12A – 116mins – Action/Sci-Fi/Thriller – 11th March 2011
I must admit that since I first became aware of this movie my initial thoughts were that it’s not going to be quite the hit I think it is expecting to be and as a worst case scenario it might turn into the next Skyline. Big word of warning, do not watch that movie, you can’t get the time back no matter how hard you try. It is truly diabolical. I would rather be relaxing on the beach at the start of Battle: Los Angeles if the trailer is anything to go by than see that again! Fingers crossed lets see what we’ve got…
First impressions are that this film is a bit of a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get), if you wanted a battle that’s located in Los Angeles then guess what, this is not going to disappoint so long as you don’t mind other areas of the film lacking. We arrive pre-invasion to set up the characters and get to grips with who we are going to be sharing the next two hours with, unfortunately they are rather one dimensional and stereotypical. Without giving too much away, yes we have the man with the pregnant fiancée, the young new rookie with a taste for power, an appearance for the hardened female soldier and the main character, SSgt. Michael Nantz (Aaron Eckhart) who is past his prime and on his way out to name but a few. I’m sure I’ve seen this lot somewhere else before?
Another bone I have to pick with this movie is with the music (Brian Tyler) that seems to be a continuous background noise of semi-patriotic soon to be bursting into a glorious celebratory ensemble number which continues regardless of what scenario is unfolding in front of us, good or bad. The most engaging parts are actually when everything goes silent and only then can the suspense grow.
One thing I did appreciate from this movie was the cinematography which is filmed in a similar style to that of Cloverfield putting you right in the thick of the action and making you feel a lot more involved with the group of marines around which the plot revolves. Hopefully you’ll appreciate this as I can imagine that a cameraman with Parkinsons will be getting on some viewers nerves by the end. The way information is relayed to the viewer about what is happening elsewhere on the battlefield is through background radio and TV sources which is rather clever as you only ever know what the marines know which keeps the intrigue.
Quick mention to the visuals which during the helicopter flyover scenes at the start and aerial views over the city are very impressive. The aliens also look real enough as do their ships and as a whole it’s very realistic. However if you replaced every alien in this film with a human I honestly don’t think I would have noticed much of a difference.
I felt the director Liebesman wanted the viewer to be involved and to try and feel the bond that was supposedly evident between these marines and yet for some reason it just didn’t work. At points it was more akin to playing Call of Duty than a movie as they search the city for survivors coming up against enemies who were ever increasingly difficult to kill. The suspense it built just about held me at the start when the mystery of the enemy was still strong but that faded as the movie continued.
As you can see Battle: Los Angeles will not be going down as one of my favourites of all time. It can be summed up by taking the action from Black Hawk Down, the cinematography of Cloverfield and a pinch of Independence Day plot thrown in for good measure. Only problem is it has taken the average parts from all of them rather than the best. Watchable indeed but nothing more than a generic ‘lets shoot then before they shoot us’ action with which I never found that connection to the stereotypical/clichéd characters that I can only assume I was supposed to.
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