Battle: Los Angeles (Jonathan Liebesman, 2011)
A few delayed responses to Battle: Los Angeles:
- Friday, March 11th, 2011: two disasters arrive simultaneously on American screens, one real (on the small screens of televisions and computers), one imagined (on the big screens of multiplex movie theaters), and, as always, the real one is conformed to a fictional narrative (specifically, the narrative of disaster movies, complete with nuclear powerplant cliffhanger) while the fictional one seeks—bluntly, shoddily, thuddingly—to give itself an iota of credibility by stealing from reality.
- Battle: Los Angeles is a bad film, and, as bad films tend to do, it not only reveals its flaws but the flaws of the audience it was made for.
- Serge Daney once said that only imperialist countries made disaster films—or, really, what he said was “it's only imperialist countries that can afford disaster films,” but ultimately one does what one can afford. Even more accurately, there are two factors: 1) only imperialist countries have the resources to make disaster films, and 2) only imperialist countries have audiences that want to see disaster films.
- The proliferation of alien invasion / disaster films in the US since the 1990s—of "national survival" narratives, masochistic wish-fulfillments for audiences that want to be told that they, as a society, will do the right thing when the time comes—has a fascinating contrast in the fact that the greatest disaster to befall the modern United States, Hurricane Katrina, was more of a moral and social failure than a natural calamity.
- "Invasion literature" dominated British popular culture from about the 1870s to World War I and, like many American disaster and invasion films, it was often produced with the help of military advisors. Sometimes the writers were military men themselves: George Tomkyns Chesney was a lieutenant colonel at the time he wrote The Battle of Dorking and was eventually promoted to general towards the end of his life.
- Saying that Battle: Los Angeles is an advertisement for the Marines (and it is in a certain way) or that it resembles a recruitment ad (which it does) overlooks the fact that it serves as an advertisement for numerous other products as well: Vaio computers, Pepsi Max (whose billboard stands proudly amongst the ruins of Los Angeles), even Yellowtail wine.