A week or so ago I submitted the following answer to an online competition on a well known movie magazine website: “Because Los Angeles is such a horrible city and I’d like to see it destroyed” The question being, in 25 words or less why should you win a ticket to a preview screening of Battle: Los Angeles? A bit much maybe, probably not as I was sent a ticket within a few days.
So I went to see another big, dumb popcorn movie, laden with special effects shots of landmarks being destroyed… about time as we haven’t had one of those for a few months.
Set a few months into the future in August of this year, meteorites crash to earth in the ocean near several major cities. It’s soon apparent that they are alien landing craft part of the first wave of invasion.
The aliens have taken over their other world targets, but L.A. still has a chance as for some reason these aliens are intent on a ground attack and have no air support..!!! Even though they’ve flown across the universe to attack earth, for its water apparently, maybe… who really cares? That’s not important, what is important are our heroes.
Enter our heroes, a group of marines led by Staff Sergeant Nantz (Aaron Eckhart) who is retiring due to his entire platoon having being wiped out during his last mission, issues there perhaps? Stay posted. His commanding officer is fresh out of officer training… oh, okay… I hope he can handle actual combat and not lose it. One of the marines in the platoon is the Brother of a marine killed in the aforementioned disastrous mission… oh dear, how will this end?
Their mission, to save some civilians trapped in a Police station in an area of the city that will be bombed within 3 hours… that’s the plan you see, as the aliens have no air support and are coming in over land from the ocean, we’ll bomb the shit out of them.
So it’s all set up: a small group behind enemy lines on a mission against the clock…
Our heroes are soon ambushed and few guys we never got to know are killed. A rookie kills an alien and the team meet up with intelligence sergeant Santos (Michelle Rodriguez) her own platoon has also been wiped out. Seriously if you’re not a well known actor, don’t go to war!
Anyway, our heroes find the Police station and save the civilians, but no, the helicopter they called in to rescue them is shot down. Anyway, no time to ponder, our heroes capture an alien, cut it up to find out how to kill it (It’s at this point in time that Bridget Moynihan delivers the best line in the entire film, to say anymore would ruin it for anyone wanting to see the movie) they steal a bus and plan to drive back to safety… well, not before a load of action, killing more aliens, losing the last few unknown actors from their platoon, changing their plan and discovering how to bring down the ‘aerial’ drones… Wait a moment, what do you mean by ‘aerial’..? I thought the aliens had no air support..? Moving on… There’s more action, our heroes save the civilians and are granted some rest… but no, they head back into action to save the day… but not before those ‘issues’ from earlier are raised. It’s time for some talking and it’s here that the film falls into more cliché territory with some awful dialogue between Nantz and his remaining crew. It slows down what to be fair up until that point has been a pretty fast paced dumb fun action flick. There’s the big finale to come but you can probably work out what’s going to happen. Although not much mention is made of how they’ll combat what surely must be some gigantic spaceships hovering just outside of our atmosphere…
The effects are good but so they should be on a $70million dollar budget; the alien spacecraft look great, the aliens look ridiculous. The script is a grab bag of a lot of what we’ve seen before although to be fair, the actors do well with the awful dialogue. The camera work is handheld and may be off-putting for a lot of people. It looks like director Jonathan Liebesman has tried to make it look like ‘Black Hawk Down’ or ‘Battle for Haditha’ but this clearly isn’t as good as those films. He was previously responsible for the awful ‘Darkness Falls’ and ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning’ which was a well shot but pointless film. Next up is a sequel to ‘Clash of the Titans’ and on this evidence he’s perfectly suited to it.
In comparison to similar alien invasion movies; it’s not as good as Transformers (which in itself isn’t a compliment), but better than the awful Transformers sequel, better than Skyline, but it did have seven times the budget… and certainly not in the same league as the excellent District 9.
Was it worth it? Well, I did see it for free, so yes. Oh, and after seeing this I make no apologies for my ticket winning statement about L.A.
Quality: 2 out of 5 stars
Was it fun: 2½ out of 5 stars