Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Battle: Los Angeles

Year: 2011
Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Cast: Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez, Bridget Moynahan, Ramon Rodriguez, Michael Pena, Ne-Yo

Plot: Aliens have invaded the earth, and cities worldwide fall one by one. In Los Angeles, soon-to-be-retired Marine Staff Sgt Nantz leads his men into a suicide mission to rescue civilians as the aliens attack.

Review: One reviewer said that Battle: Los Angeles is Black Hawk Down meets Independence Day. I think he hit the nail right on the head. Battle L.A. is essentially a combination of the best things you remember about those two films i.e. nonstop chaos and wanton destruction. Along with it, you also get the cliched characters and familiar American gung ho-ism that were very obvious in those two films as well.

But if you think for one second that this movie isn't worth a watch, think again. There are times when one just wants to have balls out fun and not think too much about plot, subplots and logic, and in that regard, Battle L.A. serves it straight up. If you're looking for something intelligent like District 9, you won't get it here. But Jonathan Liebesman is smart enough to focus on the human characters instead, and how their determination to survive is imperative in this situation.

Character wise, they're all too familiar. Marine with a wife and a child on the way. Marine with a dead brother he wants to live up to. Marine with the jokes. Marine with the bravado etc. You already know they'll perish later on, so none of them really stand out. Except of course, Aaron Eckhart's Staff Sgt Nantz. He is basically the glue that holds the film together. Eckhart proved himself in The Dark Knight and he does it again here. Nantz is a leader who led his men to their deaths in his last tour, and the guilt weighs heavily on him. Now he is entrusted with a new group of men, some who knew of his last tour, and are torn between trusting him, or not. Eckhart successfully brings out the best and worst of Nantz's emotions throughout the film.

Michelle Rodriguez is well.....Michelle Rodriguez. Ramon Rodriguez, the annoying guy from Transformers 2 gets to be serious this time around, and he's not too shabby here. Moynahan and Pena are quite wasted as the civilians the Marines rescue, not getting enough screen time.

The CGI on display leans more towards District 9 than Independence Day, and is reminiscent of the climax of the former, where lots of explosions and gun battles take place. But overall, it bloody works. Liebesman keeps the film at a quick pace, not allowing the film to stall too long, giving the audience sequence after sequence of destruction, which thankfully isn't as mind-numbing as Black Hawk Down, and a lot more fun to watch.

As far as alien invasion films go, this isn't the best one out there. But after the awful Skyline, Battle: L.A. is just what we need to satiate our appetite for alien movies. At least till Super 8 comes out later. (4/5)

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