Written by: Chris Bertolini
Directed by: Jonathan Liebesman
Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Ramón Rodríguez, Michelle Rodriguez, and Cory Hardrict
Now I know you’ve all been waiting on pins and needles for me to review this, so I’m happy to say it’s finally here. For those of review who read that sentence and have no idea what I’m talking about, I suppose I should explain. Back in March I did a post with my thoughts of the Academy Awards ceremony. I wrote it pretty quickly, but at the end I decided to add, “Coming soon: Battle: Los Angeles Review”. I thought it be cool to put something like that in, and I had full intentions of seeing it in theaters and reviewing it. But then reviews started coming out calling it garbage. At the same time, films like The Adjustment Bureau and Rango were getting very solid reviews. Having limited time and money, I chose to see those films instead (click for my opinions on The Adjustment Bureau and Rango).
But since it was recently released on DVD, I felt like it was about time I check it out and fulfill my promise to review it. Battle: Los Angeles tells the story of a group of marines struggling to rescue survivors and see them through an alien invasion. The squad is led by Staff Sergeant Michael Nantz (Aaron Eckhart), who was the only survivor of his last mission.
That’s probably the shortest story recap I’ve ever written. Probably because the movie has no real plot. It has a setup, and a setting, and some characters. That’s probably the films biggest flaw. It feels like the writer wanted to do an alien invasion movie, but didn’t have any ideas outside of that. The one good idea the writer did seem to have was making it such a military based film. Showing things from that perspective is a good idea, even if I don’t think it hits it’s full potential here. I also do really like how the film doesn’t cop out with a deus ex machina ending like so many alien invasion films do.
Some times films with little to no story can still work if they’re full of great characters. Unfortunately that isn’t the case here. While all of the actors do a decent job with what they’re given, the characters aren’t very well defined. They don’t qualify as archetypes, hell, they barely qualify as stereotypes. They’re just sort of there. This is another of the film’s great flaws. I really didn’t care about any of the soldiers and never batted an eye when one of em bit the dust. This is a huge problem when the primary goal of your characters is survival. I should care, I should be invested in the characters, and I should be affected when someone dies. But the writing just isn’t there.
One thing I will say the film does well is the action. There are several shoot outs, and all of them are fast-paced, frantic, and intense. For all the film’s problems, the action could usually entertain me. Though these scenes are hurt by the lack of character development. If I had cared about the characters, these scenes would have had much more suspense. The film also relies too much on it’s action, which begins to hurt it as the film goes on.
Battle: Los Angeles is not even two hours, yet the film feels too long. With no story, the film begins to feel tiresome. There are two main solutions I can think of. One would be to have more well rounded and developed characters. This would intern make it easier to become invested in the story. The other would be to scale the story down to just a subplot and part of a larger story. I think either would have resulted in a better film.
While it probably sounds like I hated the film, I didn’t really. It certainly isn’t good, and skipping it’s theatrical run was a smart move on my part, but it still has it’s moments. If you think you’d be interested in this, by all means rent it, you don’t have much to lose. But at the same time, if you don’t see it, you’re not really missing much either.
For more reviews, check out PG Cooper’s Movie Reviews.