If you’re an aspiring writer or film director, there are a few subject matters that you can make your film about that will guarantee that I’ll see it. Zombies, doomsday, Nazi’s, Kristen Bell, aliens, and, of course, doomsday alien zombie Nazi movies that star Kristen Bell. No matter what the movie is, no matter how bad the previews or reviews are for it, if a movie contains any of those things, I’m seeing it. So, obviously, when I first heard about Battle: Los Angeles, I was already down.
An alien race has descended to Earth (blah blah blah…), landing near every major city in the world, and is eliminating the human race so that they can raid our planet of its natural resources. Sound familiar? It should. That’s basically the plot of every man vs. alien film. This one in particular borrows a lot of the story elements from Roland Emmerich’s 1996 film, Independence Day. The biggest difference is that instead of our heroes trying to stop the aliens and save the world, ala Independence Day, Battle: Los Angeles simply revolves around a Marine squadron tasked with escorting a group of citizens through an alien-invested Los Angeles and into a safe zone.
Our main character in this story is Sgt. Michael Nantz (Aaron Eckhart). He’s the 20-year old vet who’s seen his best days go by the wayside. Despite being well respected within the Marine’s elite, Nantz has a reputation for getting the soldiers he leads killed in action. On the day that Nantz is set to serve his final day of training before heading off into retirement, a group of meteors smash into the Pacific Ocean, just off the coast of Los Angeles. Within these meteors is an army of intergalactic beings, who immediately showcase that they did not come in peace. Nantz is ordered to assist a squadron that is led by first-time lieutenant, William Martinez (Ramon Rodriguez), and get as many Los Angeles citizens to safety as possible before the government attempts to blow the aliens into oblivion.
The biggest problem with Battle: Los Angeles is that there’s just too much material here that we’ve seen elsewhere: We’ve got the “This is my one last job” storyline for Eckhart’s character, a bit that we’ve seen a thousand times. You have a story that seems to be the lovechild of Independence Day and War of the Worlds. You have the look and feel of District 9; heck, you even have Michelle Rodriguez playing the “tough chick” role, which she’s played in every movie that she’s done since 2000.
There’s just not enough new takes here to recommend someone going out of their way to see it. That’s not to say that it’s bad. It’s a very watchable film. There’s just little to no chance that you’ll walk away from it saying anything more positive than “ehh.”
There are also other factors at work here that prevent this film from being as enjoyable as it could have been. You’ll know these moments when you see them. They’re the moments that make you stop ask questions in your own head like…
“If those aliens have guns embedded on their bodies, why are they such terrible shots?”
“Wait. They went into that sewer in the dead of night, had one little firefight, and now they pop out of the sewer in broad daylight?”
“Why do these aliens look like Alpha 5 from the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers?”
“Why is the camera always shaking even when it’s not an action scene? Was Michael J. Fox the cameraman?”
Don’t worry, there are more. Many more.
Battle: Los Angeles is a film that I was really looking forward to. It’s disappointing, but not because it’s a bad film. It’s not. It’s disappointing because it had the opportunity to be a District 9-like film, and, well, it’s just not. If you want explosions and special effects and that’s all you care about, you’ll probably enjoy this more than I did. But if you were hoping for a narrative and a film that had some lasting appeal…well, this just isn’t that film.
I give Battle: Los Angeles three out of five. Watch This Movie on Putlocker.