others.  Small children should not be allowed to see this film because it will terrify them.  For everyone this film is essentially summer viewing.  ROTPOTA teaches us to cherish what we have and I for one am thankful they reminded me of that.  Apes may be considered our closest ancestor but they are also a group we can learn much from.

I’ll see you at the movies!

Glee: The 3D Concert Movie

Glee The 3D Concert movie can be described best by this wikipedia synopsis:  Glee Live! In Concert! is a concert tour performed by members of the cast of the popular television series,Glee. The tour, created by series creator Ryan Murphy was designed due to the overwhelming response to the series.  For those of you who don’t know what Glee is. Glee is about a high-school Spanish teacher becomes the director of the school’s Glee club, hoping to restore it to its former glory.  In short, I went to see Glee: The 3D Concert Movie.

There is nothing special about this concert film.  People like Glee because the music is good.  Glee has charm and bits of heart and this concert film was made to remind us of that.  There is no plot to this specific film.  They sing one song and then have a moment with the actors backstage in character.  This formula repeats itself throughout the entire film until all of the favorites on the song list have been sung.  The few true honest moments that occur in the film have nothing to do with the actors or the songs.  There are small portions when the director interviewed people who were positively affected by watching Glee on TV.  While all of the stories are moving in some small way, there aren’t enough small stories to make the director’s pitiful attempt at testimonials worth investing in.  The songs are sung well by the actors but the 3D is not utilized well and as a result makes the concert movie feel like a cash grab for those who are fans of the show.  Glee as a show works because it asks its audience to accept those around them that are different from them.  The show teaches people that they should accept someone whether that person is anorexic, homosexual, a cutter, autistic or has aspergers disease.  The show is a hit because of the positive message it puts out and I like the idea that a show can respect the individual differences people have.  I have a problem though when producers start exploiting their fanbase for money.  Sadly, that is what this film feels like.  This film is by no means a bad time at the movies, but it is only enjoyable if you are familiar with the show and its characters.  It’s not the worst movie I’ve seen this year, but it’s far from the best.