Battle: LA (2011)

Posted by Maria Mills | Posted on 9:47 AM | Posted in


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Movie Review written by: Born Movie Reviews
RT Critics Rating: 3.5/10

Born Movie Reviews' Rating: 2/10

BATTLE: LA (2011) - Jonathan Liebesman

Everywhere in commercial advertisement, the military science fiction war film has been labeled as "Battle: LA". Battle, colon, LA. However, international releases promote the film as "World Invasion: Battle Los Angeles". When the film opens, and the title appears, the title is read "Battle Los Angeles". No colon. No LA. No World Invasion. Just "Battle Los Angeles".

Just decide already and make up your mind.

"Alien film": When these two excessively heard words are present in a movie's summary, public expectations are common to fall like a brick. Explosions everywhere. Nothing but visual effects and CGI-eye candy. However, here is a movie called Battle: LA which instead takes the alien invasion and narrowly presents it strictly through the perspective of a platoon. The film is set in modern day Los Angeles and follows a retiring Marine Staff Sergeant (Aaron Eckhart) who must go back into the line of duty to lead a platoon of US Marines during a global alien invasion. Unfortunately, this is not only an excruciating film, but also in a way, a recruitment film. This is a piece designed best for anyone who can shed a tear when the soldiers form a rebellion, fight back for our freedom, win, and yell "Hoo-rah" for an hour. How "patriotic".

So the opening of the film, quickly and atrociously, establishes each of the Marine characters. For a tedious time, the film attempts to convince us with the personalities of each character, similar to the cliche platoon group in World War II movies, but much worse. With choppy dialogue, the character development becomes weak and extremely contrived. In the end, we no longer care. Just get them out there and fight the aliens. However, once the platoon actually leaves, from that point on, Battle: LA turns itself into a big-screen first person shooter. The camerawork is extremely unsteady, like District 9 and The Hurt Locker combined with no actual good cinematography. The amount of sudden unnecessary zoom-in and panning shots is shockingly vast.

The key to warlike action films lie within other masterpieces like James Cameron's Aliens or even Starship Troopers. The set pieces need to be spaced out in order for the audience to breathe. During these soothing moments, the movie takes these times to build the characters and develop them until the final climax. Cameron's Aliens did all of the above and beyond. Despite its heart-stopping intensity, it calms down at the right moments so we can finally shake the dirt off our shoulders and say, "Okay, they're safe. Now what?" Here in Battle: LA, there is no humor in it. There are no surprises in it. It is all formulaic noise that bear surprisingly violent scenes and frightening moments involving children in peril. The editing is lazily done, and the fighting as a whole visually makes no sense. In a good movie like Saving Private Ryan, we are completely aware of where the heroes are, and where the opponents are, and how they fire on each other. We can visually see the chemistry and the geometric makeup of the scenery. In a chaotic disorder like Battle: LA, the frames are filled with flashes and explosions that are constantly loud and also exceptionally brief.

Despite the racket it hurls, Battle: LA does contain decent visual effects as well as satisfactory acting by Aaron Eckhart. However, never once in the movie was Eckhart truly portrayed as a war figure. He was portrayed like a superhero, a character who is never shown injured once and always succeeds in what he tries to do. The rest of the platoon, when the action begins, are hard to identify and since their personalities are barely fleshed out, we are conflicted to not care when any of them loses in battle.

The aliens should not be talked about at all. They are barely seen throughout, and the method of finally displaying their images is a spin-off of the way Cloverfield reveals the monster. The ship designs are exceedingly dumb. There is no skeletal design for them and they come in all shapes and sizes. Even for a mediocre alien film like Jon Favreau's Cowboys & Aliens, all the alien scout ships were identical, except the final mining ship. In Battle: LA, the ships seem to have been assembled by either an artist who makes junk sculptures or even a destructive tornado blowing through the junkyard itself. The aliens as well as their ships are aggressively ugly and cluttered, the final product being a sketch so unclear, we have no sense of what they are.

Battle: LA is, simply put, 90 minutes of non-stop wall-to-wall action to the point that the experience in watching the combat becomes numbing. It is a dull, visual cacophony that thinks is the "coolest thing in the world". The script, as lousy as it is, tries to contain tense fast paced dialogue. In a way, they are fine. But in its entirety, it is appalling. Director Liebesman wants us to feel trapped in the middle of the action, which begins as an interesting concept. He wants us to feel the heat of combat on our cheeks. Unfortunately, he also wants us to barf up our popcorn, with quaking camerawork that is extremely intolerable and by ridicule that Battle: LA can excessively jackhammer our nerves. In conclusion, Battle: LA is like watching somebody else play a video game. The worst part about it is the controller is not in your hands.


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