Thursday, March 10, 2011

Movie Review: "Battle LA" Misfires

If you've seen Independence Day, War of the Worlds, Transformers, Speed or played Halo, you've got the gist of Battle LA.  Seen it, survived it & thanks, we'll pass on the concert t-shirt.

Opening with urgent news report announcing the "world is at war," U.S. Marines ready to fight the E.T. enemy mobilizing in the sky and oceans.  Aliens have conquered nearly every major city in the world and Los Angeles remains up for grabs.  Turns out, they're after our water (go figure).  Generally, aliens are scary, slimy things that may or may not be green?  They have tall skinny legs and big eyes, right?  The aliens in Battle LA apparently mated with Robo Cop before their Earthly debut.  

Brief backgrounds are established with the principle platoon members and the film follows Aaron Eckhart's character, Marine Staff Sergeant Nantz, as he is preparing to retire after a rough mission.  Leading a group of untrusting Marines, his character is forced to prove himself.  The movie becomes less about aliens and more about Staff Sergeant Nantz's last shot at redemption.  

Eckhart may have broken his arm playing Marine Staff Sergeant Nantz, but it's the audience left broken in yet another "alien v. Earth" story that has a better trailer than plot.  Michelle Rodriquez, Bridgette Moynahan, Jim Parrack (Hoyt from True Blood) and Ne-Yo top off this crowded cast.  Directed by Johnathan Liebesman, the film appeals visually, but falls short in character development.  

Told to "take out anything that's not human," the film is eerily reminiscent of a decent video game (rated M for maturity of course) and does a great job promoting patriotism (Go Marines!) but the story line is about as fresh as month old milk.  If you're going to make a movie, spend the fx budget and hire a decent cast...then make it worth your time.  

It's amazing that aliens can nearly wipe out mankind, but television stations like CNN are still up & running while the sky is falling.  This raises two points: 1) are newsies tougher than Marines? and 2) alien forces should probably strive to take out Atlanta first.

Woo hoo, free things!
Battle LA's saving grace is that it is a beautiful film.  Shot in the gritty off-the-shoulder manner of FX's The Shield, it's action packed, full of great camera shots and riddled with sublime special effects.  The only bummer...you never really much more than a few wide shots of Los Angeles.  Why bother setting a movie in a beautiful, recognizable location and not take advantage of the famous zip code?  

Even though our little group caught a free t-shirt & movie poster...we weren't convinced. This movie will hit the mark with high school boys and those looking for a mindless Redbox or Netflix night, but don't expect more than the basics.  

Here's a look at a great trailer for a bad movie:


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