Battle: Los Angeles (Review)

BATTLE: LOS ANGELES
(3/11/11; Sci-Fi, Action)
Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez, Will Rothhaar, Bridget Moynahan, Jim Parrack, Adetokumboh M’Cormack, Michael Peña, Lucas Till, Ne-Yo, Joey King, Aisha Tyler
SCR: Christopher Bertolini
DIR: Jonathan Liebesman
MPAA: PG-13 for sustained and intense sequences of war violence and destruction, and for language.
1 hour 56 mins
BOX: $83,441,876

This second of two concurrently-released “aliens attack Los Angeles” movies clearly has a bigger budget and grander aspirations than Skyline (2010) but that’s about it. After a sparse set-up about clusters of meteors bound for major cities, we follow a platoon of Marines as they head into war-torn Santa Monica for a rescue operation. Not much reason is given for the attack and in crafting the frenetic scene-for-scene lurching, its clear screenwriter Bertolini was more interested in the intricacies of how to blow things up than investing any thought about characters or story.

So, yes, the label that this film was the Black Hawk Down of alien flicks is true: Battle is an on-the-ground intimate account and no cliché is spared: from the battle hardened staff sergeant (Eckhart) with a Horrible Event in his past and wounded pride; the virgin, the family man, et al, we’ve see it all a million times before.

It’s interesting that Skyline and Battle both open with a bang and then rewind the action for about 20 minutes of needless character set-up, as if that was the only way to hook an audience. Even though this is a near-formless mass of sound and fury, Eckhart’s tortured eyes and subtle reactions make it seem like so much more whenever he’s onscreen.

But don’t be fooled. It’s not. (Columbia)

— DENNIS WILLIS

Author: Dennis Willis

Dennis Willis is an award-winning producer, TV host, producer, director, editor (he preferred Avid until a torrid affair with Adobe Premiere, and the rest is history), author and film critic (print and radio). Dennis produced and hosted the TV programs Reel Life, FilmTrip, Soundwaves (1983-2008) and produces the annual Soundwaves Xmas program. He is currently the film critic on KGO Radio in San Francisco, and a member of both the San Francisco Film Critics Circle and the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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