Last night I watched (on DVD) Battle: Los Angeles. It’s one of several “alien apocalypse” movies that has come out in the last few years, and I’m into various types of apocalypses (apocalypsi?), so I watched it. Apocalyptic, dark flicks seem to emanate from Hollywood when social and cultural shifts and upheaval are plaguing America. Bad economic times contribute to that, so in a movie like this, with a clearly defined enemy, watchers can get a cathartic release of triumphing, when outside the theater, not so much.
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After a slow start (30 mins. of being introduced to the Marines who are ostensibly going to save LA), the aliens arrive as meteors off the coasts of several major cities and pretty much kick butt and take names. Our small band of Marines is sent into LA (mostly evacuated, since the meteors took over a day to manifest and then crash into the ocean) to rescue civilians from a police station and then they have to get out and back to the Forward Operating Base before the Air Force starts bombing the crap out of LA. The military is under the mistaken impression that the alien forces do not have air power.
Never assume anything when faced with an alien apocalypse. Hell, YES they have air power, and they wipe out several air bases. Our band of Marines thus has to figure out how to get the surviving civilians from the police station to one of the last standing bases near LA. In so doing, the combat-experienced staff sergeant Nance and the Air Force recon woman Santos (played by a super awesome Michelle Rodriguez) are able to figure out where the command center for the alien forces is located and call in an air strike (with help from their band of Marines). The alien air power is based on drones–none are manned aircraft–and the alien foot soldiers, too, are beholden to that command center.
But it was pretty much almost 2 hours of watching humans get their asses handed to them because of the overwhelming firepower of the alien forces.
This was a decent action flick, with some great camera work and excellent special effects. I think the editors could have gotten rid of at least 30 minutes of dinking around at the beginning, but once you got past that, you’re right there with the band of Marines trying to figure out WTF to do against a superior force. They manage to injure one of the foot soldiers and Nance and his fellow Marines drag it into the police station and try to figure out how to kill it. Nance does–a direct hit to its thoracic region (they’re bipedal) to the right of where a heart would be seems to do the trick. They also figure out that the airborne drones (and foot soldiers) track human prey via radio signals, so using that, Nance is able to lure an airborne drone away from the civilians and his Marines, set a bomb, and blow the drone up.
That, I thought, is the crux of an alien invasion. When faced with superior fire power, it’s best to consolidate into small, mobile groups and figure out how to kill the invaders and how to take out their technology. You can see that premise in TNT’s Falling Skies (finally) and it’s also a recommendation of the History Channel’s “what if” show on an alien invasion, When Aliens Attack, has some great tips on what to do if that happens, and notes that a small guerrilla force can so harry a larger force that it makes it no longer worthwhile for a larger force to remain. It may take a while, but the object of that game is to become such a nuisance that the larger force gets tired of spending time and money (and lives) on the mission, and they withdraw. It’s happened historically, why not in terms of this?
At any rate, that program recommends that you study the enemy, figure out its patterns, its possible weaknesses, and use those against it. Sort of the philosophy, still, of 5th century Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu, who is the attributed writer of The Art of War, an influential book that resonates today. Sun Tzu noted that battles could be won by using the enemy’s strength and arrogance against him, and also by using deceptive tactics, thus keeping the enemy off-guard. Thus, it is possible for much smaller forces to harass a larger enemy into withdrawing, but it’s important to “know the enemy” and to know yourself so that you can use the enemy against itself.
That’s one of the premises of Battle: Los Angeles. The band of Marines had to figure out how to avoid the enemy, how to kill it, and where its command center was. In the end, a force of ten (with help from a remaining missile base) took out the forces invading LA. Probable? Maybe. Possible? Maybe. Point being, be flexible, travel light, and study the enemy. And it’s possible to use low-tech against it, as Nance demonstrated when he baited a trap to blow up a drone with a military portable radio.
So have a look, watch the National Geographic Channel’s “When Aliens Attack,” and hopefully, you’ll have some ideas about what to do should that sort of apocalypse occur. Oh, and according to Battle: Los Angeles, the invasion begins August 12, 2011. So you might want to watch these programs ASAP. 8)
Happy watching and happy surviving!