Friday, 3 February 2012

Film Review #37

Battle: Los Angeles (2011)
Director: Jonathan Liebesman Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez, Ramon Rodriguez, Bridget Moynahan, Ne-Yo, Michael Peña

Certificate: 12 Running Time: 116 Minutes

Tagline: "It's not war. It's survival."

I don't think anyone would disagree that alien invasion films as a general concept have enormous potential for awesomeness, but somehow Hollywood doesn't seem to get them right very often, it seems to me at least. It's now time for another one and, as you may have guessed from the somewhat unsubtle title, it's the City of Angels which bears the brunt this time, at least as far as we, the viewers, are concerned. The film, you see, reveals that mysterious meteorites have started landing in the world's oceans, all of them, not coincidentally, near major cities. With barely any introduction of the main characters it quickly becomes apparent that these errant space-rocks are in fact something wholly more sinister - a suspicion confirmed when an unholy amount of destructive fire-power starts pounding the cities nearest to them including, of course, Los Angeles.

Rather than centering on Presidents and Generals and the people who have to make the tough decisions, Battle instead focuses on Staff Sergeant Michael Nantz (Eckhart), a veteran Marine who lost some of his squad during his last mission and now plans to retire. As the scale of the situation becomes apparent, Nantz is placed under the command of young rookie Lieutenant, William Martinez (Ramon Rodriguez), whose platoon is assigned to rescue some civilians from a Santa Monica police station before the Air Force bombs the crap out of the area, and hopefully the invading hordes at the same time, whose numbers apparently consist only of ground forces. Along the way they encounter an Air Force intelligence office (the lovely Michelle Rodriguez) who apparently has a plan to bring the unknown enemy down.

The premise of Battle: LA isn't very original but the decision to concentrate on just a few of the millions of lives at stake is an interesting take on the genre. It's filmed mainly on handheld cameras in a style resembling a documentary, particularly the explosive battle set-pieces of which there are quite a few, and it could easily be a normal military film were it not for the mysterious alien soldiers of whom we see little. This of course means that there's little here that we haven't seen before. It also means that despite some talented actors involved, it's not a film that requires a huge amount in terms of acting ability, with much of the production budget instead going on the special effects which are accordingly superb. The biggest sacrifice was apparently made on the script which seems to include all the usual military clichés which can be cringe-inducing at times!

Despite them often letting me down, I still find myself looking forward to films like this a lot. The law of averages says there will be at least some corkers, surely? Battle LA is certainly not one of the worst offerings but I can't help feeling it would've worked better as a series of films that introduced and fleshed-out the characters more, had more in-depth plots and sub-plots, including a more gradual build-up to the attack. This would've not only given it time for expositional scenes but would also increase the tension and atmosphere significantly. I suppose it still wouldn't be very original though. Even just an improved script could've worked wonders but if you can live with the corny military-speak and macho-mumbo-jumbo, or if you simply want to see some exciting battle scenes, give Battle LA a try.

RKS Score: 6/10


  1. I`ve been curious about this since I heard about it (I don`t think it was released here in Japan). I`m like you, I always look forward to films like this even though I know that more often than not they will end up disappointing. I`m not a huge fan of macho mumbo jumbo so I might give this one a miss!

  2. Hate to disagree with your(great) write-up but I actually love this film! The explosions were really thumping at the cinema and I loved the non-stop action. Then again, I really like Independence Day too!

  3. No problem sir :) I quite liked it too, I just didn't like the script and I thought it started too suddenly, they're my only problems with it. Worth seeing though! I believe there's a sequel on the way... Oh, and I like ID4 too :)