By Laurie Jago
I’m not going to lie, after seeing a very good trailer campaign I was excited about seeing this film. I know I should have known better that an alien invasion movie was going to be far from satisfying but I can’t believe how off the mark I really was.
The film starts off introducing a variety of marine characters getting ready to return to Afghanistan. We join Sgt. Michael Nantz (Aaron Eckhart) who is clearly passed his prime and fails to keep up with the younger marines while running on the beach. On TVs and radios in the background there is news of strange meteorites crashing down on earth near coastal cities. As the marines prepare we get to see some of their shallow personalities and minor back stories.
The film proceeds to kick off with a slightly disappointing scene in which LA is struck by the meteorites (quotation fingers). However, the film up until this point does manage to build the tension, and as little revelations are made about the ever approaching alien force you begin to get excited about the idea of the conflict with these hostile invaders. This hope is soon crushed when the marines do end up in the conflict. They are given the mission to retrieve civilians from a police station in the warzone before an imminent bombing in three hours time, the conflict that ensues rapidly begins to lose excitement. The continuous street battles soon become tedious as each set piece, the aliens seem to have a new bit of weaponry that they haven’t used before and it’s up to our cliché’ marine characters to find a way to deal with the problem. This continues until the fighting climaxes with an all or nothing battle with one of the command ships. Finally they reach the safety of a military base and are offered a rest and breakfast, but Eckhart ain't hungry as he replies, ‘I’ve already had breakfast.’ Yes he really does say this and the team return to combat.
I’m not going to mince my words. This film is torrid, and it features probably the most pathetic hostile aliens in the history of Sci-fi. I don’t mean visually (although they do look fairly lame), I mean as adversaries. From starting off as fast, agile unstoppable creatures they then proceed to mince around the devastated streets of Los Angeles for most of the film easily getting killed by anyone who happens pick up a gun. They have obviously mastered interstellar space travel and come with a plan to destroy mankind and colonise Earth (they need liquid water for fuel), but instead of using their powerful artillery to decimate resistance, they decide to take LA house by house fighting with alien machine guns for no real tactical reason.
There are no original ideas here, for the aliens themselves and their equipment the designers have raided practically every Sci-fi film for the last twenty years; the results being a poor hybrid of Independence Day, Aliens, Predator, War of the World and The Matrix. The film also stars Michelle Rodriguez (Avatar, Resident Evil, The Fast and the Furious) who is rapidly becoming the ‘GI Jane’ of action movies, type cast into the ‘Vasquez’ (Aliens) role she plays in every movie.
‘Suspension of disbelief’ goes out the window here and the plot (retrieving civilians from behind enemy lines and accidentally discovering a method of destroying the aliens) is both ponderous and unbelievable. Guess what? Aaron Eckhart’s character is getting on a bit and is about to retire.... and he also needs to redeem himself with the men for a command decision he made in Iraq. This sub plot yawns itself throughout the film and culminates with Eckhart reciting a list of names (men under his command) that seems to go on for about five minutes. I did not care for any of the characters and at times I wanted them to all die so that the film would end and I could go to bed.
Most of the film is shot in a shaky camera style. This drove me mad. I could not concentrate on anything and it left me feeling that I was suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder and in urgent need of some Ritalin. I'm gonna give this yawn fest a 2 stars out of 5.