Battle: Los Angeles Jonathan Liebesman
Published Mar 03, 2011In an industry that seldom cuts a tantalizing trailer, it's rare to see one as enticing as the ominous invasion news reports of Battle: Los Angeles. Unfortunately, the film turns out to be so much less than the sum of its small parts.
Presumably, the studio would have audiences believe this to be some sort of pseudo-doc or guerrilla filmmaking akin to District 9 or even Monsters ― anything other than the sub-standard, by-the-books (the For Dummies line) pile of chest-beating, flag-waving tripe that it is.
Those initially intriguing news reports commence before the studio logos have even faded, effectively making some of Battle: Los Angeles's best moments occur before a second of footage has rolled, and before one the movie-of-the week military puppets utters the first of an unending string of nauseating clichés.
We're given a quick taste of the battlefield to come, as newscasters comment upon a meteor shower of unprecedented magnitude that preceded assaults upon major cities around the world. Instead of starting in the thick of the action, the clock is rewound to 24 hours before contact. Ah, yes, the requisite back-story for characters so stock they'll be nearly impossible to care about once the shit hits the fan.
Aaron Eckhart acts like he's swimming away from the blades of a giant blender filled with bile as Staff Sergeant Michael Nantz, a decorated veteran with a shadowy past who's just resigned from duty. There must've been a sale on cheap tropes in writer Chris Bertolini's head. The ability to double-fist brittle archetypes is about all he brings to the clunky and embarrassingly derivative script, and director Jonathan Liebesman weaves those word turds into an unrelenting spray of cinematic incontinence.
Nantz ends up heading a Marine platoon that conveniently includes the brother of a man who died under his command years earlier. His other military misfits include LCpl. Peter Kerns (True Blood's Hoyt Fortenberry), who, it's set up, has some form of psychological problems that have no bearing on the story.
The setting up of events that have little or a nonsensical payoff is as consistent as the shitty shaky-cam approach to all but the admittedly impressive aerial shots of the panorama of carnage. Michelle Rodriguez is under-utilized once again, but that's a blessing in an illogical stinker like this.
Oh, and don't even get me started on the aliens. Sub-Toaster model Cylon-looking things with vegetable steamer Transformer ships? Misguided attempts to ratchet up tension aren't the only reasons the creatures are seldom seen on screen.
Much of Battle: Los Angeles would be better served unseen too, like all of it, save the trailer. Stick with that unless you've been dying to see what Independence Day would've been like with no sense of humour and even less style. (Sony)