"Stay away! The movie sucks! STAY AWAY!!!"
Shock and awe
"What's the title of this movie?" "Battlefield: Los Angeles." "What's it about?" "Don't know. I think about Los Angeles."
"Those meteorites?" "Yes." "There aliens in them?" "Yep." "I've seen this before--War of the Worlds. Isn't that plagiarism?" "That's for books--this is a movie."
"That a Marine unit? Looks like they're on maneuvers." "No, they're evacuating civilians." "Look, rubble and dead bodies. Thought this was Los Angeles--looks more like Afghanistan." "I think that's what it's meant to look like." "Why?" "Don't know--trying to make the movie relevant?" "Why don't they do the movie in Afghanistan?" "Because people wouldn't care if it's Afghanistan, but would care if it's Los Angeles." "But there's no war in Los Angeles." "It's a movie, not a documentary."
"Then why does it look like a documentary?" "Hm?" "Camera's shaking all the time, like in a documentary." "It's meant to look like a documentary." "I thought it wasn't a documentary." "It isn't, just meant to look like one." "Well, why make it look like one when it isn't one?" "I don't know. To make it more real?"
"But it isn't real." "They're only trying to make it look real." "Do they want to make it real or don't they?" "They don't want to make it real, only make it look real." "I'm confused." "I'm trying to watch--quiet, will you?"
"You sure those are aliens?" "Huh?" "Well...the Marines wear camouflage armor, the aliens wear camouflage--whatever. The Marines carry automatic weapons, the aliens carry automatic weapons. The Marines depend on air cover, the aliens depend on air cover. Seems to me the Marines are just fighting alien versions of themselves, only dripping Vaseline and wearing elevator shoes." "What do you expect from an alien--two hearts and a big mouth, riding a phone booth?" "They could at least use alien tech." "Well, if they use tech that's too alien, then game over--the Marines lose. We can't have that." "Why not? Wouldn't that be more, well, plausible? If the aliens have tech alien enough to cross deep space they probably have tech alien enough to conquer Earth." "This is a movie--it doesn't have to be plausible."
"Why's that soldier upset?" "He's accused of letting that other soldier's brother die." "Did he?" "What?" "Let the soldier's brother die?" "Don't know--they're just talking about it." "Don't they have more important things to do than talk--like getting out of there?" "Don't know, didn't write the dialogue." "First time they stop to really talk about anything, and it's about something that happened a long time ago?" "Hush, trying to listen." "What for? The conversation we're having is probably funnier. And I'm not even trying to be funny." "Shut up." "Bet they made up that stuff about killing the soldier's brother. Just so they can stop to talk about something." "Shut up!"
"Wait a minute--are these the same Marines?" "Yeah. Why?" "Didn't they blow up a drone with a grenade and a gas station earlier?" "They did." "Didn't they fight on a freeway, and blow up a bus?" "Yep." "Weren't they supposed to bug out with the civilians?" "Yep." "So why are they trying to blow up the command center? Haven't they done enough?" "Well, they found the command center, I suppose they didn't want to waste time attacking it." "They should be leaving that to some other team." "Well, they're not." "Why not? What I hear about Marines, they're all about teamwork, not--what did the lieutenant call it?--the 'John Wayne stuff.'" "It's the movies--Marines in movies are all about John Wayne."
"I remember watching some of John Wayne's movies--he wasn't always about attacking alone either, at least not in the good ones. He believed in teamwork too." "Maybe the moviemakers were only copying what they thought John Wayne did." "I don't think they've seen a lot of John Wayne movies." "Shush!"
"Is that it? Movie's over?" "Yep."
"Can I talk about the ending now?" "I guess." "That's a dumb ending." "Why?" "One missile--boom! All the big alien tech gone. Is it that easy to stop an alien invasion?" "Don't know, never tried." "It's like Star Wars--'Oh, we've built this Death Star, it can blow up planets, has impenetrable force fields, and can launch thousands of ships and all, but we've left a tiny butthole open for you to ram in a a nice long photon torpedo in and blow the whole thing up.'" "Proton torpedo." "Whatever."
"Some dumb endings aren't too bad--in Independence Day they downloaded a virus from an Apple to an alien computer. I didn't even know Apple was compatible with alien computers." "it isn't." "Didn't think so."
"Independence Day was at least funny. And sometimes fun. Didn't like it much, but compared to this movie it's a trip to Disneyland." "Uh huh." "And I don't like Disneyland." "Uh huh."
"Remember District 9?' Didn't like that either, but at least it had a few interesting ideas--like comparing real aliens to illegal aliens. That was funny, and true, too." "Uh huh."
"As alien invasions go, this one's pretty lame. Not as whacked or original as The Adventures of Bukaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. And the heroes--can't tell them apart, except one guy looked like a psycho--" "Aaron Eckhart." "--and one was a woman. None of them were anything like the Doctor."
"Now, the Doctor, he cool. He's dealt with dozens of alien invasions." "Uh huh." "He'd step out of his TARDIS, pull out his sonic screwdriver, make everything all right." "Hm." "Wouldn't even fire a shot--he makes it a point not to use guns and violence." "Uh huh." "And he's very funny." "Yep."
"The classic alien invasions are best--War of the Worlds, Last and First Men." "Hm." "Don't mean movies, either--they've been telling alien invasion stories since at least 1898. After over a hundred years worth of practice, you'd think people might at least get it right." "Uh huh."
"Next time, I get to pick the movie, all right? Something mature and sophisticated, like Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules.'" "Sure." "Need something to give my mind a real exercise." "Anything you say."
Firs published in Businessworld, 3.17.11