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Movie Review: Battle: LA | by J.P. Langston

03/14/11 | by JP | Categories: Films

Earth battles the space invaders in "Battle: L.A.," starring Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez, Ramon Rodriguez, Bridget Moynahan, Ne-Yo and Michael Peña.

Follow up:

BATTLE: LOS ANGELES
Columbia Pictures
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for "sustained and intense sequences of war violence and destruction, and for language."
RUNNING TIME: 117 minutes
URL: http://battlela.com/
Directed by: Jonathan Liebesman
Cast: Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez, Ramon Rodriguez, Bridget Moynahan, Ne-Yo and Michael Peña

Studio Synopsis:
For years, there have been documented cases of UFO sightings around the world – Buenos Aires, Seoul, France, Germany, China. But in 2011, what were once just sightings will become a terrifying reality when Earth is attacked by unknown forces. As people everywhere watch the world’s great cities fall, Los Angeles becomes the last stand for mankind in a battle no one expected. It’s up to a Marine staff sergeant (Aaron Eckhart) and his new platoon to draw a line in the sand as they take on an enemy unlike any they’ve ever encountered before.


Aaron Eckhart stars in Columbia Pictures' "Battle: Los Angeles."
PHOTO BY: Richard Cartwright.

J.P.'s Take:
Let’s get right to it. There seemed to be a lot of hype surrounding “Battle: L.A.” long before its release.

After sitting through the nearly two-hour battle of sensory grinding action, I couldn't really see what the big deal was. Not that this movie was terrible, because I've seen worse, it’s just that after a while it started to wear me down. About the only thing going for it was the eerie story, as it begins with a news broadcast about mysterious meteors falling from the sky. Then, as these cosmic boulders fall to Earth, they begin to slow down upon impact.

As a whole, “Battle” sounds electrifying but instead it’s a loud chaotic mess, which suffers from an insipid script. The dialogue is simply too mellow dramatic and uninspiring. Most of the time the actors shouted their lines instead of allowing the more intense moments do the talking for them. In times of war, ideally you’d expect panic to break out among the human race, especially when other worldly beings show up on our door step at a moment’s notice. Who wouldn’t panic once word spread that these hostile life forms came down just to wage war on us --- for our resources. But with a film like this one, which boasts about the intensiveness, you’ll feel we shouldn’t have to sit through the silly speeches and preachy remarks from the characters.

Midway though, I basically found myself tuning out on the slow scenes and waited for the more entertaining moments to rear their heads. The few scenes I thought were note worthy are when the Marines first encountered the life forms. Both sides engage in a fierce shoot out in the streets. The aliens storm atop houses and building, while firing their lasers with lightening speed. What grabbed my attention about those scenes is how agile these space invaders were, as opposed to their human counterparts. Scenes where intergalactic ships enter the war are pretty cool to watch as well. And, of course, the aliens are weird looking and carry technologically advanced weaponry with them.


Michelle Rodriguez in Columbia Pictures' "Battle: Los Angeles," starring Aaron Eckhart. PHOTO BY: Richard Cartwright

This is the second movie I’ve watched this month where character development is almost non existent. You get tidbits about the lives of the solider sporadically thrown about, yet you still feel empty when they’re killed or even injured. Not to sound like a sadist or anything, but I just didn’t care enough about them.

In comparison to one of my favorite alien films, “Independence Day,” there was the character story first then the aliens came into play somewhere in between. They took their time trying to figure out how to get rid of the extraterrestrial pests. Another interesting factor of “Independence Day” was the mystery behind the motives of the interstellar beings. No one knew how and when they would strike, creating more of an epic event toward the end.

Aaron Eckhart as Staff Sergeant Michael Nantz heads a near star-studded cast, which consists of Michelle Rodriguez (as Technical Sergeant Elena Santos), Michael Pena (Joe Rincon), singer Ne-Yo (Corporal Kevin Harris), and Michele Bridget Moynahan (civilian Michele Martinez) ~ all of which receive kudos from me for trying their best to keep this mess alive.

Personally I consider “Battle: L.A.” a good old fashion Sci-Fi fodder … meaning if you’re looking for a plain and simply action flick involving aliens, then this film is your best bet. By the title’s description, it is a serious battle; however, it lacks that much needed punch in the script department.

I could rattle off about a dozen better invasion movies; some of which are my personal favorites, starting with “Alien” at the top of my list. That is followed by “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1978 version), “Predator” (1984 version),”Signs," “Independence Day,” and “District 9.”

Again not to dog “Battle,” but in comparison to the films I mentioned above, it was a little on the average side as far as execution. I give it a solid C.

_________________________________________________________________

J.P. Langston is a member of "Sidewalks Entertainment" team primarily as a videographer. He loves movies, especially sci-fi horror and action comedies. Some of his favorite films include "Blade Runner" "The Matrix Trilogy," The (original) "Star Wars," "Equilibrium," "Serenity," "Kill Bill Vols 1 and 2," "Appleseed," "Unbreakable" and "Sin City." He has a large DVD collection, which is still growing. Since reviewing films for "Sidewalks," he has been expanding his palette for all types of films.

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