Battle: Los Angeles Directed by: Jonathan Liebesman Cast: Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez, Bridget Moynahan Running Time: 1 hr 56 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: March 11, 2011
PLOT: Marines, led by Staff Sgt. Michael Nantz (Eckhart), face off against an alien invasion in Los Angeles.
WHO'S IT FOR? You want your alien movie to be more military based, but you still want your melodrama fix. Also, you don't mind a shaky camera.
EXPECTATIONS: Special effects, mindless action and amusing one-liners. What else can you expect from an alien invasion flick centered on Los Angeles?
Aaron Eckhart as Staff Sgt. Michael Nantz: Ever since Eckhart and all his bravado appeared in Thank You For Smoking, I've been hooked. Given the right material, he can command a room. He's also able to command soldiers even though Nantz's last mission didn't go so well (that's putting it mildly). Immediately, when we learn about his background, it's obvious Nantz will end up in charge. That's just one of the things Battle: Los Angeles makes too obvious. That doesn't mean we won't go on a mission with him. From the beginning, we're in. Who doesn't root for a guy trying to keep up with the young soldiers? Score: 8
Michelle Rodriguez as Sgt. Elena Santos: I let out an "argh" when she showed up. Yeah, that's not a good sign. In fact, I think she's the only one that would make me do that right now. I get it, she's sassy and tough. Tough and sassy. I assume we have enough footage of her with this type of character, so can't we just digitally insert her going forward? That way, I can try to play the game of "guess what movie role this is actual from" when Rodriguez shows up. You know, instead of just rolling my eyes. Score: 3
Civilians: There's three little kids, a guy who tries to play hero (Michael Peña), and of course a veterinarian (Bridget Moynahan) who is crushing on the Staff Sergeant. When the word "veterinarian" is uttered, there's an awful feeling of melodrama entering into our military thriller. I could have done without all aspects of the civilians. Mainly, because they never made me feel like one of them. I couldn't identify, which should have been the point with inserting "real" people into this film. Score: 4
Marines: We get the back story for each Marine on this mission. One is just a kid, one has a wife who is pregnant, one is getting married ... you noticed I didn't use any of their names, right? Well, each one is introduced with their name on the screen but that goes away ... I needed a big neon name tag for the entire movie. This is mainly because of the SCS (Shaky Camera Syndrome), but we'll get to that in SIGHTS. Score: 6
TALKING: Guys busting balls, and then it's a tight focus on the mission. After the civilians show up, sigh. Passionate over-the-top speeches at a burnt down airport recall the bad parts of Independence Day. Yes, there are good parts of that movie. Score: 5
SIGHTS: It's a good looking destruction of Los Angeles. For those "I hate LA" people, you'll be pleased the city is in ruins. The aliens and their weaponry look good as well. So, what's the problem? This is one of the WORST offenders of SCS (Shaky Camera Syndrome). There are an insane amount of close-ups and there is an almost constant movement with the camera. I highly recommend sitting in the back row if you see this in the theater. Trust me. It's a real shame to, because I kept wanting to see this world. Score: 5
SOUNDS: It was better when it was silent. Yeah, it's not just the dialogue that ends up pushing the melodrama, it's also the musical score. Score: 4
BEST SCENE: Under attack for the first time, the Marines are running through houses trying to make sense of the enemy. It's a war movie, that just happens to have aliens in it.
ENDING: Reload. I liked it. I could see this becoming a TV show from where it ended. But, yes, it's true, I was hoping there would be one less soldier that survived. But then again, that would mean we would have had an awful, painful, over passionate death scene for her. Maybe this was for the best. Yes, I'm talking about Rodriguez.
QUESTIONS: Why the shaky camera? Why? Seriously, why? And did they really say the ocean levels were already being depleted? Yeah, that seemed a little soon.
REWATCHABILITY: If the first half was on TV, I'd sit through it again. If the second half was on, I'd quickly change the channel.
Keeping it real is hard. Just ask Snoop Dogg or Sean P. Diddy. Battle: Los Angeles has the same problem. For the first half of the film, it's a 'Marine on a mission' flick. They just happen to be fighting aliens. It's not Black Hawk Down, but it's closer to that then you would think. We've seen better military battles, but I truly felt for the life of a soldier and how intense war can be. That's very impressive that an "alien movie" could make me do that.
Unfortunately, we don't have any new territory besides aliens joining together with realistic battles. We have a leader nervous during his first battle, no hope in sight, and many other cases of melodrama. That's in the second half, and after establishing a tone of realism, the melodrama really stands out. After the tone shift, anyone could die and I wouldn't care. OK, anyone but Eckhart. I'll go to war with him. Sorry, let me fix that. I'd watch him go to war again.
FINAL SCORE: 6/10