At The Movies: Battle Los Angeles, Red Riding Hood

I couldn’t be bothered to see “Mars Needs Moms.” Given the quality of what I did see, maybe I should have.

Battle: Los Angeles

Alien invasion movies are so stupid.

Look, if aliens have figured out interstellar travel then they are already light-years ahead of us technologically. We can’t even get to Mars, and it’s right next door. If they’re coming here for the express purpose of taking over the planet, then they will have done their homework. They won’t be intimidated by our rifles and hand grenades. It would be like a Marine platoon taking on a Boy Scout troop.

Oh, and apologies to H. G. Wells, but they’re probably going to be aware of germs and bacteria.

But Hollywood — and audiences — love an underdog.  Which is why from “Independence Day” to “Avatar,” technologically advanced invading armies are always beat back by primitive, but plucky, natives. It’s a good thing screenwriters don’t read history books.

Which brings us to “Battle: Los Angeles.” When a meteor shower turns out to be cover for an alien invasion, the armies of the world are called on to fight back.

Aaron Eckhart (who’s really slumming it) stars as Staff Sergeant Michael Nantz.  He’s a veteran Marine who’s just weeks away from retirement.  His last mission didn’t go so well and several of the men under his command didn’t make it back. As a result, not too many people want to serve under him. Oh, the drama.

When the aliens attack, Nantz is ordered to join a platoon of standard war-movie clichés, I mean soldiers, led by — you guessed it — a new lieutenant who is book smart but has no actual experience in the field.

The squad has been sent into enemy territory to rescue some civilians who are trapped at the Los Angeles Police Department headquarters. Along the way they pick up spunky Tech Sgt. Elena Santos (Michelle Rodriguez), to prove that it’s not just men who can fight off extraterrestrial threats.

While rescuing the civilians amid multiple firefights, the Marines deduce there is a giant command-control ship hidden in LA. If this handful of soldiers can overcome overwhelming resistance and take out the command ship, it could turn things around.

“Battle: Los Angeles” is more war movie than science fiction. The special effects are decent and some of the firefights are exciting. It’s when they stop to delve into the personal lives of the characters that the film bogs down.

And to be fair, the movie doesn’t end with the invaders turning tail and heading back to Alpha Centauri or wherever. The soldiers may win a battle but the war still goes on. And should the box office warrant it, I’m sure it will.

Did it work for me? “Battle: Los Angeles” works well if you enjoy watching someone else play a video game, but you’d probably be better off just playing a video game.

Red Riding Hood

Sometimes I’ll go to a movie that looks bad with the hope that “maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised.”

And sometimes it works out. Not many people had high hopes for “Pirates of the Caribbean” before it opened. “The Matrix” didn’t look that promising, either. I almost skipped “The Sixth Sense” because it looked like another lame Bruce Willis movie.

Yes, sometimes you can be pleasantly surprised by a film.

This is not one of those times.

While the year is still young, I’m confident that “Red Riding Hood” will be remembered when they make up next year’s Razzie nominations. The only thing I can recommend about this movie is the “Sucker Punch” trailer that ran before it.

Amanda Seyfried stars as Valerie, a young woman living in a medieval village tormented by a werewolf. The villagers have reach an agreement with the monster, and every full moon they leave out an animal sacrifice to appease it.

But Valerie has bigger concerns. Her mother (Virginia Madsen) has arranged for her to marry Henry (Max Irons), son of the town blacksmith. Henry’s a much better catch than Valerie’s longtime love Peter (Shiloh Fernandez), a lowly woodcutter.

Meanwhile, Wolfy has broken the truce and killed Valerie’s older sister. This prompts one of the villagers to call in Solomon the Werewolf Hunter (Gary Oldman). Solomon points out that the werewolf is likely one of the villagers — hiding in plain sight. Or maybe it’s the eccentric old lady who lives alone outside the village. You know — Grandma (Julie Christie).

“Red Riding Hood” is rife with bad acting, bad dialogue and tired plot turns. It’s directed by Catherine Hardwicke, who directed the first “Twilight” movie and clearly that young-cursed-lovers angle is what they’re going for. This movie is such a pale imitation it made me yearn for the “Twilight” movies, and we all know how I feel about them.

Please don’t go see this movie. Please do not encourage them. I really don’t want to have to sit through “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” in which Goldie has a star-crossed affair with Junior Were-Bear.

Did it work for me? If you must watch a takeoff on Red Riding Hood this weekend, I recommend “Little Red Riding Rabbit” starring Bugs Bunny. Available on YouTube. It’s intentionally funny.

 

 

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One response to “At The Movies: Battle Los Angeles, Red Riding Hood

  1. You weremuch kinder to Red Riding Hood than I thought you would be. It was terrible.

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