Clearly I enjoy watching aliens descend from space and mess up the Planet Earth. I see that there’s no avoiding this for me. I enjoyed ‘Skyline’. Not a lot of other folks did, but I did. It could be that I despise the city of Los Angeles so much that watching it get destroyed over and over again brings me joy, but I’m sure that’s not it. I enjoyed this movie, ‘Battle: Los Angeles’, even more and I’m sure it’s not because Los Angeles gets it even worse this time around, but because it’s an all around better movie. Not that anybody anywhere would agree with me on this. But this movie is less an Alien Invasion flick and more along the lines of an old school war movie. In fact, I’d even go so far as to call it a glorified U.S. Marines propaganda film. Hoo-rah!
Hardcore U.S. Marine Staff Sergeant Michael Nantz (Aaron Eckhart) is shutting it down after twenty plus years of dedicated service to man and country. Whatever. Comets have descended upon the Planet Earth, something that normally would’ve been seen by astronomers years in advance, but just being noticed by our sucky astronomers a few hours ago. I’m thinking these aren’t comets. Once these ‘comets’ slowed down in speed upon entering our atmosphere I would’ve nuked them immediately, but that’s the War Hawk in me coming out.
What we have here are alien invaders and they have really bad intentions and it doesn’t look like they are all that interested in taking prisoners. We spent a few moments before the alien onslaught getting to know a few of our brave fighting men, the corporal about to get married, the officer on his first command with the pregnant wife, the fresh faced kid just out of high school, the damaged marine who holds Sergeant Nantz personally responsible for the death of his Marine brother… but we know meeting them was just to give their eventual deaths some impact.
The aliens have taken San Diego and San Francisco but we cannot let them have Los Angeles! Because they will steal our smog! Marines… mount up. In three hours the Air Force is going to hit the Sands of Santa Monica with every bomb they have and our marines are given the task of rescuing the citizens that are stuck in the blast zone. The
problem, as they will find out, is that the enemy is fast, vicious, heavily armed and seemingly omnipresent. The only advantage that our forces have is that they have no air support and we will rule the skies. Uh… command… They flew here from outer space. But what do I know? Oh look… armed spaceships.
Mission number one for our marines: Get the civilians out of the blast zone and make it to the nearest Forward Operating Base which is a Safe Zone. Another thing I’m curious about is if the Aliens are aware of the Safe Zone? They do know they are not supposed to blow that up via the Geneva Convention Treaties, correct? These aliens are apparently not hip to that. Mission Number Two for our Marines… with the tide securely on the side of the aliens, with the aliens using our almost unlimited supply of water for fuel, with our forces in a permanent state of retreat… the next mission is to do the impossible. Find the alien command center and destroy it. There’s a lot involved with this that we are not going to get into, but if our five or six surviving marines and the hot Air Force Tech Sergeant (Michelle Rodriguez) they picked up along the way can do this… the balance of this one day war will shift dramatically. Can they do it? It is a Marine Propaganda film, remember? Hoo-rah.
We’ve discussed this before but if you’re new to this I’m not a real film critic, just some random dude who goes to the movies. To further distance myself from legitimacy I have stopped going to critics screenings of these movies, paying my hard earned dollar to get into the show, just like the majority of you good people. The proletariat. I only mention this because the majority of legitimate film critics despise this movie. In fact the first and last word in film criticism since before many of us were even born, Roger Ebert, who probably writes about as well as anybody ever, made the comment that anybody who enjoyed ‘Battle: Los Angeles’ is an ‘Idiot’. I’m paraphrasing a bit but that’s what my man said. A bit harsh perhaps but he is Roger Ebert and he’s earned the right to say whatever the hell he wants.
I am here today to inform you good people that under that criteria I am indeed an idiot, though most of you who have read some of these pages before are already well aware of this. ‘Battle: Los Angeles’ is not original in any way, shape or form. It is a movie about fighting men and women overcoming impossible odds to persevere, so how original can it be? The task given to director Jonathan Liebesman is to take this tired, well worn concept and attempt to make something out of it that is entertaining, and I’m of the opinion that he pulled that off.
The truth of the matter is that the aliens aren’t all that important in this movie. They could be Nazis or Russians or Japanese invaders and Los Angeles could be anywhere as well. We just needed an oppressive unbeatable enemy for our soldiers to engage and a foothold for them to defend. That’s the movie. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s not complex and it’s certainly not intelligent… we rule the skies? Please. They used to make these movies all the time back in the forties, fifties and sixties and while I’m not saying ‘Battle: Los Angels’ is ‘The Dirty Dozen’ or ‘The Green Berets’, the same concepts apply. Tortured hero, backs against the wall, unbeatable odds, untold sacrifice, indomitable spirit… perseverance. All handled at a breakneck pace. It only slows down long enough for Aaron Eckhart to give us a couple of Lee Marvin-esque styled inspirational speeches.
Take anything I say, or what anybody says for that matter, with a grain a salt. I’m partial to Alien Invasion movies, War movies and I love it when some dude gives an inspirational speech urging his people to kill something for the greater good. That’s outstanding. I’ve seen this movie before, and so have you, and we’ve seen it done better. But that didn’t make ‘Battle: Los Angeles’ any less entertaining for this idiot over here.