#50 / 365 – ‘Battle: Los Angeles’ – 116 mins
Cinema Challenge #22 / 115
After decades of documented UFO sightings being written off as crackpot, alien invasion becomes a frightening reality in 2011 as earth is besieged by extra-terrestrial armies. As some of the world’s greatest cities fall at the hands of these interlopers, L.A. is the last battleground standing. Now it’s up to Marine staff sergeant Michael Nantz (Aaron Eckhart) and his platoon – including technical sergeant Elena Santos (Michelle Rodriguez) – to take on the enemy in action the likes of which they’ve never seen before. As men, women and children alike run for their lives, and cityscapes are destroyed in the blink of an eye, it’s up to Nantz to mount an effective defense against earth’s attackers, before L.A. succumbs, just as all the other cities have.
If Activision was to sign off on the rights for Hollywood to make Call of Duty the movie, ‘Battle : Los Angeles’ would be it in an instant, the only difference here is the marines are battling alien forces instead of humans, don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with that, as I have thoroughly enjoyed playing the game myself on countless occasions. Overall and in the few positives I can give Battle: Los Angeles, I did enjoy it from the same kickin’ ass in the action department entertainment value that Call of Duty did. Apologies if the following negatives appear over the top, but sometimes things need to be said.
Firstly why do film-makers insist on using this hand-held camera, where it is constantly jerky at least when Spielberg perfectly innovated this technique with ‘Saving Private Ryan’ , he did it with style, here at times it’s a complete mess and in a few of the early scenes you can barely make out what’s being projected.
To say I was looking forward to this film after months of unforgettable first class trailers was a massive understatement (just ask my friends of Cheltenham Film Club). From it we were led to believe we were getting an atmospheric plot filled sci-fi epic, we didn’t. What we did get was a bunch of marines running around blowing stuff up, whilst spewing out dialogue which has literally received a cut and paste job from other movies. Performance wise Aaron Eckhart, a talented actor with great range and our hero here saves the film and gives the it some much-needed heart and this is displayed in a poignant if clichéd battle pep talk moment a third of the way through.
For Sony to give the reigns on $100,000,000 budget film to inexperienced director Jonathan Liebesman the man who brought us the quickly forgettable “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning” was either completely stupid or very brave, to me it was very much the case of the aforementioned and sadly with this film now under his belt and the ‘Wrath of the Titans’ on the horizon, I can only see his career going into a complete demise. One area he does do shine good at though is through its visual effects, which ironically Colin and Greg Strause are partly responsible for, the same brothers who brought is “Skyline” remember that? – thankfully this film is infinitely superior to anything that could have mounted to.
Could Battle: Los Angeles been as perfect as District 9? – to which it is being compared. Certainly, if Liebesman and writer Christopher Bertolini had focused more on the story and with the same tension that was created in that highly effective trailer and viral campaign. Unfortunately there is a new-breed of false advertising emerging from within Hollywood where these contrasting trailers and the actual finished article are worlds apart.