At The Picture Show
Welcome to the Suck
Make room, everybody, make room - we officially have another big-budget hack in town, and his name is Jonathan Liebesman
Battle: Los Angeles
Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Screenplay: Christopher Bertolini
Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Ramon Rodriguez, Michelle Rodriguez, Michael Peña, Bridget
Moynahan, Ne-Yo, Cory Hardrict and Adetokumboh M'Cormack
Rated PG-13 / 1 hour, 56 minutes
Opened March 11, 2011
(out of four)
An open letter from Michael Bay to Jonathan Liebesman, re: the latter's latest film, Battle: Los
March 14, 2011
Mr. Liebesman . . . Er, Jonathan. Can I call you Jonathan? Good.
Listen, Jonathan - I just got out of Battle: Los Angeles, and I gotta tell ya, I freakin' loved it,
man. This is the kind of movie Michael Bay likes. And when Michael Bay likes something, you
know it's good.
I totally dig the whole visual incoherence thing you're going
for, man. I practically invented that! So I feel honored and vindicated. I mean, the haphazard
way you spliced your action scenes together so that they lost any sense of spatial orientation?
Totally righteous. It's always been my philosophy that you should assault the audience with as
many random images as you can, as fast as you can, and boy, you really took that to heart. Half
the time when I was watching your movie, I had no idea what the hell was going on - what a
And all that handheld camerawork? Man, it was like you were trying to do what Paul Greengrass
does, only without any sense of rhythm, timing or restraint! I have an epileptic friend who loved
it so much he's in the hospital now. Now that's what I call filmmaking!
You followed my editing philosophy so reverently - "The more arbitrary, the better," I always
say - it almost brought a tear to my eye. I probably would have cried if I wasn't such a man. A
man who never cries. A soldier, really. Read: Michael Bay is a soldier, just like the ones from his
Are you a soldier, too, Jonathan? I think you are. I mean, the
fact that Battle: Los Angeles plays like an extended recruiting video for the armed forces pretty
much proves that. Except it was all like, "WHOA, WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF THE
MARINES HAD TO FIGHT ALIEN ROBOTS?!" Man! I wish I'd thought of a movie where the
military has to fight off alien robots. I'm kinda jealous. I especially like how the whole alien
invasion thing ultimately ends up serving no purpose whatsoever. Screw the audience - they'll
never notice, right? Me, I'm all for stories that don't even try to justify their own conceits, so I
was totally into it.
Oh yeah, dude - I almost forgot! All those close-ups you use in this movie? RAD. Close-ups are
so INTENSE. It's like, I'm watching the movie trying to figure out what I'm actually looking at,
and all of a sudden you cut to a close-up - and it's like you're telling me, "This crap is
INTENSE, moviegoer. Pay. Attention. [Expletive deleted] is about to get real."
Anyway, Liebs - can I call you Liebs? - one other thing I loved about your movie. The best
movies are always the loudest movies, right? Everyone knows that. And dude, Battle: Los
Angeles was loud. It was like listening to a grand symphony, but taking out all those sucky
violins and replacing them with things that blow up. Man, I felt so jazzed up by all that noise!!
Boom! Boom! Crash! Smash! Boom! Man, I could go on for hours.
Ya know what else I loved? I mean, this really had me tickled.
It was how every single character in your movie was a shallow stock archetype without any
depth or nuance. Genius, bro. Genius. You're as relentlessly vacuous as I am! It's uncanny! The
aging hero on the verge of retirement? Genius. The young hero with a pregnant wife? Genius.
The dude who's about to get married before being called off to battle? Genius. The doe-eyed
rookie? The guy mourning the death of a loved one? The mentally and emotionally scarred guy
looking for redemption? Ge-ni-us.
The one thing that sucked about your characters was how none of them had hilarious sidekicks
that could crack everyone up the whole time. That would have made your movie way better.
Actually, though, that reminds me - there was one other thing I didn't like so much about your
movie. I've always said that the bread and butter of every movie is its explosions. And don't get
me wrong, friend - you definitely captured the essence of what it's like to have something blown
to pieces. The problem is, there weren't enough explosions. You should be averaging one
explosion every 9 minutes. If you'd read my manual on how to direct movies, you'd know that
already. I'm kind of an expert.
Oh yeah, you know what? There was another thing that kind of sucked about your movie. Dude:
WHERE'S THE T&A? I was like waiting the whole movie to see some hot babes crawling
around for my enjoyment, but nada! I know it's war and all, but that doesn't mean you can't
randomly have some strippers give the soldiers lap dances or something. Come on!
You should have had a scene where, like, the aliens go to the
beach to check out the local "talent" - rofl, I call hot chicks "talent" because I'm Michael Bay
and that's how I roll. Or you should have had one of the alien robots turn into a hot chick, and
totally try to do it with the staff sergeant. Or maybe you could have even made the aliens look
like babes instead of robots - hot babes from outer space!
Or maybe the staff sergeant could have been a chick . . . yeah, like a hot chick! With huge
knockers! But with glasses, too, to show she's all business!! And she could, like, be in charge of
all the other soldiers and they all want to do her, but she's such a tease . . . aw, yeah. Have you
ever even seen Top Gun? Top Gun is pretty much the greatest movie ever made. I even have it
on DVD. Your movie should have been more like that.
Actually, you know what? Now that I think about it, Battle: Los Angeles kind of sucked. It
sucked because Michael Bay could have done it so much better - because making loud movies
that don't make any sense is what Michael Bay is all about. And since I'm Michael Bay, I know
exactly what I'm talking about. Sorry, Liebs, you're still new at this - one day, your movies will
not only be incoherent, vapid and brainless like this one, but they'll have a lot more boobs and
explosions, too. Take my word for it.
Continued Below Advertisement
Read more by Chris Bellamy