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Richard Roeper Blog

Battle: Los Angeles. Cliches: everywhere.

If you Goggle “Battle: Los Angeles cliches,” this is what you get:

It’s nearly impossible to review the film without mentioning the overwhelming number of cliches that pop up throughout. You almost have to wonder if the creative forces behind “Battle: Los Angeles” were deliberately having fun with the genre. They pile on so many cliches–mostly of the war-movie ilk, but there are other genres represented as well–that halfway through the film, I started thinking, “Maybe this is supposed to be a parody and we’re supposed to be nodding our heads in recognition and chuckling at all this crapola.”

But I don’t think so. What with the pounding, “Terminator 2 meets Independence Day” soundtrack, and the square-jawed Aaron Eckhart doing his best “When We Were Soldiers” performance and the somber speechifying whenever somebody bites the dust or more aliens arrive, I’m pretty sure “Battle: Los Angeles” was supposed to be taken at face value as a war movie.

The box office was boffo, as they used to say, and some viewers have told me they know “Battle: Los Angeles” is stupid but they enjoyed the non-stop action and the video-game camerawork.

Fair enough. It’s your money.

But I’d be remiss if I didn’t list just some of the cliches that surface in “Battle: Los Angeles.” (SPOILER ALERT: IF YOU’RE PLANNING ON SEEING THE FILM AND YOU WANT TO BE SURPRISED OR AT LEAST ENTERTAINED BY ALL THE HACKNEYED PLOT POINTS, DON’T READ ANY FURTHER.)

If you’ve seen the film and you feel I’ve missed some of the cliches, please feel to contribute!

Let’s start the Cliche-o-Meter:

1. Eckhart plays a 20-year vet just days from retirement. And then…alien invasion! Guess retirement will have to wait.

2. Long after it’s clear Los Angeles is under attack, an officer tells his troops, “This is not a drill. Repeat: This is not a drill!” Well gee thanks General.

3. Who’s in charge? Why it’s none other than the book-smart lieutenant who’s 10 years younger than Eckhart–but has never seen any real combat. Uh-oh.

4. The night before the big battle, the band of brothers (and a sister or two) gather for a night of drinking. Is there a virgin in the group? Check. Will he throw up at just the wrong moment. Checkmate.

5. Rescue helicopter is filled to capacity with injured soldiers, so there’s no room for injured children. Pleeeeeeze let us aboard! Pleeeeeeze? Sorry, no can do. The helicopter takes off, leaving the children behind–and BOOM! five seconds later the aliens blow the helicopter out of the sky.

6. If you pick up a civilian along the way and he seems to be a liability, don’t worry–at some point he will have to pick up a complicated piece of weaponry, and he’ll be gifted with perfect sharpshooting abilities at just the right moment.

7. What’s that noise in the dark? Is it an alien? No, it’s only a friendly dog. Shew. Let’s pet the dog and chuckle in relief. And then five seconds later—BOOM! Gunfire.

8. Combat vet suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and now back in the thick of things? Check.

9. Even though the world is under attack and entire cities have been obliterated, CNN remains conveniently on the air, with reporters giving timely updates so the soldiers can see what’s happening around the globe.

10. The minute a soldier hands a colleague a letter to be delivered to his wife, you know that wife is never going to see her husband again.

11. If there’s a civilian woman hiding in a dark corner, oh yes, she will be a world-class beauty who looks great in jeans and has just the right amount of smudge and grime on her face, as if applied by a Hollywood makeup artist. Oh wait.

12. One member of the company lost a brother in battle in the Mideast. The commanding officer of his brother’s platoon is now…his commanding officer. Think they’re going to have a confrontation where the real truth is revealed?

13. Ooh, we’ve killed an alien! Excellent. But wait–it’s not really dead!

14. At one point Eckhart actually says to a little boy who’s lost his father, “You’re the bravest Marine I’ve ever know.” While a bunch of other Marines stand by and nod silently.

15. If your ragtag band of battle-weary but determined soldiers defeats the giant monster and starts celebrating, rest assured a MUCH BIGGER monster will quickly rise up, much to their dismay.

16. Eckhart: “I got my men killed. They’re dead. I’m here. Like the punch line to a bad joke.” Really?

17. Although the good guys triumph in the end–you expected the aliens to win–you better believe the last scene leaves plenty of room for a sequel. “Battle: Oakland” anyone?

3 Responses to “Battle: Los Angeles. Cliches: everywhere.”

  1. Vince Plourde Says:

    There is always ONE female soldier that is tougher then the men, and has plenty of opportunities to prove it.

  2. bfos Says:

    Hero is going to leave the group to head out on a suicide mission. “Wait. I’m coming with you.” “Us, too.”

    Fog obscures vision and also drowns out all noise of entire city being utterly destroyed by alien invaders.

    Aliens don’t have air support. Oh. Yeah. They do.

    Aliens are smart, but not smart enough to build AI piloted drones. They obviously must be remote controlled.

    The key to killing an alien is…shooting it in the chest.

  3. Clinton Says:

    Since you’ve invoked spoilers would it be wrong to call out the end where the tired ragged soldiers who’ve been fighting for days have the ability to rest and recuperate decide instead to rearm and join the other soldiers in battle.
    Then we have the one soldier horribly wounded who decides to commit suicide (suicide bomber) but with explosives so he can buy everyone else time to get away.
    And finally the young lieutenant who hands off a letter to his wife who of course has to die honorably also is soon to be a father. Young fathers who aren’t the main stars don’t last long in movies like these.

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