Inevitably every year, a film regarding a worldwide alien invasion or the apocalypse surfaces. Sometimes they’re done well and sometimes they’re so atrocious that their failure is almost ironically apocalyptic.
Fortunately for Battle: Los Angeles director, Jonathan Liebesman, his film didn’t hit on the Richter scale of bad. However, let’s just say it’s not good either.
The film follows your classic alien invasion premise: some unknown extraterrestrial force has touched down, this time in the form of a giant meteor shower, then you’ve got to get your army together, who are clearly untrained for this type of combat. After all the initial chaos and destruction the story has gone from global to local as the film focuses on several main characters and their fight for survival. Battle: Los Angeles centers on a group of marines who are sent to rescue civilians trapped in a Santa Monica police station. The catch? They only have three hours to save the civilians and make it to a controlled safety zone because in only three hours time, the army is going to level all of Santa Monica with bombs. The storyline seems like a suspenseful videogame.
Enter Aaron Eckhart, Sergeant Michael Nance. After being dismissed from the marines just hours before the attack, he is forced to become the head of the operation. Nance is plagued with guilt from a failed mission in the middle east where he lost some of his men. The other marines are wary of him as a leader because of this. Shortly after the extraterrestrial meteor shower all hell breaks loose as thousands of gray figures appear in the distance. Up close the gray figures,aliens, seem to be half machine half creature. They are pretty disappointing when compared to the classic alien from Alien or even the extraterrestrials in District 9. This film is less about the aliens and more about blowing shit up in the vein of Michael Bay.
What follows is a series of cliches and one liners often comparing Nance to the cavalier, John Wayne. The story is intact with a pregnant woman, stubborn marines, children in enemy lines, courageous civilians, and tough girl Michelle Rodriguez. Liebesman did try to be unique by creating a kind of docudrama. Nearly the entire film is shot on a handheld camera. Automatically the image of Cloverfield comes to mind, but it’s not very similar. The film is far more sophisticated technically as it contains a plethora of aerial shots that show the destruction of Los Angeles. It’s a pity that the characterizations are lacking and the lovestory is nonexistent.
In the end, the acting is subpar, but the film has its thrilling moments. There doesn’t seem to be any political subtext but of course, this could be argued. Basically what we have here is a two hour long, guns blazing battle scene.