Battle: Los Angeles (**1/2), and Other Movies With Great Previews That Ended Up Sucking


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BATTLE: LOS ANGELES.  109 mins.  PG-13.  Directed by Jonathan Liebesman.  Written by Christopher Bertolini.

If the title of this sci-fi, heavy-artillery war movie sounds like a video game, that's because it mostly plays like one.  And even that comparison does a disservice to the best video games, which easily eclipse Battle: Los Angeles in wit, style, and creativity.  With cardboard characters that are each given the faintest whiff of backstory, and a script that spends about 5 minutes on set-up and the rest on shooting the holy hell out of everything on screen, Battle: Los Angeles is a strenuous endurance test for the more high-minded of moviegoers.  They should have just called it "Gunfire."  Though the previews hinted at something more original and fascinating (more on that in a few), thanks largely to the use of that hypnotic Johann Johannsson song, what you ultimately get is an efficient yet totally sterile war movie, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

As a third-rate knock-off of movies like Black Hawk Down, Battle: Los Angeles gets the job done for those who like war movies that are about nothing else other than war.  But as a science fiction film, this is a complete failure.  The aliens are as horribly designed here as they were in last year's Skyline, and the filmmakers spend almost no time developing them or setting up some kind of mythology for their arrival.  And why would they?  That would just detract from all the gunfire!  The producer on this movie - and this is key - is Neal H. Moritz, the same guy behind such lamebrain flicks as XXX and Fast and Furious.  That should tip you off to the movie's quality level.  Another tip?  Within five minutes, as the camera ascends over the valley and into downtown L.A., Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg's "California Love" starts playing.  Yikes.  Director Jonathan Liebesman clearly had a lot of money at his disposal, and though he overuses shaky cam and doesn't quite know how he should be using it at times, he manages to make the movie somewhat watchable despite all of its problems.  Aaron Eckhart is the lone actor of the bunch to make a positive impression.  Even Michelle Rodriguez, who seems contractually obligated to appear in every other action film as the requisite "tough chick" is wasted here. 
I walked out of Battle: Los Angeles deeply disappointed.  For months though, Julie had been telling me that the movie would suck.  I didn't listen.  I was excited to see it, thinking it would be something special.  I think I even labeled it the second coming of District 9 at one point.  I was too distracted by the marketing wizards over at Sony, who somehow (yet again!) managed to pull the wool over my eyes.  This got me thinking.  What other movies have had great previews that got you excited to see them, and then when you finally did see them, they sucked?  Here are a few:

What are some other movies with great trailers that sucked?

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  • Vindication!

  • Remember that brilliant Classical Gas montage they used to sell The Story of Us? I want to condense my own home movies into a similar 45-second blast of emotion and nostalgia. Too bad they ripped it straight out of the movie. Oh, and too bad the movie was lousy.

  • In reply to ceathair:

    YES! That, to me, was the ultimate in trailer fraud.

  • In reply to ceathair:

    Good call - that should definitely be included in the list above. The best part is that awesome trailer - not even a trailer! I think that 3-minute sequence was lifted directly from a montage in the movie. Rob Reiner - FAIL!

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