What do you get if you take Cloverfield’s camera work, the general gist of Independence Day, and mix it with some awesome special effects reminiscent of Transformers? You get Battle: Los Angeles (2011), starring Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight), Ramon Rodriguez (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen), and Cory Hardrict (Gran Torino) among others. The film opened March 11th and brought in about $35.5 million in its opening weekend.
The bulk of the film is in Los Angeles (as the title states) in the near future. Staff Sergeant Michael Nantz (Eckhart) is preparing to retire from the military after his twenty years of duty and fair share of combat and death. On the other hand, 2nd Lieutenant William Martinez (Rodriguez) is fresh out of officer training camp and is preparing to lead his own squad for the first time. Before Nantz can retire, or Martinez can prepare himself, reports come over the news about the coast of different countries (including the U.S.) being hit by what seems to be meteors. Suddenly, a news report shows that it is not a shower of meteors, but an attack by what seems to be mechanical-based aliens. It’s up to Nantz and Martinez to lead a squad of soldiers to battle for the safety of Los Angeles before it is completely destroyed.
We’ve heard it before, we’ve seen it before, but the age old, alien vs. military never gets old in Hollywood’s eyes. It’s all a matter of perspective. Who can renew the sense of fear and awe into audiences with their awesome special effects, and crazy-awesome action sequences?
If you’re looking for something unique, look further, because Battle: Los Angeles didn’t do anything that hasn’t been done. The camera work alone will take you so far out of the movie that you don’t even care about what’s going on because of motion sickness. I understand trying to make the viewer feel more connected to the movie by not having a steady camera, but it was too much in this movie. You couldn’t tell what was going on; and you’d better not rely on dialogue to coach you through the sequences, because words were far and few in between during the action sequences.
The plot alone was mediocre at best, but for this genre of film, you only have to be mediocre to pass as an awesome movie. The characters were roughly developed, and we got to scratch the surface with why they were significant to the film. They had families, sisters, were engaged, and heard rumors about Nantz…but that’s about all we get. The aliens were there to deplete Earth’s main resource, blah blah blah, and proved tough to kill because of their advanced weaponry and whatnot.
The acting was…not present due to the many grunts, groans, screams, and random curse words. There were some exchanges between civilians that gave the film a softer side at needed times, thanks to Joe Rincon (Michael Peña of Shooter) and Michele (Bridget Moynahan of I, Robot). The casting was well done, however, as unlikely heroes emerged from the squadron of Marines.
The action-sequences are what saved this film. The special effects were out of this world (no pun intended). The aliens were uniquely done and slightly creepy. There were plenty of gunfights and explosions and one scene with the alien that may make your stomach turn slightly. If you are looking for a movie with little to no substance, but an extremely wild ride, then Battle: Los Angeles may be the movie for you.
Little Rock Movie Examiner’s rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
MPAA rating: PG-13
Minimum Age Group: Middle School
Sexuality: one sexual joke
Language: Mild language, 1 f-word
Drugs/Alcohol: drinking (only at the beginning of the film)
Violence: Intense, sometimes frightening action scenes, views of dead bodies, many explosions
Themes/Issues: Military, death, extra-terrestrials.
Similar Titles coming out soon: Sucker Punch (March 25th) , Apollo 18 (April 22nd) , Priest (May 13th)
Other movies you may like: Independence Day (1996) , Transformers (2007) , Cloverfield (2008)