‘Battle: Los Angeles’ Review

Published 4 years ago by , Updated October 5th, 2011 at 5:26 pm,

battle los angeles review Battle: Los Angeles Review
Screen Rant’s Vic Holtreman reviews Battle: Los Angeles

Battle: Los Angeles (or if you’re into the “texting” version, Battle: LA)  was #4 on our 2011 Most Anticipated Movies list – and as we’ve made clear before, just because we have a lot of anticipation for a movie doesn’t mean we know it’s going to be great.

Well Battle: LA isn’t great – but for a March action movie I’d call it at least good.

This film brings us yet another alien invasion story, with aspects we’ve seen before in movies in this genre – and others as well. Reminiscent of Independence Day, the story revolves around just a couple of days of events – the day leading up to the invasion and the day of. We’re introduced to the marines who we will spend time with throughout most of the film one by one in a well meaning but clunky attempt at audience “insta-bond.” As the film goes on you sort of get attached to a couple of them, but with most, not.

We’re soon introduced to Staff Sgt. Nantz (Aaron Eckhart), a career marine who’s getting up there in years but is still a guy who is in the field instead of behind a desk. He’s on his way out when what seems to be a meteor shower hits the Earth, but ends up being (of course) an alien invasion. Things ramp up quickly and the military is called into action to evacuate the coastal area of Los Angeles, as the new arrivals waste no time proving that they do NOT come in peace. Our team of marines is tasked with evacuating any civilians that may still be located in Santa Monica, which will be bombed all the way to the coast in an effort to decimate the alien ground forces. Once they get into the area, the trick is getting out alive.

If that sounds faintly reminiscent of Black Hawk Down, rest assured that is not the only similarity. Battle: Los Angeles is shot in an unvarnished way – the intent being to make it seem like we’re on the ground with these forces and it’s played completely serious – you won’t find any of the sort of humor that was in Independence Day despite the similarities to that film. This is presented as a realistic war film, albeit where the enemies lend an unreal quality.

Along with Black Hawk Down, there are scenes reminiscent of District 9, Aliens and I’m sure you could pick out a few other films as well. And I’m here to tell you, if you HATE shaky cam – this is NOT the film for you. It is used to excess here right from the start. A very basic scene that took place in an office with Nantz talking to another officer had so much camera movement that I thought maybe the cameraman had some sort of muscular control problem. Compounding this is the constant use of EXTREME facial close-ups, which made me wish I had sat a few rows further back.

battle la invasion Battle: Los Angeles Review

Where the film excels is during the battle sequences that are quite intense and really put you in the thick of things. Where it does not, is when it tries to convey the (seemingly obligatory) little personal moments between characters. It’s very clumsy and oh so clichéd almost every time – except for one scene in the third act where I would say the skills of Eckhart carry the simple but effective dialog and a scene between him and another marine actually packs an emotional punch.

While there are some weak performances, Aaron Eckhart does an admirable job as does Michelle Rodriguez for the short amount of time she has on the screen. A couple of the supporting characters drew me in as well, despite not having much time to do so with so many actors vying for camera time.

Another thing that I found quite gratifying (and I may get arguments on this, although I don’t know why) is the portrayal of the U.S. military in particular and America in general. It harkens back to old war movies – you know, the ones where the soldiers were actually portrayed as heroes instead of villains or mentally damaged people. There were a couple of battle scenes were I’m not embarrassed to say that I felt a rush of pride at seeing the actions of the characters on the screen in battle and in the protection of civilians.

Director Jonathan Liebesman didn’t have the best script to work with here (by Christopher Bertolini) – clunky dialog and not really what you would call a complex story, not even by a long shot. But given some decent material to work with, I look forward to seeing what he does in the future (he’s directing the Clash of the Titans sequel). As far as this film goes, I do recommend seeing it on the big screen because in addition to the battle scenes, it has some pretty impressive sound design that is worth experiencing in a theater.

I’m thinking that while the film is not the greatest thing ever, suffers from uber-shaky cam, runs too long and is getting a drubbing by critics, that audiences will enjoy the “feel good” portrayal of the military and maybe find some catharsis in seeing them battle easily identifiable, no-grey-area villains.

Here’s a trailer for Battle: Los Angeles:


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Our Rating:

3 out of 5

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  1. Whatever you say ken j,,,


  2. “Oh come on, that’s not spelling, that’s grammar.”
    Btw, this is the logic you’ll get when trying to have a conversation with Ken J,,, the spinster,,,

    First he corrects my spelling when he has nothing to provide as far as facts,,,
    “There their they’reyour you’rewe’re were wear wherehear herejessie jesse”
    Then he tells me that’s not spelling that’s grammar,,,
    “Oh come on, that’s not spelling, that’s grammar.”
    Oh and,,,”And this is just for entertainment purposes only.”
    “He’s already done proving just how little I know about the military.”


    Wow what a petty, sour, wannabe of a guy that he knows all that!!???

    • LOL, sorry dude, I was joking around, never thought you would lose your head over it, haha, calm down man, breathe… I’m unsure if I should laugh at how hilarious this is becoming or apologize because I kind of feel bad…

  3. I watched the movie a while ago and I was greatly satisfied. Not that I’m saying this is a great movie. I find the first 10 minutes really irritating. I was getting dizzy with that shaky cam. Well, I’m not that movie-goer type that sleeps when the movie’s boring, I really try to listen and keep up with the movie. So the movie’s good. It is action packed. It somehow made me tensed, nervous or etc. It has not that good plot but it kept me hanging what will they do next.

  4. You know, I really don’t know what everybody is pouting about on this movie. I thought it was really good and I would definitely buy this movie on blue-ray. Sure the writing is not all Inception like and totally original, but its still a pretty good war movie. A hell of a lot better than Pearl Harbor. And oh yeah the whole shaky camera was totally over reacted. It was a bit shaky in the beginning but over all i was quite satisfied with it. And then people were saying on how they don’t show the aliens enough which when i first heard that i was kinda disappointed. But then i saw it and i was really glad they didn’t show them all that much. Because when you do first see them they are the kind of aliens that if you saw them too much they would start to look fake and unreal. Yes it is more about the whole team bonding type deal than the whole aliens but they made it work out alright. So go see this movie, its really good and if you like a good war movie you should like this. Just don’t expect an Independence Day movie. Its more Black Hawk down with aliens just thrown in the middle.

  5. The movie is NOT science fiction. Their is no science involved at any level as far as I can tell. As a matter of fact I kept wondering if maybe someone had let thier 12 year old son who wasn’t too bright write the script. The aliens bring thousands of huge spacecraft across the galaxy ( well between stars that’s 100s of light years) which means they are 1000′s of years more advanced than us. But their weapons are more or less evenly matched with our. A lot of brilliant people have thought about real Contact with aliens who could fly here and it wouldn’t be pretty – their technology would look like majic. Take a amazonian indian from some remote tribe who has never seen a modern man. Attack his village with a Stealth Bomber, attack helicopers, artillery, gas, laser weapons and body armoured ground troops. How are they going to make out? SPOILER ALERT? Are the indians going to locate the command and control vehicle and lob flaming arrows into it? Thus defeating the attacking force or at least making them pull back? If you said ‘yes’ or even ‘it’s possilbe’ check your blood sugar levels – the indians aren’t going to have the slightest clue about a modern command and control center that’s controlling things with GPS guided remote control / radio for that matter. So just as the indians would be facing a wide variety of weapons that were so far past thier understanding that they looked to be majic. If space faring aliens came to attack with the idea of killing everyone or at very least not afraid to break stuff.. their technology would be so beyond ours it would be a huge challenge even to figure out what it was, let alone how it worked. This movie assumes the aliens have an armhy like ours except with slightly better smokey bullets..
    So why even make the movie about aliens? If you want a war movie there are several good ones, even some going on right now that you could have used. Anyway SPOILER ALERT you can kill the alien soldiers by shooting them in the right side of the chest. Yep, that’s one way they figure out how to kill the aliens… deep huh? They really hit the books on this one to base it on ..? I just kept thinking how James Cameron enlisted real scientist in the making of Avatar and the result was something BELIEVABLE, ORIGINAL and AMAZING. I thought i saw in the credits to this film that Levi Johnston ( SP’s son in law?) was the ‘Key Science Advisor’ to Battle of LA.

    So much is wrong with this movie at so many levels the 1 dimensional charaters who are tired tired stereo types , plot, camera work, but the total dis respect of the viewers basic understanding of science is insulting. SPOILER ALERT – the aliens are here becasue they want our water… because ‘liquid water appears no where else in the known universe. NO. ‘it powers thier engines’ – they can fly across the univers but can’t melt a commet.

    It is too bad because the totally unequal challenge and overwhelming magic like abilities of a hostile alien invasion and the people who fought back could be a really interesting movie if someone had assumed the audience was’t idiots.

    • I totally agree on all of your points!

      + this is one of the worst “The US Army needs new recruits for wars in Afghanistan, Iraq etc.” and to make it even worse they use a child for this too!!!

      The only message of this movie: Join the Army, we are heroes and we can save the world forget the navy or the airforce we do not really need them (except the laser guided rockets maybe).

      How much of the production budget was paid by the army?

      Sorry this movie was awful and plain ridiculous…after the movie I expected some army guys waiting outside to talk to you and convince you joining…but oh wait that would not have been possible since I was in a cinema in a foreign country.

      The story could have been developed so so much more, a pity and I really liked the special effects.

      • @andi,,,
        The troops in the film were Marines from Camp Pendleton. That’s a Marine base not Army.

        and I totally disgree with your “we need new recruits for iraq and afganistan”

      • Andi,

        Yes, of course – much better if they showed the marines to be vicious, cruel, unbalanced rapists (as the military has been portrayed in other films).


      • Well, when someone clearly shows that they have no clue what’s going on around them, then his/her opinion really doesn’t count. For example, they probably stated that they were Marines no less than 50 times in this movie, lol, yet this space cadet thinks they are in the “army.” I’m willing to bet all of your opinions on everything from movies to life lessons to politics are all based on the very little bit of information you seem to be capable of absorbing from your surroundings… Stress on VERY LITTLE BIT…

          • Uh, how does me being narrow-minded somehow mitigate the fact that you couldn’t grasp a concept that was yelled in your face over and over and over. It’s like if I watched a movie about a doctor, and people referred him as “Doctor!” and his name tag says “Dr. Smith” and they showed a close up of his office door and it says “Dr. Smith MD” and then they do a flashback of his med school where he’s learning to be a doctor, and then more people compliment how he’s such a great doctor. Yet after watching all of that, I think he’s a nurse… Would you be narrow-minded to think that I’m simply a VERY unobservant person, or is that simply a fact???

            • Ken,

              I can totally understand how folks who aren’t tuned in to the military (as andi obviously isn’t) might mix up marines and army.


              I’m sorry, but I see absolutely nothing wrong with showing the military in a positive light (for a change). I’m wondering, did you have an issue with “Saving Private Ryan”?



              • @Vic

                Yes, I know that, but if all you saw was the trailer, then I would definitely agree. I’m not expecting everyone to recognize the differences in their uniform. I watched the movie and can tell these guys are Marines, toward the middle where they run into other troops, I can immediately tell they were Army by their uniform, and that Michelle Rodriguez was Air Force by hers. I don’t expect everyone to recognize that. But you have to admit, this movie was really the love letter to the Marines like Aaron Eckhart said it was. They literally said they were Marines like 50 times in the movie. If you can’t tell by looking, if you just listen to them, only if you’re really spaced out would you not notice them saying the word “Marines” like a trillion times.

                Like my example with the doctor, I’m not in the medical field, I was never in medical school, but if someone was referred to as a Doctor as many times as these guys were referred to as Marines in this movie, no way I would not grasp that concept… Just my opinion…

                But yes, I agree with you that there is absolutely nothing wrong with portraying the military in a positive manner. These ungrateful filmmakers often do the exact opposite.

                Which is more accurate? The positive portrayal, BY FAR. Just about everyone I’ve met through the military and all of my friends who are also in the military, I don’t think I know one person who looks forward to doing “bad” things like intentionally killing civilians or anything like that. Sure things like that happen, but it’s definitely an exception to the rule. I’ve known people who have been involved in situations where civilians were accidentally killed in an operation, and while some of them feel it was the situation that went south, not their actions, all of them still feel guilty about it and hope that it went down differently. Some of them kick themselves blaming their own actions for what happened, those need therapy, seriously, because they often time get pretty depressed…

              • Vic,
                I don’t understand what your problem is with Andi. He (She) stated that it didn’t matter to him whether the military was portrayed in a positive or negative light. That aspect, if I understand him (her) correctly, that is irrelevant.

                What Andi didn’t like was that it seemed to be a recruitment tool through-and-through. While I don’t AGREE with that, I can understand it. I’m sure you and I would see certain films as recruitment or indoctrination pamphlets for the extreme left–such as The Day After Tomorrow–while others don’t catch that vibe at all.

                This thread has mostly devolved into bickering and word-copping. Vic, it’s your board so you can do what you want, but I challenge your consistency for allowing “popular” posters to toss around ad hominems without even a comment. (Kenneth directly insulting other posters’ intelligence. And Kenneth–you’re WAY above that. I’m surprised an honest mistake or even an ignorant snub got your dander up.)

                Whoever said “I wish the movie was longer,” I remember breathing a sigh of relief when it finally ended!

                • “I don’t understand what your problem is with Andi. He (She) stated that it didn’t matter to him whether the military was portrayed in a positive or negative light. That aspect, if I understand him (her) correctly, that is irrelevant.”

                  Thank you that’s exactely what I meant. By the way I am a he :)

                • SHC,

                  What, exactly, about this movie was recruitment material? Is the portrayal of soldiers as heroic and self-sacrificing automatically recruitment material? Is every WWII movie ever made back in the 40s and 50s a recruitment film because it showed U.S. soldiers as the good guys?

                  Just makes no sense to me, is all.

                  As to bickering. There are not enough hours in the day for me to read every comment on this site in detail. There are probably close to 1,000 comments a day here now – I skim and look for things that catch my eye. I do what I can to keep this place civil but I’m not perfect and I have MANY other things to do in relation to running this site – so be happy it’s as moderated as it is before you go throwing around accusations of favoritism.


      • Andi and Andrew,

        First off, those were Marines and Airforce. It would be nice if your rant about propaganda were correct.
        I suggest you learn about the subject you’re trying to put down next time.

        Secondly, You’re going off about a movie like you didn’t KNOW what it was about. I do that all the time… buy tickets to something i’ve never heard of or seen the previews or advertisements.
        …and I have land in central Japan for sale.

    • There* their* magic* possible* army* disrespect* their* universe* comet*

  6. ” These ungrateful filmmakers”,,, who are you talking about?

    I’d love to hear the anti-American military films that have scared your life Ken?
    “Which is more accurate? The positive portrayal, BY FAR.”,,,
    How about the true portrayal or the real story?

    I will agree and have already stated that this film was pure propaganda and a recruitment tool for programming.

    Tally ho!

    • Seriously dude, are you really that hard of understanding? I was asking which hollywood portrayal of the military resembles “the true portrayal or the real story” more, and I’m saying the positive portrayal does. How is that hard to understand? Yet you still find a way to misunderstand it…

      But what do I know, it’s not like almost all of my friends are or were in the military or anything like that, pssshhh, I’m sure some reporter or some fat guy writing a website in his grandmother’s basement knows more than I do about the military…

  7. Ken do you drink a lot of Red Bull?


    • I don’t drink any energy drinks at all, regardless of name brand.

  8. Ken your a male nurse right? Not an Air Traffic controller,,, :)

    • Who is my a male nurse? I don’t understand your question…

      And what is not an air traffic controller? I’m so confused… ;-)

      I love giving you a hard time with your grammar, ack, spelling as you think it is… I’m actually neither of those. Not sure where the air traffic controller came from, I know I mentioned nurse when I spoke about the doctor example, but I also remember saying that I’m NOT in the medical field?? Odd…

      Oh, and is it appropriate to call male nurses murses?? Just wondering…

  9. Really 790, you talk about maturity level… …then wish them to die in a slush of oil and chemicals…

    Not verry mature is it 790? please bring it down, your angry level that is, nothing wrong in holding to your beliefs, we all do it… …its when you Think your beliefs Are the only truth out there, well then your an asshole(sorry for the language), and THIS IS COMMENT IS NOT ONLY MEANT FOR YOU 790.

    There Are a lot of narrowed minded drones out there, and you can pick any radical pointed political site to discuss them, you will never win because every mind is locked within itself, holding the only truth, but you can maybe instill an idea, an idea that will grow…

    But fertilizing an idea with rambling of “death be upon you” well thats is like making tomatoes grow in gasoline, i dont think its going to happen.

    This site is for discussing movies, and films, tv show and obviously reality tv like OC ( or whatever its called), if the discussions bleeds out into whats propaganda in a movie, this comment section is really a moot point, as everything is propaganda in someway or another.

    If this was a propaganda movie for the military, i do not Think so, i Think it depicted some good military POV but thats it, just another slurpy for you brain to eat as we all live life in eqonomic slavery(my point of view), but i liked this slurpy…
    …this slurpy had a good taste of crumbling towns, strange flying wehicles, strange creatures, and ofcourse a goodlooking hero, a beatifull heroine(i hope thats spelled correctly, or i just glorified an illegal substance)

    So to close: its okay to not agree, and to discuss the finer points, but please do not insult my mind with “almost” name dropping treaths and playground sematics like ” your stupid if you dont get that…!” its just embarrasing guys, and it does nothing to Broaden our view of the art.


    • I’ve deleted 790′s comment. 790, you’re really walking the line lately, bud.


    • Oh geez I really hope we don’t start discussing “reality” shows on here… *shudders*

  10. Will you guys STOP commenting(ranting)about each other and RESUME commenting on the MOVIE instead ?


  11. Sorry if I get a little intense Jf, I’ve been dealing with ken’s antagonistic style for YEARS on this site and others. He continues to have “I know you are but what am I?” mentality when it comes to his perspectives and every now and then I have to remind him how I feel about him. Sorry about that.
    Battle LA, is a massively unbalanced video game paced story that focuses more on the military defending against an alien enemy slightly more advanced only to provide the illusion of a general threat.

    Remember I said unbalanced and that’s where the film knwingly or not, becomes cinema fodder and more or less a recruitment film/cheesy action movie.
    Same thing with Red Dawn. Of course its not going to be written down somewhere on the dvd cover…

    Ok moving on,,

  12. Wait, who’s angry? Did I miss something?? LOL.

  13. i watched it, and i liked it. aaron eckart’s
    presence of mind during the high points of the battle
    was very impressive.

    finding out how to kill an alien shows that he is
    aware and probably counting bullets when the first
    alien was killed at the swimming pool.

    his radio call at the airfield shows that he is aware
    that the capability of the aliens to locate radio
    transmissions is limited by distance.(painfully obvious
    during the drones efforts to find the bus)

    tho i still havent figured whether the aliens monitor
    just transmissions or whether they can detect radios
    just set to receive.

    eckart probably saw the aliens dragging their wounded
    to cover. he probably figured out that this ground
    assault has meaning and COST to the aliens as well.

    in the end that is what it comes down to. make an invasion
    costly for the invading force. not just personel because if
    the aliens are after resources then obviously their hardware
    and ships are premium cost.

    some weird things tho. the aliens lead with their ground
    forces instead of their drone air force. intriguing.

    i can buy the aliens are after our water. of course its more
    than that because they know a ground assault on populated areas
    is going to cost them. so its gotta be something more than
    just water which they can get on an uninhabited island.

    i would be interesting to find out how they mentally justified the cost
    in personnel lost during a ground assault.

    the shaky cam did not bother me too much. of course i was sitting
    way at the back of the movie house. thanks to advance input from
    screen rant :)

  14. How in the heck did I even spend this much time reading through all your comments? This is the first time I have been to this site. I came here to get a review and beyond that I end up reading a full movie’s worth of comments. Now I don’t even have time to watch Battle Los Angeles tonight. GEEZ!!!!

  15. I am a Active duty Marine and i watched this film on a base in Okinawa, Japan on a first screen showing (now when i say i watched it on a base, i mean a training base, not a base with dependents, so picture a theater full of 19-30 year old men). Now, as a Marine, we appreciate any film that does not make us look like the bad guy and portrays the newer generation of Marines quite accurately which i felt this movie did very well. I enjoyed the film because it motivates, not recruits (as i seen as an argument in previous comments). The theater roared with “Oorah!”s and numerous other motivational rants. I’ll sum up with a quote of what probably any other Marine will tell you from watching this movie:

    “The film was really what I expected a movie called “Battle: Los Angeles” to be. It was a battle, and it took place in Los Angeles. There were aliens, there were Marines, things got fu**** up. I actually appreciated the complete lack of a coherent story–I mean come on, why waste our time? No one needed to fall in love, no kids needed to kick a velociraptor out a window with her gymnastics skills, and no one needed to explain why the aliens were there. If you were going into Battle: Los Angeles expecting something thought provoking, I encourage you to learn to read movie titles.” quoted from Terminal Lance #113.

    • Totally agree sir, except for the fact that There Are american military bases on Japan soil, but thats neither here nor there.

      And i remember when i was in the military, back in 95, i felt There was no coherent feeling in the training exercises, well atleast not before we went trough them after the fact, and thats what i seem to remember from the film, they where just another squad on a larger battlefield, ofcourse it doesnt make a Hole lot of sense There and then… …but when you look back in retrospect they may have been (the fictional equilant) equally as important as the squad that found the weak point of a tiger panzer.

      One last thing, be carefull, take care, and godspeed

  16. What i don’t understood is if truth be told how you’re no longer actually much more neatly-preferred than you may be right now. You’re so intelligent. You already know thus significantly on the subject of this matter, made me for my part imagine it from so many various angles. Its like men and women are not interested except it?s one thing to accomplish with Woman gaga! Your personal stuffs outstanding. At all times care for it up!

  17. I love this movie because It’s the best movie I’ve seen so far it actually takes us into some what the world of a solider… This movie tells of brave men fighting for their country&families dying in battle because they knew they had a job 2do that everybody else ran from&hid in the dessert…so what its aliens in the movie… It’s about the strong brave men&women not giving up even though they were looking@the impossible but didn’t give up… didn’t lose hope… fighting till the end& coming out strong to win the battle…

  18. 10/10 or 5/5 Stars/Rating for me. Why?

    I know the movie lacked a very INTELLIGENT lines, BUT!

    But! These lacking lines made this movie FOR ME to become GREAT! why again?

    The story is all about WORLD WAR. ALiens and Humanity, who the hell have time to research things and have love story when humanity is getting wiped out as we can see in the movie.

    I mean, the scientists in the movie is getting infos about why the aliens invaded and that’s great but they are limited since the army, marines, and all armies around the world can’t go near the site because Aliens has fire superiority.

    Now, This movie is all about a group of marines tried to save what they can and do what they believe is right. and as I am watching this movie, I am getting more excited.

    This Movie has that some sort of unpredictableness.


    “WE JUST HAD BREAKFAST” then walks out to fight again… what a motivational and learning lesson this movie has.

    Now for the negatives….. I respect ur point of views but dont bash too much, every movie has it’s pros and cons so appreciate each movies whether they are low budget or high budget productions since what we really are into is the Story.

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  20. I don’t understand the poor reviews. Shaky can didn’t seem over the top and it seemed like we were really there, which is the desire of shaky cam, so I feel like it worked.

    (I feel like if you are reading the 320th comment, you get the jist of the movie but just in case.)

    I really enjoyed the portrayal of the marines in this movie and I thought all of the character actors did well. This is probably my favorite eckhart role and I thought he delivered multiple times on his dramatic scenes. The way his character inspired his men (and the civilians) was refreshing.

    Scenes that I really enjoyed:
    Hector’s dad stepping up
    Eckharts speech following his death to rally the troops.
    Eckhart running off the men that he lost off the top of his head
    When eckhart jumped off the chopper and his troops followed
    The very end when they start loading up for more.


    • @Muzachman

      I agree man, but you know, now-a-days it’s cool to have a “blame USA first” attitude and the military is seen as a “bad” thing. So any movie that doesn’t paint the military like just a bunch of adrenaline junkies willing to kill innocent people for no reason will be seen as “propaganda” or whatever. It’s the “cool” attitude to have now-a-days.

      But I also really liked the way the Marines were portrayed in this movie. I think him being able to change the mind of a kid that absolutely hated him and blamed him for his brother’s death with one speech was just absolutely amazing. He even made the poor guy cry for goodness sakes. It was definitely a moving scene in my opinion, and I can imagine the amount of guilt his character had to live with in that situation.

      • I agree. A lot of goosebumps from those scenes. It seems like some people try to be hardcore movie reviewers on this site as opposed to just enjoying the movie for entertainment purposes. Did the movie make you laugh, cry, smile, have fun? Then it did it’s job. Got you out of your world for a few hours. Not everything needs to be nitpicked. Find the good in things as opposed to hunting the bad. Your life will be more enjoyable.