BATTLE: LOS ANGELES is the latest alien invasion flick to land in theaters directed by relative unknown Jonathan Liebesman (DARKNESS FALLS, THE KILLING FIELDS) and starring the stoic Aaron Eckhart (THE DARK KNIGHT, THANK YOU FOR SMOKING). The film follows Staff Sergeant Michael Nantz (Eckhart) as he leads a platoon of young officers to a police station where civilians are stranded during a violent alien invasion. What appears to be meteors hitting the Earth is actually alien crafts landing and attacking in an attempt to horde our natural resources. The result is an action packed film that rarely stops for a breath and is full of cool special effects, interesting alien and vehicle designs, and some great set pieces.
This movie is all about your expectations going into the theater. If you go into this looking for a deep story with multi-layered characters then you will be sorely disappointed. However, if you want to drop your brain for 2 hours and see a massive alien invasion that destroys LA to its foundations, you will have a blast. I chose the latter and had a pretty good time with this one overall.
The glue that holds this movie together is Eckhart’s stoic performance as the weathered Sergeant who was just about to retire. His character has evident weaknesses, a questionable past that gets revealed gradually, and he just barely passes as a bad ass in this role. While it is by no means award winning, it does give the audience someone to root for and his screen presence is great here. The supporting cast is barely worth mentioning because I can’t think of a single one that I cared about. They were pretty cookie cutter. We have the rookie kid, the man about to get married, the defiant rebel, and the tough-as-nails chick who can fight with the boys. Their purpose was to basically argue with Eckhart’s character and get blown up.
The reason I came to the theatre was to see the special effects, the alien and vehicle designs, and to see massive amounts of destruction and explosions. The movie delivers on all accounts, but I must admit there is really only one standout moment with Eckhart’s character that made me say “Hell Yeah!” in my mind. While the action is consistent, it is also somewhat repetitive and lack creativity. Seeing as how we are dealing with a new alien species with awesome weapons, I don’t think this movie pushed any boundaries or really delivered anything too cool or extremely bad ass. My favorite part of this whole experience was just seeing the city get destroyed. LA really looked like a full blown war with shit constantly blowing up or being destroyed in the background. If this movie got one thing absolutely right it would have to be the atmosphere of a violent and relentless alien invasion. Very cool stuff and it looks great on the big screen!
Like I said, it’s all about your expectations going into this one. Make no mistake about it, this is a Summer movie given to us in March and that is pretty fantastic. The special effects and atmosphere are spot on, Eckhart’s performance is pretty awesome, and the pacing is fast and furious! If you are at all interested in this one I recommend seeing it in theatres to get the most out of it all.
Final Score: 7 out of 10