Battle: Los Angeles

Just Shoot It

         
 

11 March 2011| No Comments     by Sean Chavel

 

100% jerky. Battle: Los Angeles uses the jerky cam the entire movie even during the downtime moments, taking on the method like a hammer to your head. Aaron Eckhart (Two-Face in “The Dark Knight”), as SSgt. Michael Nantz, is the only one to register as a three-dimensional character while the rest of the squad members are one-note stereotypes. Ssgt. Nantz’s squad, who seems to be harboring resentment for their leader for some vague reason, seems to be the only one prevailing in this alien attack and it comes off as more luck than skill. Nothing interesting about the aliens – they fight in heavy shell armor and with weaponry like ours only with stronger fire flicker. You can’t see the aliens, or their hovercrafts, clearly because everything is shot through grey filters and smoke. But my pet peeve during these kinds of movies is that there never is a litter of dead bodies after the aliens have just annihilated the whole city.

“Independence Day” (1996) was the true trendsetter. In those days we had Fresh Prince homeboy Will Smith, nerdy sci-tech guy Jeff Goldblum, foxy do-good stripper Vivica A. Fox, trigger happy and good old Texas boy Harry Connick Jr., and jingoistic hambone president Bill Pullman. In retrospect, “Independence Day” was a class act. “Battle: Los Angeles” has artificial stand-ins for characters.

Part of the blazing, let it burn fun of “Independence Day” (or “War of the Worlds” or “2012”) was watching major cities and their landmarks of the world blow up. L.A. is already a blown apart mess before the marines even get there. The audience gets one cool shot of aliens obliterating stupid gawking humans in one tsunami-like burst of fire. This is viewed through a grainy television broadcast, and most of those grainy digital broadcasts are photographed by a crew that zooms their cameras too close up on their subjects so you can’t see.

Not being able to see, or distinguish, is a big issue here. Smudged in-between the chaotic blink and you miss it aesthetics are about three dramatic developments: the squad becomes saviors to a few civilian survivors (Bridget Moynahan as a veternarian, Michael Peña as a dad), the squad is able to study an alien cadaver to find out its homeostatic weakness, Ssgt. Nantz is the one to figure out the remote capability of their hovercraft and drones and alas find its structural weakness. The dialogue is not to be savored although it might be tech accurate to Marine voice of command. At the end, the heroes want to take back the city of Los Angeles that is rightfully theirs except there is nothing to take back because it was all destroyed in reel one.

Memory of this one is fleeting. There have been good destroy Earth extravaganzas before and there will be good ones ahead of us again.

116 Minutes. Rated PG-13.

ACTION & ADVENTURE / CREATURE FEATURE / SHOOT ‘EM UP

Film Cousins: “Independence Day” (1996); “Alien: Resurrection” (1997); “War of the Worlds” (2005); “Cloverfield” (2008).

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.

 

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