Action Movie Fanatix Review: Battle: Los Angeles

It’s Not War.  It’s Survival.

Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez, Ramon Rodriguez, Bridget Moynahan, Ne-yo, Michael Pena

Director: Jonathan Liebesman

2011  |  116 Minutes  |  PG-13

“Its been my experience, Lieutenant, heavy shit is highly overrated.” – Staff Sergeant Nantz

I first saw Battle: Los Angeles in the theater with one of my absolute best friends.  We either completely agree on movies or have some of the weirdest divergences in our movie taste.  He has recommended some of the worst movies I have ever seen and I have shown him movies where he fell asleep.  Yet when we walked out of Battle: Los Angeles we were in total agreement, this was AWESOME!

When large meteorites begin colliding into earth it is quickly discovered that these are much more than just big rocks.  They contain hostile aliens.  A group of U.S. Marines is sent into downtown Los Angeles to rescue civilians trapped in a LAPD police station.  Included in the squad is Staff Sergeant Nantz (Aaron Eckhart), who is nearing retirement and had recently lost his entire squad in Iraq.  Along the way the Marines encounter a group of Army National Guard and one Air Force intelligence officer (Michelle Rodriguez).  The seemingly thrown together group of military works together to get the civilians out of the police station before the Air Force starts bombing Los Angeles.

There isn’t much of a storyline here, it is more like watching a military unit fighting an invading force.  We are simply along for the ride.  In that way it is similar to Act of Valor, which I also loved.  The characters have backgrounds and some of the interpersonal relationships are interesting but they are mostly just goings on in the background of a ton of sweet military fights against this alien invasion.

Battle: Los Angeles doesn’t delve too deeply into each of the characters but the opening minutes of the film introduce each character and give enough of a reason to make you cringe when they die or come close to it.

It is kind of funny, when my friend and I walked out of the theater that night we both had the same thought.  It was like watching Independence Day without all the comedy (Welcome to Earf!) and uploading of viruses to the mother ship.  It was just down & dirty U.S. Military vs. Aliens.  And we loved it.

I absolutely loved the design of the aliens, their ships and their weapons.  Everything was very mechanical and realistic feeling.  There were no lasers.  No “Beam me up Scottie” moments.  Their weapons all fire projectiles and some even seem to be surgically attached to their soldiers (YES!).  It seemed like this alien race was probably only a few hundred years more advanced than our own civilization rather than those of other movies where they are light years beyond anything we could ever dream of.

The effects are always spot on as well.  There wasn’t a single moment in Battle: Los Angeles where I was taken out of the action by bad CGI.

The action is always intense, even when there are no guns firing.  There is always an sense of impending doom.  And when the guns are ablazing it becomes a very violent and gritty affair, especially for a movie that is only rated PG-13.

I have seen Battle: Los Angeles 3 or 4 times since that initial viewing in the theater and the ending gives me goosebumps every time I see it.  I won’t ruin it, don’t worry.  It’s almost enough to bring a tear to my eyes.  (Almost… I’m still a man.)

Battle: Los Angeles is by far my favorite alien invasion movie in years.  There is never a moment where I think “oh, that was better in that other movie.”  I am literally on the edge of my seat the entire time.  I have seen it 4 or 5 times already and I have no doubt I will see it again and again.