'Battle: Los Angeles'
(Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez, et al / DVD / PG-13 / 2011 / Sony Pictures)
Overview: A Marine platoon fights to prevent the city of Los Angeles from being overtaken by a race of highly advanced alien invaders in this epic sci-fi action thriller from director Jonathan Liebesman (THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE BEGINNING) and producer Neal H. Moritz (I AM LEGEND, FAST & FURIOUS).
DVD Verdict: Getting straight into the heart of the matter, a battle wages between us and the mighty aliens and soon becomes too much for us to handle - too massive a job to undertake. With only 3 hours until they drop a ton of bombs to take out Santa Monica, Nantz and his new commander Lt. Martinez (Ramon Rodriguez) are assigned to take their men in to rescue a group stranded in a police station and to send back intel along the way.
The men are dropped down but it isn't long before their opponent's fire on them, leaving them with initial casualties and searching for a safe haven if just for a moment. The Lt. finds himself dazed and confused (a stereotype of most war films where a college educated leader stresses under real fire only to have the 2nd in command get him on track). It's up to the Sgt. to get them moving once more and heading for the station.
Along the way they encounter the remnants of another platoon who have been hit harder than they have. Regrouping and joining forces, they head for the police station in the hope that the survivors are still alive.
Their hopes weren't in vain once they arrive to find a few civilians still alive. The officers there are gone but their mission continues with just a short amount of time left to rescue these people, get back and possibly provide the military with enough information that they can find a way to repel these invaders.
All that in less than half the movie. Due to the aliens as the invaders, most people will view this as a science fiction film. In reality this is definitely a war picture. The heroics of the men involved, the gung ho attitude of these Marines, the stereotypes seen in characters have been a staple for years. Many of the plotlines can be found in numerous war films. In any event it just doesn't matter. Even if these ideas and characters have been seen before, they still provide an entertaining film.
The film also offers an inspiring look at the military as well. After years of tarnishing those in the military either as post traumatic stress victims, baby killers or goofballs who violate every human right possible, we're presented here with a group of professionals who are trained to defend every person they can, to rescue those in need and to take on any hostile enemy that might attack the U.S., or in this case the Earth. There are moments when you feel a swelling in your chest as these good men and women do their best against the worst of odds to protect and serve this country. It's rare to see in today's movies and nice for a change.
There are no stand out performances in this film. The entire cast does a great job depicting what the possible end of the world due to invasion might be like. There is fear on their faces when confronting an unknown enemy. There is joy when they can save someone. And there is triumph when they win any small battle that they can as they try and get to a safe location.
The effects are fantastic offering what appears to be the new look of alien spaceships and weaponry. For me these crafts seemed reminiscent of the space ship seen in DISTRICT 9. And the aliens themselves seem like a twisted compilation of the classic Predator and half a dozen robots seen of late. But it's not just these two items that offer the best effects. It's the scenes of devastation, of Los Angeles in flames, a burning relic of what it once was. That is the effect that sticks with you.
While BATTLE: LOS ANGELES isn't quite a feel good movie it does offer hope and inspiration. And the entire vibe that surrounds the Marines in this film, as stated earlier, is one that gives you hope that should something like this ever occur, there will be someone there standing ready to take on all comers and to defend us all. This is a movie that might be too violent for children, but will be an entertaining night at home for all others. [MT] This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.40:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Behind The Battle
Building the Aliens
Acting with Aliens
Shooting the Aliens
Preparing for Battle
Creating L.A. in LA