Review: Battle: Los Angeles

2011/03/10 02:06:05 +00:00 | Jonathan James

Battle: Los Angeles is one of the most anticipated sci-fi movies coming out this year, but your enjoyment of this film is going to heavily depend on the expectations you have going in. Is this a gritty sci-fi war film or an entertaining popcorn movie? Read this spoiler-free review to find out.

Battle: Los Angeles is directed by Jonathan Liebesman (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, Darkness Falls) and stars Aaron Eckhart as a Marine staff sergeant. If you’ve seen any alien invasion movies before, you’ll be right at home with the set-up. The movie quickly introduces a handful of characters whose lives are changed when alien invade earth. In this case, the characters happen to be a platoon of trained Marines and we get to see ground level urban warfare instead of the usual aircraft and tank battles we’ve seen in other films.

The trailers give you the feel that this is a gritty alien invasion movie from a military point of view, and Battle: Los Angeles delivers on part of this. Once the invasion begins and the Marines are deployed, the filming style goes from the standard look of the opening to a grittier modern war look. The fight scenes are frenzied and close up, really keeping your interest throughout the film. It is also refreshing to see an alien invasion film that focuses on a different core group of characters. We never see scenes of a president ordering missile launches or a cockpit view of a plane engaged in air-to-air combat, and the lack of these standard invasion movie elements really helps give you a sense of the unknown that these Marines are experiencing.

As far as the special effects are concerned, the alien soldier designs are unique and the computer effects are well done in general, but that lack of a global view of the war is a double edged sword in this case. There isn’t anything wrong with what they show, but as the film focuses on a ground view and not the global war, we don’t really get to see these aliens and their ships in detail, leaving much to be desired.

While the fight scenes and effects are quite interesting, this is probably not the sci-fi war movie some of you may have been expecting. This isn’t Blackhawk Down or Saving Private Ryan with aliens in it. Instead of a gritty and realistic war movie, this is like Independence Day for the Call of Duty generation. While the film focuses on this Marine platoon, it really does follow the disaster film formula that we’ve seen in movies such as Independence Day and countless others. There are kids that need to be saved, there is the obligatory dog survival, and the heroes keep pressing on, even against extraordinary odds.

It isn’t that Battle: Los Angeles doesn’t take itself seriously, but it does it in the way a disaster film would, making sure that this is still a feel-good movie. You can definitely tell that this was created as a popcorn movie for a mass audience when you hear one of the main characters yelling “They are going down like bowling pins!!!” as they are shoot alien soldiers. While we do get a close-up view of the war, this is targeted to teens and a casual audience, and does not take itself too seriously as a war film. Battle: Los Angeles is an entertaining movie and many people will enjoy it, but it definitely feels like a video game.

Now, this film may not be what everyone expected, but this isn’t a bad film by any means. There are scenes in Battle: Los Angeles that really work and all of the firefight scenes are fantastic. In terms of acting, all of the acting is acceptable, but Aaron Eckhart really stands out and holds this movie together. Out of all the character backstory that is introduced, he is really the only character that feels like a real person and he delivers a great performance that helps ground the film in reality.

Battle: Los Angeles is a fun and entertaining alien invasion movie that is a good start for the upcoming blast of summer movies. This will definitely appeal to teenagers, and families can see this movie together and have a good time. Just don’t go expecting a super realistic and gritty sci-fi war film.

Enjoying Battle: Los Angeles really comes down to your expectations, so remember that this is a PG-13 movie and that they are not going for a swear-filled bloodbath. This is a film that you could watch in the same night with Independence Day, War of the Worlds (Tom Cruise), and Skyline. As long as you know what you are getting into, you should be able to check your brain at the door, sit in your seat, and enjoy the ride.

Score: 2.5 / 5