It seems like audiences will never get tired of alien invasion movies, and I’m ok with that because I personally love the genre. When done right, invasion movies are exciting and may even have a message that mirrors societal problems. Then there are some that are loud and brainless, kind of like Battle: Los Angeles.
SSgt. Michael Nantz (Aaron Eckhart) is finished with being a Marine. He has to get through day after day of reliving his past mistakes that got people killed. Unfortunately, for him and everyone else, he is pulled back into active duty after aliens arrive on earth and begins exterminating any human that the come across in order to colonize our planet. Nantz and his new squad are part of the bigger machine that is charged with repelling their attack by any means necessary.
Does anything else happen in this movie? No. Not really. There is a nice beginning that introduces all of the different marines that we will be with the entire movie, and lets us in on their different personalities. They are a pretty diverse bunch of people, which does help me care about them, but I knew that there were a lot of them because a lot of people have to die, so i immediately understood their purpose.
Even with all of the characters, besides Nantz, I still found it hard to keep everyone together. When they are in battle, they pretty much just lost their characters and became random people, because I had absolutely no idea who was doing what, or even what was going on sometimes. Battle: LA is filmed in a kind of faux-documentary style, so expect a lot of shaky cam and motion sickness, lots of motion sickness. I don’t know what it is with film makers today, especially in Hollywood, who think that this style of film making works to the advantage of an action film. Even Christopher Nolan was guilty of this in Batman Begins. If there is an action scene, I’d like to see and understand it.
I’m pretty sure that this movie was partially made as a recruiting video for the United States Marines. I got tired of hearing how much ass the Marines kick and how they never retreat. It would have been fine a couple of times, but every other line? No, thank you. Saving Private Ryan and Black Hawk Down are actual war movies, and even they don’t talk about themselves as much as the characters in Battle: LA.
Then again, all of the writing in this movie is pretty terrible. Battle: LA is packed to the brim with every war movie cliché you can possibly think of. The characters are all stock war characters, there’s the obligatory and serious “tell my wife I love her” scenes, and a protagonist with a mysterious past. Some originality would have been nice, but who needs to be original when there are so many explosions and cool looking stuff (Michael Bay?).
I can’t say that the movie didn’t entertain me for a little bit. I saw it when it first came out in theaters and had a pretty good time, but watching it again at home, I liked it a lot less. When the aliens first came and the action first picked up, I was liking it. Then it kept going and going and going. When the end finally came, I was more than ready to turn it off. It was only two hours long. That’s average for a movie, but it felt way too long. Two hours of nonstop yelling and shooting may sound cool, but not really.
Battle: LA had potential to be cool, but is wasted with some of the most unoriginal, and vomit inducing (shaky cam) content that has come out in the past couple years. Look at District 9 and Independence Day. Those are fantastic alien invasion films, and I wished a couple of times that I was watching them instead of Battle: LA. It may look cool, be loud, and have lots of action, but I was still pretty bored. This isn’t a good movie, so save yourself some time.