If you’re looking for a movie to help wash that horrible taste Skyline left in your mouth, then watch Battle: Los Angeles. It’s not amazing, but it manages to deliver the action that was supplied in the trailer. I feel bad for basing my review for this movie off of another movie, but given the circumstances surrounding the two movies, I can’t help myself.
For those of you that didn’t know, the directors behind Skyline were responsible for the visual effects in Battle: LA. They were working on Battle: LA and decided that they could make their own movie and do their own visual effects and release it before Battle: LA to bank on the alien invasion fad that’s currently starting up again. That didn’t work too well because Skyline proves that The Brothers Strause are TERRIBLE directors, but EXCELLENT at visual effects.
When I heard about Battle: LA coming out shortly after Skyline, I began to get excited. A movie that isn’t directed by The Brothers Fail, but it still manages to use their excellent use of visual effects. Plus, Battle: LA was heavily marketing the epic warfare sequences and they deliver on all of that. The only real problems Battle: LA suffers are the very predictable plot and the overuse of manly Marines.
The story of Battle: LA is very familiar, we are hit with an alien attack out of nowhere and we must respond. This particular movie focuses on the perspective of a group of Marines, lead by our leading man, Aaron Eckhart, who plays SSgt. Michael Nantz. That’s not entirely true since Nantz is actually following orders from the 2nd Lt. William Martinez. The beginning of the movie clearly shows that SSgt. Nantz is on his way to retirement and he doesn’t want to be giving orders, but due to the alien circumstances, he is asked to follow 2nd Lt. Martinez and his men into battle.
The rest of the story is your typical war film mixed with aliens instead of human enemies. They are given several missions that involve taking over certain checkpoints and bases and recovering civilians. The ending does go down familiar territories but it sort of leans back and doesn’t feel forced. I’m very curious to see where they go from here.
What I did like about this film was both the action and the visual effects. The aliens and their spacecrafts look great! This is where The Brothers Strause really shine. They know how to make some very unique creatures. That being said, the action is also great. It’s very similar to other war films, like Saving Private Ryan and Black Hawk Down. I loved the different camera techniques the director used. The director, Jonathan Liebesman mentioned that he used those films listed above as inspirations in addition to YouTube footage of Marines fighting in Fallujah. He manages to use both traditional shots and more documentary type shots that are more over the shoulder and in the action, which is where I can see why people compared this to District 9. Other then the camera shots, I would say that this is NOTHING like District 9. It really tends to follow the generic war film route and that isn’t a bad thing, but that also doesn’t help the film much in being original.
That leads me into what I didn’t like about the film. The first thing I didn’t like was the running time; it felt like they could have cut 20 to 30 minutes without losing any of the story. Most of the downtime in the movie was spent showing us how united the Marines are or some generic death scene in which they all vow for revenge. The second main thing that annoyed me was the fact that they kept shoving the Marines in my face. The movie might as well be a two hour commercial for the Marines. They had to plug that every time they got the chance. You HAD to know that these men are part of a very special team that just won’t quit. I get that Marines are awesome and I really am appreciative towards all the things they do for their country, but you don’t need to show them high fiving and dick measuring every five minutes.
Overall, Battle: Los Angeles manages to follow the typical war path with an added alien element. It’s fun to watch for the action and effects, but once those wear off, there really isn’t much left to like about the film. I do suggest seeing it in theaters as I can imagine most of the fun won’t be properly replicated at home unless you have a massive TV and an epic surround sound system.
Battle: Los Angeles – 7.5/10
*Side note: I was able to catch this at a D-BOX theater and that really did add to the experience. Every time a chopper swooped in low your seat literally leaned to the ground and you could feel every bullet hit the seat as the firefights started to happen. If you have a D-BOX theater near you, I suggest paying the premium to check it out there.