Do I go through this review trying not to mention Skyline? Whoops, too late. Oh well, it’s not the first time that two big movies have been released so close to each other with the same themes. It is the first time I can recall both options being so poor though.
Things start amid some action and then move back in time to before the action started. Just like Skyline. There’s an alien invasion. Just like Skyline. And the effects take precedence over anything like characterisation, decent scripting, etc. Just. Like. Skyline.
Aaron Eckhart has just had his resignation from the military approved and it’s his last day so he’s not going to be best pleased then as he ends up going into action against the invading force. The other military men who will be involved in proceedings include the leader who has resigned, the guy planning his wedding, someone kissing his pregnant wife goodbye and the young ‘un who was allowed in after his momma signed the permission slip. They all need the namebadge “Dead Meat”. There’s the guy who plays Hoyt from True Blood (Jim Parrack playing someone I simply kept referring to as Private Hoyt) and Michelle Rodriguez puts in an appearance as, I’ll give you one guess, a tough woman who is handy with a weapon. I guess she wanted to stretch herself this time.
There is nothing more to the film than that: a bunch of army folk going against tough aliens. For nearly two hours. If you played any Call Of Duty game while half-watching Independence Day then you would have recreated the full experience of this movie.
Director Jonathan Liebesman hasn’t done too much wrong in his career (though how Darkness Falls gained it’s small but loyal fanbase will always be beyond me) but mishandles everything here. It’s not really his fault though. Christopher Bertolini clearly wrote a script that had numerous cheesy lines written down spaced between the words “insert major FX work here”. Because, much like Skyline, that’s all this is. An FX showcase with the actors reduced to little more than paper-thin game characters in some flashy, derivative shoot ‘em up.
Eckhart aside, nobody makes any impression (well, except Bridget Moynahan who has the advantage of being just about the only woman onscreen not in army uniform and Michelle Rodriguez, the woman IN army uniform).
I guess I can see what the intentions were with this film but to make things so full of jittery-cam and then ladle on more cheese than any gung-ho wooha America flick is unforgiveable.
I actually spent most of the movie wanting the aliens to win, surely that’s not a good sign. It drags itself up to an average score simply because the FX throughout ARE pretty damn good and some of the action sequences work well when you can spot characters that you’re supposed to be giving a damn about.
DIRECTOR: JONATHAN LIEBESMAN
STARS: AARON ECKHART, RAMON RODRIGUEZ, CORY HARDRICT, MICHELLE RODRIGUEZ, BRIDGET MOYNAHAN, JIM PARRACK
RUNTIME: 116 MINS APPROX