I went to into Battle: Los Angeles with high expectations. I have been
hooked on the movie’s prospect since the first teaser trailer. The mixed looks of Black Hawk Down
and District 9 blend perfectly in the short glimpses we have seen.
In reality, Battle: Los Angeles is more like Black Hawk Down meets Independence Day while being
shot like District 9. Although the story is not as strong as I had
hoped, Battle: Los Angeles delivers the good you expect – lots of
high-octane alien action realized through superb visual effects.
Much like other recent alien invasion flick Skyline, Battle: Los Angeles
opens in the middle of the action, reeling you in just enough to wet
your beak before it jumps back 24 hours prior to first contact. Exactly
like Black Hawk Down, Battle: Los Angeles quickly introduces you to a ton of
characters – all of whom are indistinguishable when dressed in full
military garb. Being based on a historical event, Black Hawk Down
warranted the use of a high count of characters. Battle: Los Angeles, however, simply creates the character chaos for its own indulgence.
As the characters are rolled out, it becomes painfully obvious that you
are getting nothing but the typical and familiar group of Jarheads.
There’s the 17-year-old rookie, the guy days away from getting married, the new
lieutenant on his maiden voyage, the about-to-retire seasoned leader,
the begrudging brother of a soldier who fell under the leader’s
command, the tougher-than-she looks female who outshines most of the men in combat, and so on. Although placed in positions that attempt to do so, you
never once begin to care for a single character.
After crash-landing just off Los Angeles’ shore, the hostile alien
fighters make their way inland. With their unique weapons, advancing
forward is done with ease. In no time at all, the alien forces push their way over a mile inland from the Santa Monica beach. But when a distress call is
received from within that lost ground, our group of soldiers is given
three hours to make their way through hostile territory, rescue the
civilians and make it back to safe territory before the Air Force
firebombs the “infested” area.
I am okay with rescue attempts in movies like these, but when
twenty-something troops are sent in to save five civilians when Air Force could be firebombing and containing the small, highly concentrated area of
alien forces, I don’t buy it. They would have bombed the hell out of
that area at the first possible chance, cutting their loss of five civilians. But as much as I don’t believe
that story decision, I will ignore it for entertainment’s sake.
Everything that happens behind enemy lines is extremely intense.
The first half of Battle: Los Angeles focuses on getting to the
civilians, the second half focuses on getting back to safety. As they make
their way to a military stronghold, with each alien encounter the
ante is upped, making the second half of the movie far more intense and
entertaining than the first. New alien weapons and technology is introduced with each battle leading up to its huge climax.
Marketing for Battle: Los Angeles has kept its plot and story fairly
secret. But while nearly nothing has been said to spoil it, far too much
has been shown that spoils it. For example (possible spoiler if you haven’t
seen a single spot for Battle: Los Angeles), as we follow our troops to
their first briefing of the battle strategies, their commander informs them
that because the alien forces don’t have air support, our Air Force will
easily be able to destroy their offensive line. Well, anyone who has
seen a single spot for the movie knows that the aliens do, in fact, have air support. Although our central characters are shocked when their airships are revealed,
it’s no surprise to us at all. This same type of example occurs at the climax
of the film. The characters have no idea what’s to come, but we sure do
because of the unique images seared into our minds from the previews.
At first, I felt somewhat disappointed with Battle: Los Angeles. How
could a movie this cool-looking have so many flaws? But I quickly
realized that despite those problems, I got exactly what I wanted from
it – action, explosions and aliens. Battle: Los Angeles is a standard
summer blockbuster, mindless fun.
Photo credit: Çolumbia Pictures