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Battle: Los Angeles: Ooh-Rah

Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Screenplay: Chris Bertolini
Release Date:: March 11, drug 2011
Actors: Aaron Eckhart, physician Ramon Rodriguez, cost Michelle Rodriguez, Bridget Moynahan, Michael Pena, Cory Hardrict, Adetokumboh M’Cormack, Will Rothhaar, Gino Anthony Pesi, Ne-Yo, James Hiroyuki Liao, Neil Brown Jr., Taylor Handley

The last time we saw Los Angeles being invaded they were done by huge tentacle-like aliens who had blue lights that detected human being activity. They did this by detecting light and their goal was to collect the brains of humans. Remember? Oh yeah, that was a different movie, called Skyline. That was out last November when Los Angeles was last invaded. I guess we were safe then, but I think Los Angeles is in trouble again.

In “Battle: Los Angeles”, the invasion occurs yet again, but instead of following a group of partying civilians stuck in a fancy apartment building, we’re introduced a group of Marines. We’re shown a bit of their backgrounds and have a chance to get to know them, however briefly, in the very beginning. Their mission is to find the civilians in a police dept and bring them back to the safe zone before Santa Monica is leveled to the ground. Straight faced staff sergeant Mike Nantz (portrayed here by Aaron Eckhart) is about to retire when he is called in to help with this mission.

Don’t expect “Battle: Los Angeles” to be anything more than it is. If you expect some sort of social commentary ala “District 9” or a story similar to those bacteria dying aliens found in “War of the Worlds”, stay home. Most of the action is very “Call of the Duty”-like. You WILL feel as though you’re playing a shooting game, with all the shaky camera moments and the main weaponry used being rifles, shotguns and machine guns with at most several packs of C4. Critics will surely pan this film. This is almost guaranteed. But, I enjoy action and shooting films. Though “Battle: Los Angeles” does play something like one long Marine recruiting commercial, I imagine that if an alien invasion were to happen, this is how the Marines would react (or so I hope). It is because of this that “Battle: Los Angeles” feels very realistic, because we’re not fighting the aliens with some fancy technology we don’t have, but what we’re familiar with. Granted, if you sit there and start to think a bit more, it’s hard to understand how any humans survived at all, given that we’re fighting aliens that have lasers and weapons seared onto their bodies. The scene where they’re running away in a bus lacked any believability either. I constantly wondered how they could drive 25 miles without getting bombed and destroyed when they had trouble walking a few feet without getting shot at. The same thought crossed my mind every time a helicopter landed or there were a dozen helicopters in the sky. These slow moving vehicles could be wiped out in a matter of minutes. I kept waiting, but they remained alive in the sky. Some scenes were just too much, especially when Nantz gives a pep talk to the son (Bryce Cass) of civilian Joe Rincon about what it means to be brave and to be a Marine, and then continues on describing the effect of losing so many people in squadrons from his previous missions – basically, more Marine talk. I could have done without that as it was just overkill. It was almost as it was written in for some emotional effect, but “Battle: Los Angeles” largely lacks any real emotion.

If I overlook these elements, I really enjoyed “Battle: Los Angeles”, and I think the people around me really enjoyed it too (for the most part, minus some of the press members.) The whole time I had problems trying to remember to breathe, as it was nonstop action that just never really let up. Each intense scene transitioned to another intense scene. The actors (Aaron Eckhart, Ramon Rodriguez, Cory Hardrict, Adetokumboh M’Cormack, Will Rothhaar, Gino Anthony Pesi, Ne-Yo, James Hiroyuki Liao, Neil Brown Jr., Taylor Handley) really conveyed the feeling that they really had each others’ backs. As always, it was pleasant to see Michelle Rodriguez in a role which suits her so well (much like Avatar). She blended into the team so well, and I appreciated there was no superiority or air of condescension towards the fact that she was the only female, except for the small scene that allowed for a bit of comedy when she helps out Corporal Nick Stavrou (Gino Anthony Pesi) and Corporal Lee Imlay (Will Rothhaar). The film does suffer a bit with not enough character development, but this is always difficult when your cast is so huge and there is no time to get to know the characters because they’re busy trying to save the world.

The scope of this invasion is directed mainly at Los Angeles, with brief mentions that other countries and cities are also being invaded. Because the film focuses mainly on Santa Monica and the events that happen with this squadron, it is difficult to feel as though you’re not trapped with them. I actually think the film succeeds here, because it manages to give you an idea of what you might really feel like if you were stuck in this situation with no where to go and only these Marines to rely on to get you safely out of harms way. Actors Bridget Moynahan (you can see her currently on CBS’ “Blue Blood”), and Michael Pena (who has had countless of successful roles) play civilians Michele and Joe Rincon that the squadron must rescue along with two other girls and Rincon’s son. They’re not really given all that much to do, but they offer some perspective of being part of the non-armed group who must trust Lieutenant Martinez (Ramon Rodriguez) and Nantz with their lives.

So, despite the lack of believability in some parts (yes, that is if you accept the idea that aliens have invaded earth, want to colonize here and they are actually waging war against humans), “Battle: Los Angeles” is sock full of intense scenes, weapon fights and many scenes worthy of cheering when the enemy falls to the ground. The story is fairly clear and cohesive, due to the mission they’re given. There are a few dialogue problems, especially the ones I mentioned above (translation: Do you want to be a Marine? It’s good to be a Marine. Be proud to be a Marine. A Marine never quits) as it all turns into an advertisement. I appreciate what our military does for us, but the extent writer Chris Bertolini took it was a bit too far. However, I will admit that at the end of the film, I almost wanted to become a Marine.

Ignore the critics on this one if you were planning on checking this film out. If you like action, apocalyptic movies (and I sure love these as much as I love romantic comedies), get to the theatre and make up your own mind.

Definitely recommend! Has a few problems, but generally, filled with nonstop intense action and likeable characters portrayed by actors Aaron Eckhart and Michelle Rodriguez. Not much heart or emotion, but take it for what it is and you will be satisfied. It felt pretty real, due to the shaky cam, the gritty scenes, and the use of real weapons. 3.5 Retreat Hells / 5 Retreat Hells

If you like this film, you might also like:
Independence Day, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Skyline, Black Hawk Down, District 9, War of the Worlds, 2012, Armageddon

Other Links:
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