So yeah, this is basically the popcorn, big-action flick you’d expect it to be. No surprises but entertaining to watch. Let’s break it down…
The movie starts off in the heat of the action and then back tracks to add some start-stop-start again style to it. During the back tracking period the audience is introduced to the human element part of the storyline mostly through the eyes of a marine unit that includes Aaron Eckhart’s character. He’s an older marine on his way to retirement (no, he doesn’t say “I’m getting too old for this shit” luckily). He ends up getting assigned to a unit with a much younger commanding officer and the brother of a fallen marine from his previous unit. Underlying tension is established.
Aliens have invaded and they’re after our resources (natch), namely our water (underlying environmental message regarding the importance of our water now in place). The goal of Eckhart’s unit is to rescue some people pinned down in a police station before a major bombing. During their mission they manage to uncover a hidden alien command post that, if destroyed, would be a major component to saving the human race.
The good and the bad of it…
Too much jumpy cam! Geez. Even during a damn phone call in an office before the aliens invade! Suffice it to say that the quick cuts and the shakey cam are way overdone, to the point of distraction. Next, most of the characters are pretty generic and uninteresting. You don’t mind too much if you lose one here or there. I felt a bit sad when one of them goes down, but he was one of the few I felt sympathy towards dying, the rest I was kind of “meh”.
The effects mostly look pretty good. There are times that some quick cuts, blurry backgrounds and quick camera movements are used to cover bad effects. It’s done quite a bit and easy to spot, not good. And you don’t get enough wide shots on a fixed camera to really enjoy the action, it’s more quick cuts and jittery camera. I want to bring back more of a balance to action movies where you get the pacing but you also get to see the action.
The acting for the most part is decent but average. Aaron Eckhart plays the lead well and has a solid support cast next to him which includes Michelle Rodriquez kicking ass as always as her usual tough character. Noone stands out as exceptional but they all fill their molds well.
It’s your by-the-numbers big budget aliens blow up Los Angeles popcorn flick. If you liked films like Independence Day, you’ll dig this.
reviewed by Sean McKnight