Battle: Los Angeles (2011)

Following the release of last year’s controversial Skyline – the Brothers Strause’s sophomore effort which may or may not have plagiarised Battle: Los Angeles, a film the brothers had previously worked on – Jonathan Liebesman’s latest film was left looking like the White Knight of alien invasion movies.

How fitting, then, that Battle: Los Angeles should star Aaron Eckhart – Gotham’s very own White Knight – as Staff Sergeant Nantz, a retiring marine left fighting almost as many demons as he is extraterrestrial invaders, having infamously lost his entire platoon in a previous engagement. Dragged back into battle by the film’s antagonistic mess of flashing biotechnology and flailing tentacles, Nantz has the opportunity to redeem himself in both his own eyes and those of his doubtful men.

While Battle: Los Angeles is exponentially better than Skyline (heck, AVP:R was exponentially better than Skyline), and arguably the best movie of Liebesman’s career, it is by no means a classic in its increasingly overcrowded genre. Once again casting gone-off seafood as its resident evil, and with Michelle Rodriquez reprising the role of Michelle Rodriguez, this is a far cry from the recent trend towards more adult territory – a tonal shift championed by such acclaimed efforts as District 9 and Monsters, two movies that also show their respective alien encounters from ground level and thus rob Battle: Los Angeles of its one claim to originality.

The biggest problem with Battle: Los Angeles, however, is how frustrating it all is. As Liebesman does his best to obscure all onscreen action with a frenetic handheld camera, expertly blurring the identikit soldiers and poorly rendered extraterrestrial cuttlefish until it’s impossible to tell who is exploding and who might be responsible, it becomes clear that the film is more concerned with ethnic diversity than it is with actual character development. Christopher Bertolini’s script, meanwhile – an uninspired slew of certificate-defying swear words and gratuitous grunting – is so laughably macho that it might have been written by Arnold Schwazenegger’s right bicep. Why do the aliens wait half the movie to deploy their air-force? Why, when their technology is so evidently superior to our own, are their weapons so ineffective? Why are they invading LA in the first place, a city devoid of any discernible tactical advantage?

As such, if you are looking for an intelligent slice of science fiction, look elsewhere. If, however, all you are after is a melee of machismo mayhem in which character and internal logic are about as important as what Rodriguez chooses to wear on the red carpet – and you’re willing to forgive some seriously clunky dialogue and rubbish special effects – Battle: Los Angeles is a thoroughly enjoyable event movie that expertly compensates for the fact that the majority of viewers wouldn’t know a pristine Los Angeles if it staged an invasion of its own. Nevertheless, as far as the prospective World Invasion franchise is concerned, it would be considerably more interesting to see how other directors might tackle an alien invasion than how other cities might have fared.

While Battle: Los Angeles certainly has its moments, with a few decent creature designs saving it from complete redundancy, it has very little to say that hasn’t been said countless times before. Championing war with slogans such as “marines don’t quit!”, this is propaganda at its most nauseating, a black and white depiction of war that smarts unintentionally of Starship Troopers. By film’s end you will either be airpunching with the film’s protagonists or wishing they’d just sit down and have breakfast so that you could go home and watch something a little more substantial.

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

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