Battle: Los Angeles – Aliens have come to invade our planet, and of all the cities in the world, we totally can’t lose LA!!! Hang on a second, I think I’ve seen something like this recently… There’s one simple thing would have made this better – a tripod. You spend around 80% of the time having no idea of what was going on other than ‘shit is being blown up’ and ‘it’s been filmed on shaky cam’. It’s more of a war film than any other invasion movie, made apparent by the film being propped up with the aid of every single war cliche you can think of. The music was a big miss, with ultra generic music – particularly the bursting-with-pride-and-sentiment soliloquies. Speaking of which, these solders are so amazing that it feels a bit like it could have been funded by Marines, and aimed at Marines. Just when you think it couldn’t get any more like a film you’ve seen before WHAM – Michelle Rodriguez pops up as a female soldier. For all the wrongs in Battle LA, you do have to see this in a cinema, but only because it’s so big, flashy and loud. The bottom line here is that Battle LA is Skyline, but with a bigger budget and MARINES instead of civilians.
Machete: A betrayed Federale butchers his way through a corrupt syndicate to avenge the death of his wife and child. The full 105 minutes of Machete are just absolutely absurd, from the first fully naked chick pulling out her mobile to intestine misuse and seeing Seagal attempt a latino accent… The grindhouse / shock element is pretty cranked to parody / laughable; although the film relies more on CGI than the inventiveness and real gore that genuine b-movies usually would. In saying that, the action is sweet, bloody and OTT fun – although the editing makes it all seem a bit haphazard. A lot of the story rooted in both sides of a real immigration issue – albeit exaggerated. Action hall-of-famer Danny Trejo finally gets his shot at playing a lead, although the Machete character could be any of his memorable previous roles. Everyone else is effective but pretty forgettable, except for De Niro, whose career just seems to be irretrievable. For the gents in the cast the film’s about 10-20 years too late – there’s nothing really exciting about seeing a fat Seagal and out-of-shape Trejo trying to duel. The deliberately old and retro look and feel to the film works quite well, and Rodriguez is clearly a B-movie/exploitation fan, but with all the CGI – and big names – it does lose the certain appeal of real B-movies. For what it is, and what it’s supposed to be, Machete totally hits the mark. Tongue-in-cheek Mexploitation. Fun, entertaining, over-the-top schlock.
Avatar 3D: marketed as the biggest and best sci-fi adventure of all time – bold claim. From the start it’s totally otherworldly; with the characters, animals, landscapes, textures and backgrounds all meticulously designed. For some reason the planet reminded me of Finding Nemo! The 3D wasn’t flawless as only one object in a frame would show real depth and the rest of the scene appeared out of focus or flat – it’s quite an exercise for the eyes. The sound was uncomfortably loud in parts too, so not an easy film for the senses!! Story-wise it wasn’t the best, or most original, and it took some super-ridiculous & corny twists. The characters are all “stock” clearly falling into the ‘good’ or ‘bad’ camps, and dialogue / acting is generally flat. Cameron’s tried to make it quite humane with the ‘aliens’ clearly echoing our 3rd world; while ‘undertones’ push simple arguments against war on terror and eco-issues. Beyond the impressive looks and epic action scenes all other elements of the film are distinctly average. It’s a great experience, but a victim of its own hype. Don’t expect perfection.