Battle: Los Angeles (2011)
Release Date: March 11th, 2011 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Jonathan Liebesman Actors: Aaron Eckhart, Bridget Moynahan, Michelle Rodriguez, Michael Pena, Ne-Yo, Noel Fisher, Joey King
he creators of “Battle: Los Angeles” have definitely played their video games and watched their alien invasion films. While derivative, this latest hostile encounter of the third kind still manages to provide solid entertainment with its no-nonsense nature, massive alien creations, and intense wartime operations, including classic rescue, recon, and offensive missions. In fact, these frantic maneuvers result in a rather relentless pacing, one that would be ideal in a video game but perhaps not so much in a movie. The film does have more conspicuous problems, including an obnoxious amount of camaraderie, an abundance of throwaway characters who receive entirely too much screen time, a cameraman suffering from seizures, and a horrendous title. But with the success of “Halo,” “Resistance,” “Gears of War” and more, and this film’s similarities to video game structuring, it’s likely people will enjoy watching evil alien invaders as much as they delight in controlling the conquering themselves.
After strange meteorites begin landing off the coasts of major populations around the world, it becomes clear that it’s more than just a weather anomaly. As otherworldly invaders emerge and begin attacking the cities, retiring Staff Sergeant Michael Nantz (Aaron Eckhart) must head into combat once again. Leading a platoon of marines on a rescue mission through the alien-infested streets of Los Angeles, Nantz must join forces with Tech Sergeant Elena Santos (Michelle Rodriguez) to save civilians and turn the tide of battle against an alien foe of unimaginable power.
“Battle: Los Angeles” never lets up from the very start, which is both a strength and a weakness. With very little comic relief and no time to catch your breath, it strays from the lighthearted fun of “Independence Day” or “Mars Attacks!,” opting instead for a darker, more tragic and action-oriented feel like “War of the Worlds” or “Cloverfield.” This leads to a mission of redemption and sacrifice that is fierce and heartfelt, intermittently fused with overwhelmingly silly rallying war cries, gung ho hoorah talks, John Wayne heroics, soapbox speeches, the barking of orders, and soldiers verbally losing their cool. Unfortunately, with its PG-13 rating, the combat dialogue is noticeably moderated.
The quick zooms and constant use of shaky cam techniques never gets nauseating, thankfully, but the attention to unnecessary details lean in that direction. A lot of time is spent giving each soldier a name and rank, brief histories, plenty of visual brotherhood, and senses of patriotism, duty, honor, and discipline – USMC life. It’s a lot of wasted screentime considering so many of the troops are simple fodder and the focus is frequently on chaotic firefights, piercing bullet strafes, reverberating explosions, and Portuguese man-of-war jellyfish alien dissection. Despite all of the time spent on character development and the initial search and rescue task, the conclusion is rather rushed, shifting into a save-the-world resolve, necessary to avoid ending a full-on alien invasion with an epilogue of how the war was won. It might have felt more satisfying if Nantz’ mission all along had been to discover the alien weakness and exploit it.
– The Massie Twins