Roger Ebert hated this movie. After his declaration that video games cannot be art, however, I determined that his opinion might be suspect with regards to anything less than two centuries old. In that mind-set I ventured forth, hopeful that this movie might show me a good time.
My time was not unreservedly good, however. The filmmakers resorted to shaky-cam in order to make us feel like things are chaotic, and I would like to go on record as saying very definitively that THIS IS LAZY STORYTELLING. You can show us chaos without making it impossible for us to tell what's on screen. You can show us the terror of "fog of war" without leaving us sitting in our seats wondering which character just got blown up.
Sometimes I wonder if the director doesn't say "and at this point we want everybody nervous, frazzled, and confused, so shake the camera again." Do these people actually WATCH the movies they make? Grrr...
Shaky cam is the main problem with the film. Everything else hangs together pretty well, provided you're willing to assume that the one human scientist being quoted on the news is wrong. We can argue that point in the comments thread, though.
I loved the characters in this film. There were a lot of them, probably too many to track (especially since they're all wearing essentially identical clothing and are standing in front of a camera operated by a caffeine junky strapped to a jack-hammer) but I really cared about them by the end of the movie. We get stand-up-and-cheer moments, and you can't pull that off with cardboard cut-outs.
Back to Ebert for a moment: his review is very entertaining to read, more so because you know that no matter how dead wrong he may be on certain points, it's irrelevant. Enjoying his review is a guiltless pleasure when contrasted with (for instance) reading political commentary where the dead wrongness might actually have actual dead deadness as a consequence.
(Note: I'm not going to make a practice of reviewing movie reviews. I just thought the contrast in this case was telling.)
Speaking of reviewing things that are only tangentially related to the movie, University Mall Cinemas in Orem has introduced pizza at the concession stand. I spent $6.00 on a personal-sized pepperoni pizza, and was amazed at how tasty it was. It came out of an oven, went into a box, and into my hand all in the space of about two minutes. And then I ate it. I could tell, easily, where the pizza ended and the cardboard began. There was never any question. I must admit, I was sad when it was all gone. It left me wanting more.
I know, I know... movie concessions are incredibly overpriced, and anybody who shows up at the theater hungry is bound to go home disappointed. But theater owners don't make very much money on the actual movies they show. It's not far off to describe a feature film as a loss-leader for the sales of concessions. And so, since I like going out to see movies, I pony up the extra $5 to $10 to keep the local cinema operator in business.
Battle: Los Angeles is not a fantastic film, but I had a good time. As of this writing it's my #2 for the year behind Rango.