Battle: Los Angeles

Battle: LA is actually an excellent war movie along the same lines as Black Hawk Down (2001) and Green Zone (2010) but here the Marines are fighting aliens during an earth invasion. Unlike other alien invasion films like War of the Worlds (2005), Cloverfield (2008) and District 9 (2009), which are told from the POV of civilians, Battle: LA is unique in that it takes a soldier’s POV and is an all-out war film.  Here we have the best of two of my favorite genres in one film.

A military Sci-fi film, Battle LA has more in common with Terminator Salvation (2009) in terms of its visual style and pacing. Excellent visual effects combined with exciting non-stop action and realistic characters make this a pulse pounding adrenaline rush. Aaron Eckart, recently from The Dark Knight (2008) and Rabbit Hole (2010), gives a very human, vulnerable and compelling performance. His performance as Staff Sergeant Nantz, a decorated soldier who has just retired from the Marines but is pressed back into service when a new world crisis is revealed, keeps us hooked into the story throughout the duration of the film while it literally throws everything possible at us.

We follow a ragtag group of soldiers, who are a mix of survivors from different platoons, much like what would happen and did happen in real war situations against a superior enemy about who they and we the audience know nothing. We learn, as they do, about the enemy as we go. It is easy to see why Eckart was so enthusiastic about his role and the movie during press promotions. I remember him saying how he really got into his role and it shows.

This is a big budget Hollywood film that has lots of visual style and spares no expense on the visual effects. The cast is mostly unknown except for Aaron Eckart and Michelle Rodriquez, recently from Avatar and Machete, which adds to the authentic feel of the film. The hand held documentary style photography covers the action from every angle and gives a ‘you are there’ feel, adding to the realism.

I was excited about the Trailer for this film when I first saw it and when I finally saw the movie I was not disappointed. It delivered what I had expected and more. Although the aliens are not as advanced as I would have liked, the battle is messy and there is a lot of on-the-ground man-to-alien fighting which looked great, think Terminator Salvation, but I would have liked to see more in the air dog fights. Some of the best scenes are with CH-46 and Huey helicopters in the air transporting our soldiers to the battle front while the battle rages below and above. In fact the movie opens with just such a scene.

This movie easily holds up to such war films as Black Hawk Down and Green Zone as well as such alien invasion films as War of the Worlds, Cloverfield and District 9, in fact you get a great mix of both in this movie. Well worth seeing if you’re a fan of those genres.


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