Theatrical Review: BATTLE: LOS ANGELES
The director/writer team of Jonathan Liebesman and Christopher Bertolini may not have the lengthy resume that a film the caliber of BATTLE: LOS ANGELES requires to instill confidence in some moviegoers this weekend. That being said, general audiences should find the thrill-a-minute alien invasion film to be an enjoyable time in theaters and a good spring pre-cursor to what should be an exciting summer of action movies.
The film opens in the midst of an aerial assault on Los Angeles, which is already all but completely decimated. All seems lost, and there is seemingly no hope for the city - or mankind in general. Simply put, things do not look good. We then rewind to 24 hours earlier where we are introduced to our cast of characters, a group of Marines who are compiled from the standard characters from any action/war movie. You've got your green teenage rookie, the aging solider in charge with a less-than-stellar reputation, the young up-and-comer who's saying goodbye to his pregnant wife for the day, the soldier who's about to get married, and many other fill in the blank archetypes. They are going about their day while there is a puzzling meteor shower descending on Earth at an alarmingly fast rate. The army is mobilized to help with evacuations along the coast, but before that can happen the military becomes privy to information that is confidential only to military personnel. The secret, however, is out very quickly, as the meteors are slowing down as they drop down to Earth and alien soldiers emerge and then proceed to obliterate everything in sight.
Coming from the same visual FX team (Hydraulx) that worked on SKYLINE, BATTLE: LOS ANGELES is going to have an aura of familiarity on several levels, including some of the same problems. Dialogue in particular is not this film's strength. In fact, at times it's almost laughably bad, and there are some questionable conclusions that the characters come to. Things, such as initially assuming the aliens are a ground support force with no air attack, despite the fact that they are aliens and came to Earth from the air, are simply ridiculous. The bad dialogue never allows the viewer to focus on the performances of the cast. Aaron Eckhart (THE DARK KNIGHT, THANK YOU FOR SMOKING) doesn't turn in one of his greatest performances, and Michelle Rodriguez (AVATAR, S.W.A.T.) turns in almost the exact same performance she's given in almost all of her typecast roles (seriously, can we get her in a rom-com sometime soon?)
But this isn't a film that requires a lot of thought. If you want to watch this film for the aliens, chances are you love movies like INDEPENDENCE DAY, DISTRICT 9, and you may have even liked SKYLINE. If you're a military buff and can appreciate the handheld shooting style of films the like of JARHEAD and THE HURT LOCKER, this film will have a lot of what you as a movie lover like. Fun, great action, and a movie with really only one big flaw, BATTLE: LOS ANGELES is worthy of your attention this weekend, and hopefully is a telling sign of the fun that might be had with the rest of the major action films to come in the next few months.