{2jtab: Movie Review}

Battle: Los Angeles


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2 stars

I love L.A. What other city affords such an enjoyable opportunity to make fun of, as it’s being slowly and methodically dismantled, piece-by-piece by an invading alien force?  The string of potential jokes is endless. For instance, here’s one. The bad news: L.A. is under attack. The good news: L.A. is under attack. Rim shot, please.

Or what about the real-world relevancy of the one involving our heroes who, as they are traveling down the 405 (to escape the aliens), hit a dead-end with nowhere to go?

Or even funnier yet is imagining what all those Hollywood suits and agent-types are doing during an alien attack. Probably scrambling around with Blackberries pressed to their heads trying to close one more last-minute deal before their homes are pulverized into a heap of rubble by a death ray. The scenarios are endless.

As each of these target-rich scenarios plays out in the sci-fi alien invasion flick Battle: Los Angeles, we can’t help but become tickled.  Not only at the fleshy irony of the situations, but also because we soon realize the filmmakers never even recognize the gems they’ve mined. They're too caught up in trying to be a no non-sense, Marine-recruitment war movie, to step back and take a look at the much grander goal of just being an entertainment vehicle. And no, I’m not some left-wing, commie-loving bastard that doesn’t appreciate what our soldiers do for us. While it has its moments as a war movie, it never has fun with the idea that the soldiers are fighting aliens. In other words, all business and no fun make Battle: Los Angeles a dull movie.

One thing Christopher Bertolini’s script does get right, is that it dials down the scope of the worldwide alien invasion to focus on a small squad of Marines and civilians caught up in the overwhelming mayhem. What was initially thought to be an approaching cluster of asteroids, is eventually realized to be a large-scale alien attack organized off the coast of major port cities around the world. We learn via snippets of CNN broadcasts that the globe is under attack by an organized force. A talking-head expert speculates that the invaders are here to colonize the planet for our water. Not our oil, not our coal, plutonium or other power-providing resources we constantly fret over. Our water. A bit of a letdown as we’re never told exactly “why” they need it. Just that they do.

The Marine squad is led by fresh-faced 2nd Lt William Martinez (Ramon Rodriguez) and Marine Staff Sgt. Michael Nantz (Aaron Eckart) who are tasked with rescuing a group of civilians trapped in a Santa Monica police station by a surrounding horde of aliens. The marines must extract the civilians and exit the quadrant before a massive bomb drop is ordered with hopes of killing off the remaining creatures.  They have three hours to complete the mission.

As we follow along with the Marines (shaky-cam and all), we quickly realize they’re easy targets up against a much superior force.  But there’s quite a significant problem with the enemy in that we’re never really able to work up a good ire against these guys. Sure, they’re bad and powerful, and there’s a whole lot of them. But it’s really hard to feel much of anything towards a cgi creature we never really get to see through the mist, smoke and over-shake of the hand-held camera.

One moment is almost effective however, when we see one of the wounded mechanical aliens get dragged to safety by his comrade. Just like our Marines would do. Sometimes just a few slight humanizations are all it takes. For instance, a scene in Steve Spielberg’s War of the Worlds (2005) illustrated this perfectly when we saw one  curious alien playfully spin a bicycle wheel hanging in a garage. Either take that tact or ramp up the cold-blooded callousness. Conquering the world is too grand and cold a concept to get angry over. We’re more awed by it than incensed.

No need to go on about the characters and whether or not they are fully fleshed out. It’s not important here. The script does take the time to introduce a backstory to the main characters and director Jonathan Liebesman often finds little ways of defining the catastrophe in human terms. But still, we just don’t care. As a grand spectacle, Battle: Los Angeles is a technical marvel… kind of like watching a disaster fold out on TV. As a movie, it should be fun.  It’s just not.


{2jtab: Film Details}

Battle: Los AngelesMPAA Rating: PG-13 for sustained and intense sequences of war violence and destruction, and for language.
: Jonathan Liebesman
Aaron Eckart; Ramon Rodriguez; Ne-Yo; Bridget Moynahan; Cory Hardrict
Genre: Action | Sci-Fi | Thriller
Memorable Movie Quote:
"Maybe I can help. I'm a veterinarian."
Columbia Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date: March 11, 2011
Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available

Plot Synopsis: Battle: Los Angeles revolves around a Marine staff sergeant (Eckhart) and his new platoon's battle against an alien invasion on the streets of Los Angeles. The movie is presented as an intense real-time war movie from the perspective of the Marines. It has been described by some as "Black Hawk Down meets Independence Day". It will be a live-action drama, showcasing the United States Marines attempting to defeat an alien invasion of planet Earth.

{2jtab: Blu-ray/DVD Review}

Component Grades

Blu-ray Disc
2 stars

3 Stars

Blu-ray Experience
2.5 stars


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - June 14, 2011
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; Portuguese: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); DVD copy; Bonus View (PiP); BD-Live; movieIQ
Playback: Region Free



  • None

Special Features:

  • Command Control:
  • Behind the Battle (1080p, 6:44):
  • Aliens in L.A. (1080p, 17:57)
  • Preparing for Battle (1080p, 5:15)
  • Boot Camp (1080p, 10:18)
  • Creating L.A. in LA (1080p, 5:45)
  • Directing the Battle (1080p, 6:33)
  • The Freeway Battle (1080p, 5:18)
  • Previews (1080p)
  • Battle: Los Angeles PS3 Wallpaper
  • MovieIQ
  • BD-Live.
  • DVD Copy

{2jtab: Trailer}