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Battle: Los Angeles


Watching a film like Battle: Los Angeles, you can’t help but wonder what the goal or message is supposed to be. Since there is literally less than twenty minutes of non-war scenes, the message – apart from don’t let the aliens take over Earth – never fully surfaces and you’re left with a relentless onslaught of shaky camera angles and shouted military code.

Grade:

Plot is irrelevant for this type of movie, but for Battle aliens want to utilize our water sources to power their machines – or themselves – so they try conquering our planet.  Los Angeles ends up being the main attack point (this is what they want you to think, but really the whole world is under fire) for the invaders. After numerous air raids, Staff Sergeant Nantz (Aaron Eckhart) and his Marines are the only ones left standing their ground. There is more about Nantz’ previous missions and his attempt to retire before being pushed into the fight, but, like I said, everything takes a backseat to fighting.

Battle ends up playing out like a District 9 fused with The Hurt Locker and Independence Day, but doesn’t have the same appeal as any of the three. One ingredient from The Hurt Locker used is the addictive properties of being engaged in battle. Nantz has had traumatic experiences and simply wants to fade into retirement, but once he is pushed back into battle, it becomes the most crucial piece of his character and he can’t let go.

Since his new team doesn’t trust him after his last failed (read: fatal) mission, Nantz has to work to gain their trust and show them there is nothing about the aforementioned failure he enjoys – even surviving it. As the film goes on, we see the fine line between heroic actions and stupidity as Nantz eventually crosses the line into reckless leadership. The irony is once he crosses this line, the audience will find him rash and irresponsible, but his Marines become loyal. After a while, Eckhart ends up mimicking his Dark Knight costar and adapts the Bale-as-Batman voice, except here it makes sense since his character would no doubt be exhausted from about ten continuous hours of battle.

Battle uses clichés from past and, no doubt, future war films. Most importantly, do not have a back story. This is a traditional role in war films and it will get you killed. By a back story, I mean children, a fiancée or wife, being a virgin or in general having plans for the future. It seems the less you say, the better chances you have of survival.

The supporting cast is actually somewhat decent to Eckhart’s Nantz with a few anticipated exceptions. Will Rothhaar, Ne-Yo and the rest of the Marines keep their roles relatively light and unobtrusive. Bridget Moynahan provides the eye candy, albeit briefly. Meanwhile, Michelle Rodriguez, whose role was added to the script months into production, is completely pointless other than to include a tough female character – a.k.a. her role.

I didn’t feel patriotic about seeing the “best of the best” risking their lives for the greater good. I didn’t feel the urge to cheer for my troops. I did get the sense that we are screwed when aliens invade unless they rely on one person/machine like film aliens do. There are intense moments, and some heartfelt ones, but ultimately Battle: Los Angeles is too long and lacks any intrigue.

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  1. I thought the film was quite good when the soldiers were just trying to get people out of one specific area. When the soldiers had a key mission, not “we are solely responsible for the destruction of aliens.” Thought it was a good idea to just show one small view of the wider battle.

    That was until these soldiers did become the solely responsible for our survival, then I switched off from it completely.

    • I think that’s a pretty fair assessment. As they moved along it seemed their fight was futile until that one typical end-all factoid Michelle Rodriguez happened to know, but I agree the initial mission was better than the rest.

  2. Now I liked this film, does appear I am alone in that view, but it was pretty good and I liked the fact that it was all shot from the soldiers view 🙂

    • I can see why you (and others, I know you aren’t alone) enjoyed it, but there wasn’t enough in my opinion. To me it seemed like they had a checklist of war cliches. In any case, if there are people that liked it, they were doing something right and no one can fault them for that!

  3. I didn’t think it was a very good film either. But the most interesting part was how it was primarily fought from the ground. I can’t recall an alien invasion film that’s done that.

    • That’s a good point. I found the news pieces well done and they did well to include the struggle we would have competing in the air.

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