Movies like Battle: Los Angeles (BLA from here on out) are why I stopped listening to critics (for the most part, spill.com is often hilarious). BLA is getting blasted by critics everywhere and frankly, I don’t understand it, I had a lot of fun.
BLA follows the exploits of a small marine squad who’s tasked with the rescue of a group of civilians hold up at a police station after the aliens attacked and the city evacuated. There’s no overreaching strategy on the worldwide effort to repel the alien invaders. This is about the battle for Los Angeles, and at first a fairly minor aspect of that.
The brass has decided the city is lost and the Air Force is going to carpet bomb the place in 3 hours. With the clock ticking the squad heads out to find the civilians and get them out of there. This is very much a ‘man in the field’ movie. There’s no peek into the Oval Office with the Secretary of Defense pleading with the President to ‘make the call’ and bomb LA. No, the highest ranking main character is a Second Lieutenant just out of OCS Training. His babysitter is veteran Staff Sergeant Nantz. The film centers on Nantz (Arron Eckhart, The Dark Knight), he’s burnt out after his last deployment and nearing retirement. There’s a few scenes to assign some of the other characters their cliché: the engaged one, the virgin, the green lieutenant, the tough chick (Michelle Rodriguez, who else?).
One thing I especially like about BLA is the treatment of the civilians. Often in movies like this we see the civilians are assholes and you don’t really want them saved. They blame their rescuers as if they had anything to do with the alien invasion of earth. There’s usually a gangbanger with a chip on his shoulder. Here, the Latino is a caring dad who chastises his young son for saying ‘damn’.
I’ve seen complaints about shaky cams and no real info about the worldwide effort. Bullshit. This movie is about this particular squad, I highly doubt the a lowly marine squad would have info on the overall war. They have their mission, that’s what they worry about. As for the camera, Cloverfield this is not.
That’s not to say the film is perfect. It suffers from same logic fail problems most alien attack movies have. Why don’t they just unleash an orbital bombardment and wipe us out from the safety of space? It’d be a short, boring and depressing movie, that’s why. The designs for the aliens are a bit lackluster as well. The alien soldiers remind me of Bioshock and the alien tech seems almost.. steampunk. They use bullets and super rockets, not lasers and shields.
Still, I had fun. I’m hesitant to give it a higher score since I’m not sure how repeat viewings will fair, but it’s definitely worth a watch.
4 out of 5 Stars