I’m a huge fan of movies involving extra terrestrials, [Ed. – ET for Life!] and there here has been a whole slew of them in the past year. None though stood out to me, or left a real lasting impression. I either disliked the aliens in them, or the cast of human characters trying to survive against them. Out of District 9, Monsters, and Skyline – I really only took a liking to District 9. Monsters didn’t show me enough aliens and Skyline had too many idiotic humans in it. But then I watched Battle LA.
Battle: Los Angeles was basically a simple storyline with excellent visuals. But being simple didn’t by any means make it a terrible movie. By simple I mean “Aliens are here killing people. We had better kick their asses.” which makes up pretty much 85% of the movie, but all the fire fights between the marines and aliens never wore thin for me. It was spread out and the scenes in between gave chances (albeit sparse) for character development. They also gave a nice overview of the characters at the beginning.
The cast was pretty rounded, very well put together. You get to see Ramon Rodriguez in a not so annoying role as a young commanding officer, as opposed to his vomit-inducing portrayal of Leo Spitz in the crap pile that was Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
Even Michelle Rodriguez took a departure from her normal role as “Female Hardass Character who Yells a lot” in to a more realistic Air Force intel specialist who can fire a rifle. Still no ‘Damsel in Distress’, but something different for her. And then our hero of the movie, Aaron Eckhart. Eckhart was solid and believable as Marine Corp Staff Sargent Nantz, who was actually on his way out of the Corps when the alien aggressors launched their invasion. It’s his experience that gets our cast of characters moving.
The cast also includes a great young ensemble of actors as the grunts, including Cory Hardrict (Gran Turino), Noel Fisher (Terriers), and Will Rothhaar (Jack Frost). Hell, we even had child actor Bryce Cass, who was better than twenty Jake Lloyd‘s could have ever been!
Now I’m expecting a lot of people to ‘rabble rabble‘ about how cliché and melodramatic Eckhart’s couple of speeches to the troops are, but personally I had no problem with them. In terms of melodrama Independence Day still takes the cake on that one. And while I may feel the different about Battle: Los Angeles in about ten years, right now, I thought it was well done and heartfelt.
The movie was shot in a familiar way, the closest thing I can think of being Black Hawk Down, in terms of the urban warfare and house-to-house fighting. The camera utilized the ever-popular ‘shaky sense of urgency’ during the battle scenes, making you feel like you were in the middle of a firefight, actually watching the aliens landing in L.A. And their drone ships hovering all about the war-torn landscape of Los Angeles gave me goosebumps.
The aliens themselves overall were done pretty well. You only catch glimpses of them at first as they ambush our brave marines and seem nearly unkillable. After a certain point though, a weakness is obviously discovered, and then it’s game on.
The aliens reasoning for attacking Earth (which I won’t spoil) may initially sound stupid, but makes perfect sense once you think about it. If anyone out there is a fan of military movies, and alien invasions then this movie is the best of both worlds for you. Good pacing, great cast, and realistic looking effects.
It’s also very refreshing to see it win the weekend box office up against a variety of animated kids films and a Red Riding Hood-Twilight hybrid with a $36 million rake in. (Box Office Mojo)