Monday, March 14, 2011

Battle: Los Angeles - Review

I am not sure what I thought Battle: Los Angeles would be. I hoped that it wouldn't suck. I hoped that it would provide a good start to this years blockbusters in larger part because this year has been kind of weak compared to years past so far. I hoped that it would offer something different in the alien invasion market -- two out of three ain't bad.

By now, you will have all seen the trailers and TV spots. You will all have an idea of what this film is about. Aaron Eckhart (The Core, The Dark Knight) plays Marine Staff Sergeant Nantz, who has had a respected and distinguished career. Following 20 years in the service, and a disastrous campaign in Afghanistan, where a number of troops died under his command, for which he is seen to be to blame by many, Eckhart has decided to call it a day and become a civilian. It is on this day of all days that the aliens invade.

The film throws us straight into action, with Eckhart's Marines flying into the battle zone, with some breathtaking and startling views of the LA coastline under attack from the aliens. We then rewind 24 hours to show Nantz's resignation, and get introduced to a number of other soldiers, including the brother of one of the troops who died under Eckhart's command, who will be serving in the battle.

Whilst on training maneuvers the troop re told that "all hands are on deck" and they are needed back at base. When they return it is clear that the invasion has begun, and the troops are given a rundown of their mission. Once flown to the F.O.B (Forward Operating Base) the troop are sent on a mission to extract a number of civilians trapped in a police station located in Santa Monica, which is due to be bombed in 3 hours.

The film follows the troop as they attempt to locate the civilians, and return them to the F.O.B. for extraction to safety by air. As with all movies of this nature, what follows is a number of situations where the Marines encounter the hostile invasion, both before and after they locate the civilians.

So what do I think of the movie. Ok, well first of all it didn't suck, I did enjoy it, although maybe not as much as I hoped. There is plenty of action, which I suppose is to be expected of a movie like this, however I did think that maybe there was a little too much action. Why is this a problem? Well to be honest by the time the troop get to the big stand off at the end, you have already had your fill of explosions and face offs, some of which are bigger and more dangerous than the last battle.

The other thing I didn't like was that due to "shaky cam" and the amount of smoke from various bombs and fights, it is difficult to see the aliens and their movements. Alot of trouble had gone into the design of these creatures, only for us to have shaky glimpses.

I had hoped that this would offer a smart and understated alternative to the alien invasion genre. I was hoping that Eckhart and his troops would represent a part of the battle, with their involvement being a small part of the overall picture, as we see them simply try to survive and save the civilians, but without giving spoilers this wasn't the case. They become more and more involved in the defense of Los Angeles.

So I had hoped for a Jarhead or Hurt Locker, but we ended up with a butch updated Independence Day. Still, it is better than Skyline and a good start to this year's blockbusters! Here's hoping Thor, Captain America, Green Lantern et al can pick up the baton!

Rating 3.5 out of 5

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