An officer and an alien

An officer and an alien
Date:26 April 2011 Tags:

What if all the UFO sightings over the years weren’t weather balloons or secret military planes, but alien scout craft doing reconnaissance for a future invasion? That’s the premise of Battle: Los Angeles, an on-the- ground view of a worldwide invasion from the perspective of one squad of US Marines. “It’s like District 9 meets Black Hawk down meets Modern warfare,” says star Michelle Rodriguez (Avatar). “That’s the best way to explain it.”

Director Jonathan Liebesman wanted his actors to bring realism to their portrayal of Marines, so his crew contacted Lieutenant-Colonel Jason Johnston, artilleryman turned director of the Marine Corps Entertainment Office in Los Angeles. The office handles requests from productions that want the support of the Corps, which includes everything from providing reference recordings for video games to scheduling a production’s use of assets such as helicopters. Johnston and his crew looked over the script, advised the prop and costume departments and subjected the actors to a threeweek boot camp: like real Marines, the cast slept outside, participated in physical training, learned tactics and hit the gun range.

But whereas the actors’ Marine guise was nearly perfect, not everything in Battle: Los Angeles hits that same standard of accuracy. Rodriguez, who sat down with Air Force techs in the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Division to research her role, says some of the technical information her character imparts was simplifi ed for the benefit of the audience. One character, for example, asks if radio-frequency transmissions could take out electronics. “I said yeah, because I was supposed to, but that’s not right – electromagnetic pulses (EMPs) are what do that!” Rodriguez says. “Producers think that people don’t get it, but kids who play video games know what EMPs are. But I’m aware that it’s a film, so I have to say, let it go, Michelle.”

By Erin McCarthy

Marines vs Aliens

Air
The aliens rely on large unmanned attack aircraft to soften human resistance; real-life Marine squads launch
hand-held UAVs to see surrounding terrain.

Sea
Expeditionary warfare depends on supporting ground troops from areas away from combat. Marines use large surface ships; the alien equivalents emerge from underwater – and underground.

Land
Alien footsoldiers face an experienced foe in the streets of LA; the US Marines’ first urban fi ght occurred in
Tripoli in 1805.

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