April 4, 2011


Battle: Los Angeles (or World Invasion: Battle Los Angeles if you're in not-America) is a very, very silly movie. In fact, it's kind of stupid - but not joyously so. It's a movie with one hook - a faux-documentary feel to following a group of Marines during an alien invasion. It tries to wring absolutely everything it can out of that photography choice and it is often nauseating and headache inducing. And to clarify: this is not a "found footage" type of film, like The Blair Witch Project or the more recent Cloverfield and Paranormal Activity. This is more like an ADHD Bourne film.

It starts strong: right in the middle of the first stage of the invasion, with the Marine unit en route to they-don't-know-what. It immediately loses that forward momentum though when things cut back to 24 hours previous. And why cut back in time? To get to know these Marines I guess? So we maybe care about them a little when they eventually die in some alien-related fashion? Well, it would help if any of these Marines were actual believable characters. As they are, they're barely rough characterisations and speak in cliche and exposition. Yes, I don't really expect fully drawn and realised characters in this type of film, but there's got to be something more there - especially as we could have learned the same, if not more, about the characters once they hit the ground.  

And, really, you don't even have the visual effects for your eyes to distract you with. For a big, studio-based, effects heavy film a lot of the VFX look, frankly, cheap and shitty. While the cinematography (if, as the purists sniff, you can call it that) is there to all but scream at you THIS IS REAL! See, 'cos it's out of focus and stuff! What would have actually made the film more "real" would have been believable characters and decisions. Aaron Eckhart does his level best with the shoddy writing he's given. The script feels like a mash-up of Cloverfield, Independence Day, Signs and video-game cut scenes with none of the fun or inventiveness of any of them (it baffles my mind that some people are saying this is better than Independence Day. It's not).

It's not all bad, however. There are moments of pure visceral thrills and you really come to believe Eckhart as the tougher than nails Staff Sergeant Nantz. If there really must be a sequel, it could do worse than following Nantz once more into the breach. The film also works as an excellent way to blow out the cobwebs in your brain, just from it's sheer frenetic sense of action, action, ACTION! But if you're looking for a grunts vs. aliens film you really can't do better than Verhoeven's Starship Troopers. Everything that Battle: LA gets wrong, Troopers gets right: from the action, to the sly subversive intent, to the gore, comedy and fun.


  1. See, now what I really want to read is a review of ID4 from you. I'm sensing some barely veiled love for Emmerich and Co

  2. Hmmm... perhaps the focus of a future In Appreciation of... entry. I do so love the fantastic brainlessness of ID4, The Day After Tomorrow (outrunning a cold front) and 2012 (outrunning an earthquake).