Already Hollywood is planning next year’s marketing offensive on our wallets. One planned blockbuster for summer 2011 is Battle:LA in which extraterrestrial invaders spread alarm and dismay in southern California. But is the motivation of the movie’s aliens astronomically dubious?

An expensive production starring Aaron Eckhart and Michelle Rodriguez (whose character based on past form probably will not survive to the end of the movie), the film is said to feature realistic and gritty combat sequences and well-thought out alien designs.


Alas, one aspect of the script is not well-thought out. Script writer Jonathan Liebesman has explained the aliens’ motive behind their anti-social behaviour “Earth is 70 percent water. The aliens in our movie use water for may different things, so they are here for those natural resources.” (Quote from

What can I say but “Dumb! Dumb! Dumb!” (That dull thudding sound you hear in the distance is me banging my head on the desk.)

Just imagine you are leading an alien water-stealing mission to our Solar System. Do you
a. Go to Earth, take a lot of effort to beat up the natives and take some of their water or
b. Go to Saturn where there is about a hundred thousand trillion tonnes of pure water in the form of nice ice cubes in the planet’s rings ready for the taking. And there’s a pretty view too. And don’t get me started on Enceladus, Mimas, Dione and the other 60 or so Saturnian moons. Or the other gas giant satellites…

It’s been done before, the invaders in the original V (1983-85) came for our water, and in Caretaker (1995), the pilot for Star Trek: Voyager (yes I watched it, somebody had to) the quasi-evil Kazons were crossing interstellar space to steal the H2O from the home planet of the bland and dim-witted Ocampa.

If you have a starship, space is full of water. Only aliens and Hollywood scriptwriters don’t get that!


RasKalad · November 18, 2019 at 13:49

It’s a movie! you sit back and enjoy, if you don’t like it, find something else on the vast options we have nowadays instead of being a party pooper? how many blockbusters have you made DONKEY(edited for language)?

Joe Dante · February 23, 2011 at 08:34

Maybe these Aliens have already exploited the rings and moons of Saturn and everywhere else and just want to come to earth to give us a kicking. Not every military campaign is based on logic. Some species just might enjoy exercising their military supremacy over a lesser culture, and murder,thieve and plunder along the way of course. Why do we constantly assume that just because an Alien race could have the Technology for interstellar travel that they would be incapable of committing a Malicious act?. Humans would, if the roles were reversed and the stakes high enough.

(Editted by Moderator)

Tom · January 2, 2011 at 00:30

Just to highlight the profound levels of stoopid in the film’s premise even further, there are also untold billions of Kuiper belt objects that consist mostly of water as well as the trillions of comets in the Oort cloud.

If all the water on Earth were accumuulated into a single sphere, it would be only 860 miles in diameter. (USGS)

    admin · January 3, 2011 at 12:40

    Just as a matter of interest, can anyone think of any real resource (no unobtainium allowed) worth crossing interstellar space to steal?

      DP · March 10, 2011 at 09:55

      Well, assuming low-cost interstellar travel with FTL superscience such that you can make off with stuff and ship it back across space at not much greater difficulty than crossing an ocean in age of sail days…

      (A). Life forms in abundance presumably unique to Earth.

      – “steal” genome information. If they have decent biotech, they can probably find lots of new idea. That’s more survey-without-permission than wholesale invade, though.

      – harvesting our biological resources. It’s probably non-trivial to make terrestrial plants and animals grow in alien environment, but our bio-products may still appeal to them. While realistically we or other animals or plants probably won’t be edible, there may find biological products (wood, skins, oils, etc.) artistically appealing or even useful. “They want our wood” (or coral) or “render the humans down for their oil – it smells pretty” or “maple syrup and honey makes great luxury perfume” or “humans and dolphins are cute pets.” Works best if the aliens are into fads like the Tulip Bubble.

      (B) Real Estate
      Not exactly stealing, but … until planetary imaging improves a bit, we have no idea how common “habitable” worlds are. It’s not unreasonable to believe that “oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere, liquid water” is optimum for alien as well as human life, and also that such planets are relatively rare. If we grant cheap interstellar travel, then colonization (“they want our land”) isn’t a bad reason to invade.

      (C) Cultural Goods
      Steal the products of earth and sell them to collectors on the alien home planets
      (Probably easier to trade, but maybe the aliens are so powerful or aggressive they aren’t interested in doing so).

      Personally, if I want an alien invasion, I’d rather give them political or cultural motives. Give them an ideology or ‘ism” that also drives them to convert others for their own good, by force. Religious space christians/muslims or Star Trek borg (join the hive) are fine in that regard, but it could be benign: They have immortality tech that requires radical genetic and brain modification and believe in giving the Gift of Life to the galaxy. Or they’re rabid atheists: “gods cause trouble: give yours up please, or die.”

chapo · December 9, 2010 at 01:13

Greenland. I’ll give them California!

Murgatroyd · November 25, 2010 at 10:06

On behalf of Earth, I’d like to offer the aliens the Greenland icecap. Better that they take it — at no charge! free! — than have it melt and raise the sea level a meter or so.

Lots of luck getting it back to their home planetary system …

    admin · November 26, 2010 at 09:03

    Once I had a neat idea for a movie; what if alien infiltrators are manipulating the economy to promote global warming. They prefer warm and wet environments, and they are ‘terraforming’ the Earth to meet their own requirements.

    But alas, it’s already been done, see ‘The Arrival’ (1996)

    Back to ‘Battle:LA’, I imagine if you can transport an invading army across interstellar space, scraping the ice off Greenland would be pretty easy.

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