Battle: Los Angeles (2011) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Battle: Los Angeles (2011)

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Battle Los Angeles is exactly the movie I thought it would be.  It was about a group of Marines battling an alien invasion in Los Angeles. There were a lot of explosions, gunfights and awful dialogue.  The movie was enjoyable in the presentation and sets off to do what it promised it would, but I still left the film wishing it had a little more meat on the bone. Since Independence Day was released 16+ years ago, all disaster/alien movie mishmashes have followed the same exact plot and Battle Los Angeles is really no different.

After an awesome pre-title sequence of the Marines preparing in a helicopter above the battle, we are thrown back in time previous to the invasion. We meet Staff Sergeant Michal Nantz (Aaron Eckhart) who recently had a tragic tour of duty in Iraq.  He is putting in his retirement papers after 20 years in the Marines and is burnt out; he will finish training his current crop of soldiers and then he is done.  We then meet a platoon of soldiers that all are given one trait to keep them apart in the viewers’ head.  We have the young kid, the man suffering from PTSD, the one getting married, the one who is married and ready to have a kid and the one who lost a brother in the war.  The movie doesn’t spend much time on any of these characters but that is probably a good thing because once the movie starts everyone looks way too similar and the movie is so frantic that you can’t separate them in the film anyway.

After we meet our group of people all hell breaks loose and the Marines are on their way to the fight.  Nantz is assigned to the group of men led by Lt. Martinez (Ramon Rodriguez) and they are assigned to rescue some civilians stuck in a police station in the middle of the warzone.  To add stress to this situation, they have two hours to get the civilians to safety before the Air Force blows the area up.  When their air support is cut off this platoon of Marines has to escort the civilians back to safety on foot through the battlefield.  Along the way some of the men get their mojo back/learn important lessons and figure out the secret to how to beat the aliens.

So yes, the script is bad.  Every cliché is thrown in for good measure, all characters are nothing more than cannon fodder and the dialogue is almost painful to listen to.  There is nothing unique or distinct about this movie and good actors such as Aaron Eckhart can’t salvage the proceedings.  There is a moment in the film that will go down in the hall of fame as badly written moments that you would have to see to believe.

Worst of all, Battle: Los Angeles builds up to the third act speech that rallies the troops onto victory.  Nantz gives a rousing speech of the people under his command and how he hasn’t forgotten their faces or names and how important and meaningful each of their lives were to him, only to end the speech with a “but that’s not important right now.”  Way to take the wind of out of the sails there Staff Sergeant Nantz.  I actually laughed out loud at this part because that line of dialogue made the last 3 minutes of the movie pointless.  This was the best example of the bad dialogue in the movie but it isn’t near the only example I could have come up with.

On the other hand the action and effects in the movie were great.  I LOVED the before the title sequence of them in the air.  Unlike the script and characters this felt unique and it was a hell of the way for the movie to start.   The movie is also very visceral and in your face, which worked for this type of film.  I have never been a fan of shaky “you are there” type action sequences but in this case I thought it worked really well for the tone the director was going for.

Unlike a lot of alien invasion movies we were not whisked away from the fighting in the trenches to give screen time for the president or more important happenings.  This movie was all about the fight between the grunts and aliens and making it feel like the superb Black Hawk Down was a stylistic choice I could get behind.   The movie was also tense in many moments and director Jonathan Liebesman knew how to ratchet up the suspense.  The action scenes were also expertly choreographed even though which character was getting shot was impossible to tell since everyone looked the same with the gear on.   The sound design was loud and a crucial part of the films feel and is the type of film that is best experienced in the theatres or with a kick ass home system.

So in the end, the movie was a good action film with cool visuals and interesting action scenes.  I believe there is a movie inside this one that would have made a great, visceral film that could be enjoyed again and again.  Unfortunately the horrible paint by the numbers screenplay keeps the movie far from reaching its potential and drags the movie down to the high end of the mediocre scale, but as Staff Sergeant Nantz would say, “that’s not important right now.”

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Battle: Los Angeles (2011)

Directed by Jonathan Liebesman.
"Written" by Christopher Bertolini
Starring Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez, Ramon Rodriguez

Posted by Ryan

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