I started seeing the promotion for Battle LA starting back at Comic Con 2010. Once again the world is under attack by malevolent aliens bent on the destruction of the human race. As much as a sucker I am for these type of movies, I was pretty turned off after the recent mediocre SKYLINE. However, the trailers looked promising so I had to investigate this for myself knowing full well that I might live to regret it. The fact that RottenTomatoes gave it a dreadful 33% was not a good omen either.
As expected, there is not much in the way of story. Battle LA opens to a number of very brief vignettes of young Marines oblivious of the destruction that lays ahead of them in the next couple of hours. The story focuses on grizzled veteran Staff Sergeant Nantz played by Aaron Eckhart. Nantz is of course just weeks away from retirement- why do alien invasions come at the worst possible times? What is first perceived as a peculiar meteor shower is quickly revealed to be a full scale assault on the coastal cities of the world. With the well being of American Idol and the Kardashians now at risk, the Marines mobilize to protect and serve.
To put it simply, this is Independence Day meets Black Hawk Down. While we get glimpses of the overall Battle of LA, it mainly focuses on the street-to-steet skirmishes of one marine squad. This might have been more aptly named, Battle Santa Monica since none of the movie is actually fought in downtown LA. But with this aside, I was pleasantly surprised with Battle LA. It has what you come to expect from this kind of ‘copy of a copy’ action flick. There are ample 2-D characters, a simplistic story lines, and plenty of overly machismo moments. Because of this, the most you can expect is to just to have fun- and that I did. The action is seriously crazy and ridiculously intense. There are some superficial subplots to endure but there is plenty of action sequences to make up for it. The claustrophobic street combat is very reminiscent to Black Hawk Down where it tries to convey ordinary young soldiers being forced to face extraordinary circumstances. Sure there are some silly plot devices, but if you don’t fixate on them, then you will have a great time. The effects are fantastic and war torn LA landscape is very convincing. Although some might say some of those LA streets are already in those dilapidated conditions.
Aaron Eckhart, most notable for his recent portrayal as Two Face in Dark Knight, does a fine job but nothing to add to the legacy of alien invasion heroes. The rest of the large cast is very forgettable and with no one stand out in their performances. Poor Michelle Rodriguez- she seems perpetually stuck in the tough military girl roles (Avatar most recently). While the action in these types of movies like Black Hawk Down, are very well done, they are all missing the ‘heart’ that we experienced in Saving Private Ryan. But Jonathan Liebesman is no Steven Spielberg either so don’t expect Oscar level performances.
Overall Battle LA was a win. It isn’t an original story but has some creative moments that are worth experiencing. If you would love an alien invasion story done a la Black Hawk Down then you will love this. I don’t agree with the majority of the critics on RottenTomatoes that gave it a 33%. Perhaps the critics were offended that their home town was being trashed. I give Battle LA 3 Babbles out of 5.