In spite of it not being PC in some crowds, kids like to play war. They always have.
In the 1940s, 50s and 60s, when it was safer for them to play outside, they played war with toy rifles, sticks, logs or whatever tools their imagination could turn into a weapon. Empty fields were rife with forts and fox holes.
Today’s children play war in Xboxes and other, bloody graphic enhanced games.
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An equal fascination for kids since the 1940s is space invasion. Movies on monsters from Mars and other alien civilizations have always been a hot box-office magnet for kids.
These days many video games combine the two. Instead of waging war against other human beings, it is fought against savage creatures invading the Earth or on some other planet.
They’re graphic and bloody and — I suppose — entertaining.
A few kids who played war and space invasion grew up to become filmmakers. Some are pretty good like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. Even Roland Emmerich — Independence Day — can do decent sci-fi.
Jonathan Liebesman, whose resume consists of a couple of low-rent horror flicks, is a “can’t.” At least so far. Liebesman has stepped into the big time. Battle: Los Angeles combines the “fun” of war with an invasion of the planet by creatures that want our water.
Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez, Bridget Moynahan and Michael Pena are the only recognizable stars. Eckhart has the lead as a staff sergeant who once lost men in combat and has doubts. He’s assigned to assist a lieutenant charged with going into enemy territory and retrieving trapped civilians.
For about 30-minutes, Liebesman and writer Christopher Bertolini’s ( The General’s Daughter) movie works and is very intense. Then it becomes a high-priced, high-tech clone of a video game. The characters move a pixel at a time to this dead-end or that, and each solution presents another, greater challenge.
It quickly amps up to 10 on an intensity scale and stays there. The one-note combat scenes — though graphically brilliant — are endless, relentless and confusing. You see a shot of the soldiers, a quick edit, gun fire or an explosion, even faster edit, bing, bam, boom, on it goes for what seems like three hours.
Battle: Los Angeles is just under two.
The film comes off like kids playing war and space invasion. Video game aficionados will be completely at home. They ought to bring their game controllers with them. It’ll add to the fun.
The rest of you will be bored.
Mr. Movie rating: 2 stars
Rated PG-13 for violence and mature themes. It opens Friday, March 11 at the Carmike 12 and the Fairchild Cinemas 12.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.