“Battle: Los Angeles” Movie Review


     "Battle: Los Angeles" is another in a long line of alien invasion films and we know this genre has a tendency to hit or miss. It appears with this film, the filmmakers felt they could lend an original feel to the proceedings by infusing the story with a "Black Hawk Down" meets "Independence Day" dynamic.  The results of this experiment are a corny, sometimes boring, sometimes unwatchable action film that is sure to open with a bang at the box office, but will fizzle from bad word of mouth.  It is likely a teenage boy's dream of a movie as some of the more popular video games like "Call of Duty" come to life, but for those looking for quality acting and script you'll want to look elsewhere.

     As is typical with films like this, we are first introduced to a collection of characters and we get a brief snapshot of what is going on in their lives in the moments before the alien invasion.  This, of course, is so we might care when they are killed in battle later in the film.  Sometimes this style of narrative works and sometimes it doesn't.  I guess it would've helped if any of these characters showed any kind of personality, but the dialogue is limited to your standard Marine caricature. A lot of grunting and yelling but nothing meaningful.

     Aaron Eckhart plays Staff Sergeant Nantz, a 20 year Marine Corps veteran who just happens to be working his last day before retirement when the other worldly beings arrive.  He, of course, has a history that involves some of his men being killed as a result of his decisions in battle and this leads to tension with some of the Marines in his platoon.  There is the brand new "top of my class" Lieutenant who wants to make sure the veteran Sergeant knows who's in charge, but later realizes he's in way over his head.  Even Michelle Rodriguez makes an appearance mid way in as an Air Force tech whose entire unit was wiped out and joins Nantz's platoon.  I suppose all of these back stories would be interesting, but once the action starts, you really can never tell who is who.  There is so much shaky camera movement and hyper cut editing that the viewer really can't tell what's going on.  The action scenes are pure unorganized chaos.

     Perhaps the film's biggest and most obvious flaw is it's lack of originality.  First things first, the aliens.  The concept behind them is clearly a "District 9" rip off.  Everything from the alien's look and body style to the ships they came in has been seen before. Even the resolution in the story deals with taking out the mother ship and then communicating with all the other countries about how it was done, just like "Independence Day".  Marines versus Aliens? Sound familiar? It should because none other than James Cameron's masterpiece "Aliens" set the bar for this type of film 25 years ago. So what is Battle: LA missing that Aliens did so well? It's simple. Characters with personality. Unique creature design. Action you can follow. Highly quotable.  Watch Battle: LA  and tell me if you can remember one line beyond "Yes, Staff Sergeant!!", "Move!!", "Go!!".  That's all the characters get to really say unless there's a lull in the action and Nantz gives one of his corny Marine "Hu Rah!" speeches.

     I see this film as a missed opportunity and perhaps something that was rushed.  The talent was there both in front of and behind the camera, but they just didn't get it done.  If your a 12 year old boy, you'll probably be all over this.  If your an overly gung ho Marine type than I would think this film is the equivalent to porn for you.  Otherwise, chalk Battle: LA up as your typical overhyped mess.  GRADE: F