Battle: Los Angeles

15 Apr

Title: Battle: Los Angeles
Year:
2011
Director:
Jonathan Liebesman
Writer: Christopher Bertolini
Starring:
Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez, Ramón Rodríguez, Bridget Moynahan, Ne-Yo, Michael Peña
MPAA Rating:
PG-13, sustained and intense sequences of war violence and destruction, and for language
Runtime:
116 min
Major Awards:

IMDb Rating:
6.2
Rotten Tomatoes:
34%

I went into Battle: Los Angeles pretty damn excited about getting the chance to watch it. I mean, the buzz surrounding it after last year’s Comic Con was pretty sensational, and the trailers and posters had me really fired about it. And while the film ultimately more than did good on its promise of a helluva lot of action, because this one is pretty much non-stop action adrenaline, it didn’t really feel as unique a film as its press material was anticipating, because it’s still pretty heavy on many war-type film clichées that dumb down this one. Not to mention that it really could have done with cutting some fifteen minutes out of it, because as kick-ass as the action might have been, it still felt that it went on for too long.

Now, I really didn’t dislike Battle: Los Angeles, I thought it was a pretty okay action film. The thing is, however, that as a science fiction one, which it kind of was considering aliens were involved, it failed considerably. But to be honest, I guess I was kind of let down because I was actually excited about this film, but to those that just went to see this film for the action in it, which I’m guessing is a good chunk of those who did (and considering this one’s made over $185 million already we can say those have been many), then this one probably paid off. Because it is a pretty loud and shaky sort of film with enough yelling and a hyper soundtrack that will get you all giddy about seeing troops killing aliens.

Think about Black Hawk Down and War of the Worlds and go ahead and mash them together and this is kind of what you’ll get. Though the result is nowhere as good as the aforementioned two films it is a pretty spot-on assessment of what you’ll get to watch for close to two hours, a group of marines trapped behind enemy lines in which the enemy in question is a group of aliens.

I’m trying to think of ways to talk about Battle: Los Angeles without making it sound bad, and I can’t. And that’s a shame because it wasn’t that bad, it just should have been way better considering the first glimpses we got of it and considering Aaron Eckhart, who stars here, is a damn fine actor. But you know what ended up doing this film in? The fact that it thought it was better than it actually was, and in the middle of the platoon yelling out orders full of military jargon and of all the explosions it tried to embed a lot of human story in it. That did it in for me.

Because war films have to be seriously amazing to carry a human story well, you can think of Saving Private Ryan or The Hurt Locker for some examples of how a human side to its story can actually carry a war film to complete greatness, but when the film isn’t that good to begin with then the human story can hurt it instead of helping it.

And that’s what happens in Battle: Los Angeles. There’s a moment in which Mr. Eckhart gives a monologue to the troops he’s in charge in, and in the right movie that monologue, which wasn’t particularly badly-scripted and was delivered by a very good actor, would have seem earnest and ferocious, but because it was being given in a film that had done nothing to engage us emotionally then it felt utterly ridiculous, and I wouldn’t blame you if you just had to giggle at it.

So that’s the misstep I thought this film took with us, it took itself seriously when us as an audience weren’t returning the favor. But still, when it doesn’t do that it feels pretty cool, the action is there in excessive amounts and it’s as noisy and violent and, well, dumb as you’d expect, and I mean that as a compliment because that’s really all you could want considering what this film aimed to be. But I just can’t help but think how much better it would have been had it cut off a bit of it’s length in how much time it took up dealing with emotional stuff.

I really don’t know how much I’d recommend this film, I mean, it’s far from bad, but it should have been better, I guess that’s what I’ll say. And I will say that it’s worth a watch if only to realize just how much potential Mr. Eckhart actually has as an action hero, this definitely wasn’t the film that will propel him to such status, but someone should go ahead and cast him in the right action film and I’m sure he’ll deliver some really solid results, the guy’s just a brilliant actor. But still, this is a film in which the dialogued is screamed and consists mostly of different variations of “Look out!” or “Run for cover!” or “Incoming!”, so acting really isn’t required. Go see this one if you’re an action junkie, if not you might as well skip it I guess.

Grade: B-

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