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Ryley Wilcox
Ryley Wilcox
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I found my passion for journalism during my sophomore year of college, writing articles here and there for the North Wind. Since joining the staff this past semester as the news writer, I have been able...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

Chaotic action shadows ‘Battle’ plot

This week, Hollywood dished out yet another big-budget alien flick, “Battle: Los Angeles.” It managed to top the box office this week, which is more than I can say for last year’s out-of-this-world flop, “Skyline,” also based in Los Angeles. I guess  aliens love Hollywood as much as Hollywood loves them.

The movie begins with a severe case of bad luck for Marine Staff Sgt. Michael Nantz (Eckhart). Just days after he officially retires from service, he is called back to aid in protecting Los Angeles in response to what the media believes is a pending meteor strike on the city. Nantz had an unfortunate past incident where some of his men were lost, and everyone but the viewer seems to know about it. The director apparently didn’t feel it was necessary to tell the audience what exactly happened.

One of the things that stood out during this movie (as opposed to other alien movies) was the way that it felt like a war film and not like a total cliché. The point of view is from that of the soldiers, and I had no more of an idea what was going on than they did when they were shipped off to Los Angeles. There is a scene where the soldiers are watching a news report of the so-called “meteors” landing off the coast, and then robotic beings appear from the clouds of smoke and start firing at innocent people on the beach, including the reporter delivering the story. Nantz and the other Marines in his platoon are then sent off to fight against a largely unknown enemy.

As the aliens begin their invasion of the city, the audience is informed slowly as to the truth of what’s actually happening. The action scenes are relentless, rarely letting up before something catastrophic occurs.

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However, the abundance of action doesn’t make up for the complete lack of character development. Any attempts made to give the viewer some depth to the people involved are brief, as if the screenwriter just threw them in there for flavor among the war-torn chaos that dominates the better part of the film. The typical rally speeches scattered throughout feel forced and, for the most part, are irrelevant to the overall plot.

When I heard the title of this movie, I immediately assumed it was either based on a video game, or would surely become one after the release of the movie (and sure enough, a game is in production right now). Once I saw the weak attempts at dialogue and character development, it felt even more like a video game. But the aliens took it to the next level, no pun intended. These things looked like the potential offspring of the characters from “I, Robot” and “Independence Day.”

The main difference between this movie and a video game is I can actually tell what’s going on when I see an action scene in a game. This movie fits with the Michael Bay theme of action scenes; if enough objects are exploding at once, it must make for an intense scene. If I can’t see what’s happening, I find it not to be intense, but a massive waste of time and money. I don’t know why so many people in Hollywood seem to think viewers enjoy being confused –– they don’t.

“Battle: Los Angeles” concludes in an open-ended way, as if there could possibly be a sequel to this cluttered mess. I personally hope this is a “one-and-done” situation for Hollywood. As far as extra-terrestrial movies go, this certainly isn’t the worst one I’ve seen. I wouldn’t say that it’s an awful movie but overall, I would save that hard-earned cash for something a little more promising. I hope the video game turns out better than the movie did.

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