Battle: Los Angeles and Video Games

Remember when Battle: Los Angeles opened about a week ago?  Me neither.  Mostly because it looks like every other sci-fi invasion movie ever made.  But to a fair number of film critics, the movie is actually more like a video game, or would rather be a video game.  Here’s a small sampling of the reviews:

Mostly, this is the cinematic equivalent of a first-person shooter game, one where the Marines possess only slightly more personality than the faceless invaders.

It’s like watching other people play a video game

Often, Battle: Los Angeles lapses into that peculiar modern-day rut that leaves an audience feeling as if they are watching a live feed of someone playing a photo-realistic computer game.

The X-Box game this film wants to be would be ten times more involving

This film feels so much like a videogame your hands keep reaching for controllers — shoot the aliens, shoot the aliens, shoot the aliens.

In the case of “Battle: Los Angeles,” sitting through it makes you feel like you are watching someone else playing a videogame while another person is operating a jackhammer approximately six inches away from your skull for two solid hours.

Then it becomes a high-priced, high-tech clone of a video game. The characters move a pixel at a time to this dead-end or that, and each solution presents another, greater challenge.

The plot of Battle Los Angeles is only a few dialogue scenes removed from the objective-based narratives of countless video games concerning warfare in modern times.  Go here, shooting bad guys along the way; now go there, shooting even more baddies en route.

Part sci-fi thriller, part computer game, and part Marine recruiting video.

It’s not a stretch to say that these critics were probably thinking about Call of Duty meets Halo when making these comments.  So even when the status of video games as art is in doubt, people who aren’t already invested in them are talking about gaming’s impact on other mediums, negative or otherwise.  Call of Duty isn’t the first example on my list of games that could be art, but the sheer scale of its success makes video games impossible to ignore at this point.  It would be great to see deeper discussions take place across mediums through reviews.


2 Responses to “Battle: Los Angeles and Video Games”

  1. March 20, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    I’m not a big video game fan, but I do see your point. I’m not anti-video games, I just haven’t fallen into that culture. Ebert’s debate has been going on for some time, and though I haven’t taken a definitive stance, I look at games like the Metal Gear Solid series and the Final Fantasy – type RPG’s and its hard to ague against it as an art form. But at the same time, gaming seems to be devolving into a first person shooter trap where the “art” consists of cooler weapons and more realistic killing (and just randomly throwing in zombies for good measure), which makes we look back at the other side of the debate and wonder if their grass is greener.

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