This Week on DVD

Posted on June 14, 2011 at 3:19 pm

DVD pick of the week: The Grace Card This unpretentious but sincere film about the power of anger and the greater power of forgiveness has quiet power, and its final scenes are moving and inspirational.

Also on DVD this week:

Battle: Los Angeles Destined to be remembered primarily as yet another step toward closing the gap between games and movies, the essence of “Battle: Lost Angeles” is a lot of boom-boom and a bunch of “ooo-rah.”  But the action scenes in this military vs. alien invaders saga are fun and the one-the-ground and on-the-fly portrayal of operational strategy and honor is stirring.

Hall Pass A vile mess that wastes the talents of everyone involved, this is an un-funny comedy about married men who want to be cool and single again, just for a week.

Red Riding Hood Oh, Grandmother, what a big, bad movie you have.  I invoked my famous “Gothika Rule” on this one.

 

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Battle: Los Angeles

Posted on March 11, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Destined to be remembered primarily as yet another step toward closing the gap between games and movies, the essence of “Battle: Lost Angeles” is a lot of boom-boom and a bunch of “ooo-rah.” And essence is all it is; no room here for anything but action. That’s a good thing because every time they start talking, you hope for the chases and explosions to start up again.

We see that the world is under attack and then we see 24 hours earlier, just enough time for brief introductions to the characters we’ll be following. Come on, say it along with me! Seen-it-all and seen-too-much vet on his last assignment, still struggling with survivor guilt over the men who died on his watch, innocent from the sticks whose mother signed for him to enlist at 17, guy about to get married, Navy corpsman earning his American citizenship and hoping to become a doctor, team leader just out of Officers Training School and about to become a father, etc. etc. It doesn’t matter much because pretty soon they will all be wearing so much gear and running around so fast we will hardly be able to tell them apart.

At first, it appears to be meteor showers that for some reason were undetected until they were about to crash off the coast of California and some other regions. But then we learn that the objects hurtling toward earth are slowing on descent; they are mechanical. And then stuff starts blowing up in a “textbook military operation” from another planet. And they have all the intel. We know nothing about who they are, what they want, what weapons they have, and basically, how to stop them from the complete annihilation that appears to be their goal. Troops are mobilized and deployed, with circumstances changing so quickly around them that quickly they are providing more information and support than they are getting. Our group is originally sent to rescue a small group of civilians and get them out of the way before US forces bomb the city to eradicate the enemy. But things are far worse than they thought. Contrary to their briefing, the aliens are attacking by air as well as ground. Their mission becomes survival, recon, and then out and out combat.

It tries to be “Independence Day” crossed with “Black Hawk Down.” It doesn’t come close to either.  It’s howlingly bad in places, with clunky construction and ham-handed attempts to insert moments of drama in the midst of all the action (one of the men just happens to be the brother of a Marine who died under the Staff Sergeant’s command, and sadder but wiser civilians and fighting forces learn that war with aliens is hellier than ever).  No one expects this film to be anything more than a delivery system for adrenaline and testosterone, with a bit of alien autopsy and some welcome recognition of the abilities and integrity of the military, but even in that category, it doesn’t pass muster.

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Action/Adventure Fantasy Science-Fiction

Interview: Cory Hardrict of “Battle: Los Angeles”

Posted on March 9, 2011 at 8:00 am

11858_1171807778919_1339760523_30438111_6270962_n.jpgIt was a great pleasure to speak with actor Cory Hardrict about his new film, “Battle: Los Angeles.” It is inspired in part by the real-life Battle for Los Angeles of 1942, just after the United States entered WWII. Hardrict, who has appeared in “Grand Torino” and “He’s Just Not That Into You,” is married to Tia Mowry of “Sister, Sister” and “The Game,” and they are expecting their first child this summer. We talked about going through “boot camp” to play a Marine and agreed that there isn’t much more fun than pretending to fighting aliens for a movie.
I want to begin by congratulating you on becoming a father!
Thank you so much. I look forward to being the best dad I can be.
How did you meet your wife? I am a huge fan.
We met about ten years ago on an independent film and we became best friends. She’s like a piece of me and she always supports me, very loving, very kind, a genuinely great person.
Was making this movie as much fun as it seems?
It was like a dream come true, being able to work on a movie of this magnitude. It was like a childhood dream! If you become an actor, you want to fight aliens, you want to do a war movie, you want to save the world! This is all of that combined in one. And it’s real — not just green screen, it’s like “Saving Private Ryan” meets “War of the Worlds,” “Independence Day,” and “District 9,” and “Black Hawk Town,” all in one big pot.
How do you make it work, fighting with something that isn’t really there?
We had targets to interact with. Jonathan Liebesman is an amazing director. Without giving too much away, it wasn’t like “That’s where you’re firing” — it was real. I’ve never been to war, but I can tell you that it felt like I was at a war.
That’s a big pretend — shooting at aliens — how do you get your head into that space?
Basically, it’s like fighting the unknown enemy, and you’re trying to protect the American soil by any means. No matter who you’re fighting with, there’s a sense of urgency, and a frightening experience as well. I put myself in that mode — that this could really happen. Putting all those variables into what we were shooting made the stakes higher. Just thinking about it — it really was frightening. A crazy cool experience.
You’re in the Marines in the movie — you can always tell a Marine by the way he moves. How did you learn to do that?
We had to go to boot came as soon as we got to Louisiana. The people who trained us were military advisers with drill sergeant experience. They were hands-on. We had three weeks of boot camp. It wasn’t like we staying in a hotel and went out there every day. All thirteen of us had to live in a tent we put up ourselves. We began each day at 5 am with a three-mile run. We got a crew cut. We fought as Marines, we slept as Marines, we lived as Marines. We were all one unit. They put us through the same treatment as Marine basic training going overseas. We were out there in the woods and it was very intense. That’s why I keep going back to saying how real it was. We slept outside in little tent-nets zipped up all around to stay away from mosquitoes, rats, raccoons, everything out there in the woods. There was water drippage every night. When people say, “How was that movie?” I say, “That was real.” I will never forget it. It was the hardest movie I’ve ever done but it was the most satisfying. It was blood, sweat, and tears out there. I wish all actors could have this experience.
I’m sure that helped you bond with the other actors.
They say you’re only as good as the last Marine in the unit. We all became close, we all became good friends, we all bonded for one common goal — to defend America to the best of our ability.
There was one scene where I had some interaction with Aaron Eckhart, assisting one another and saving each other’s lives. He’s all about the greatness of the project. He’s very method and puts his all into it. You just have to follow suit and that’s what we all did.
What movie inspired you to become an actor?
When I saw “Independence Day,” I said, “I want to be like Will Smith.” I want to do something like that. If he can do it, maybe one day I can come close to a set like that. To do a movie of this magnitude — and like “Independence Day” this is intense but emotionally driven by its characters — is a dream come true. If I wasn’t in this film, I would be there at midnight to see the first show! I love doing movies that touch people’s lives.

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