Action, 116 Minutes, 2011
I actually really liked this. Sure, it was clichéd but it was clichéd in all the right places. Aliens attack and soldiers fight them. We know this because no movie is allowed to start without a flash-forward (apparently there’s a law).
(Really… what is it with this? Exciting scene then “one day earlier” or “three days earlier” or “17 hours before” or “Alien contact minus 24 hours”. We know there’s going to be exciting scenes in the movies – we saw the commercials. Movies got along very well without opening flash-forwards for decades. It’s getting ridiculous people.)
This is basically a decent, popcorn war flick. Yes, there’s the aliens and silly-ending of most sci-fi flicks but it’s all told as a rather classical WWII movie. None of the characters are very memorable but it doesn’t matter as you’ve seen nearly all them before. Our hero is a decorated veteran with a checkered past only a day from retirement. There’s an untested new lieutenant avid for the field. The naive new recruit taken under the wing of the unit. The brothers-from-different mothers. The guy working to be better than he is. Oh – and Michelle Rodriguez being Michelle Rodriguez.
The movie works a little too hard as an advertisement for the Marines in places but in the context it doesn’t detract too much. The movie is from the soldiers point of view and maintains it: it doesn’t let itself get bogged down in the details. There’s no frills here: no tortured inclusion of a romance, no twists or surprise endings. It’s exactly what it promises on the box and that’s more than good enough for me.