Battle: Los Angeles (2011) Review

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Invasion U.S.A.

In Battle: Los Angeles (2011): 7 out of 10: the world faces an unprecedented threat when hostile alien spacecraft arrive off the coasts of major cities, including Los Angeles. Staff Sergeant Michael Nantz (Aaron Eckhart), a seasoned veteran of the Iraq War who was on the brink of retirement, “Aww man, I was getting short, too, four more weeks and out, now I’m gonna buy it on this rock!“, finds himself thrust back into action as part of the Marine contingent sent to confront the extraterrestrial invaders.

Assigned to the 1st Platoon, Echo Company, Nantz joins forces with 2nd Lieutenant William Martinez (Ramón Rodríguez) and his team at a forward operating base established at Santa Monica Airport. The situation quickly escalates as the Marines are tasked with rescuing civilians trapped in the heart of the conflict zone. Amidst relentless alien assaults, Nantz and his comrades face harrowing battles, suffering casualties along the way.

Despite the overwhelming odds, Nantz demonstrates unwavering leadership as he bands together with survivors, including veterinarian Michele (Bridget Moynahan) and children Kirsten (Joey King), Amy (Jadin Gould), and Hector (Bryce Cass), along with Hector’s father, Joe (Always solid Michael Peña). With the support of Army and Air Force personnel, the group navigates through the chaos, evading alien drones and fighting for their survival.

Tragedy strikes when their evacuation efforts are thwarted by a devastating attack, resulting in the loss of more lives. Nantz leads the remaining Marines and civilians on a perilous journey through the ravaged city, driven by a determination to honor the fallen and ensure the survival of those under his protection.

As they press on towards an alternate extraction point, facing both physical and emotional challenges, Nantz finds solace in his comrades’ memories, fostering a sense of unity and purpose amidst the chaos. Ultimately, their resilience pays off as they reach safety and are airlifted to relative security, marking a bittersweet victory in the face of overwhelming adversity.

The Good

The Good: It is Black Hawk Down, but with aliens is not the worse way to describe Battle: Los Angeles. What you get is a war film where the opponent is an alien invasion force. It could just as easily be the Chinese. (Sorry modern Hollywood rules North Korea… I see you 2012’s Red Dawn remake and the video game Homefront).

Battle: Los Angeles is a pretty good movie. Taking some ideas from Black Hawk Down and more recent American battles such as The First Battle of Fallujah, code-named Operation Vigilant Resolve. Battle: Los Angeles takes pains to keep the military jargon and tactics as accurate as possible, which makes for an entertaining war film.

Of course, having the good guys being led by Aaron Eckhart’s heroic chin makes all the difference. Aaron Eckhart takes his role seriously and plays it straight, giving an otherwise B movie gravitas. Battle: Los Angeles also has enough of a budget to show some decent firefights and attacks. It also puts together a viable alien invasion force even though they somewhat resemble District 9’s swim team.

The cannon fodder… excuse me, fellow marines are fairly well fleshed out and the scenarios are both realistic and dramatic. The script is solid with clear cut action and a movement towards a goal with plenty of obstacles to overcome. Director Jonathan Liebesman does an excellent job keeping most of the action focused and squad based.

The Bad

The Bad: Expectations are a funny thing. Those coming into Battle: Los Angeles expecting a Roland Emmerich film like Independence Day are bound to be disappointed. This is a small-scale affair.

While the aliens are competently handled, Sci-Fi fans looking for their fix are also in danger of disappointment. Since we are dealing with the limited knowledge of a squad in a war zone, the information about the aliens or the accuracy of the information given is thin on the ground.

The Ugly

The Ugly: The aliens are ugly. As I state below, the only real problem with Battle: Los Angeles is that I can barely remember any scenes from the film soon after watching. I haven’t seen Independence Day in years (decades) and I remember that film a lot better. Hell, I have better recollection of Mars Attacks! and War of the Worlds (both 2005 and 1953).

In Conclusion

In Conclusion: A very good but ultimately forgettable war film with aliens. Solid direction and a game cast raise this above what one might expect (This is no Battleship). But there really isn’t anything terribly memorable (good or bad) about the film. Battle: Los Angeles stays so close to the ground the story never reaches for the stars. (Ugh I got to rewrite that last sentence good lord, what is wrong with me… seriously Julian…. reaches for the stars…)

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