Review: Battle: Los Angeles
Looking at the critical reception for Battle: Los Angeles, it’s surprising to see how vitriolic some of the criticism was. Battle: LA is not a good film but neither is it a terrible one.
You can boil Battle down to this – a marine platoon faces off against an alien invasion in Los Angeles. From the off Battle has made its bed that it’s going to be a fast and furious fight.
Jonathan Liebesman (Darkness Falls), throws the viewer into the invasion bringing immediacy and reality to the situation… and then jumps back in the past which curtails the film’s momentum.
It’s here where we’re dealt with some cliched character introductions. Here’s the soldier who’s a few days away from retirement, another who has a pregnant wife, here’s the one who’s about to be married, the young marine who’s never had a drink.
It’s all the characterisation these characters get, with the script omitting any idea of character building moments, which makes one wonder why this section is even here. Why not start the film with the battle and learn more about in the heat of conflict? There are too many characters for the film to adequately service. Try to remember the names and faces of the characters and they all fade into an indistinguishable blur.
The action scenes fare better, mixing Paul Greengrass’ shaky cam aesthetic and the explosive, gritty feel of Michael Bay. For the first few instances it’s an exciting mix, bur descends into a mash of images as the geography of the earlier action scenes gives way to absolute chaos. The latter action sequences disappoint as they lack genuine drama, suspense and imagination.
Despite the problems, Battle: LA entertains. Perhaps it’s the ludicrous situation jarring with the authentic feel (somewhat like District 9) that makes it fun. While ‘leaving your brain at the door’ could easily be applied to this, it is just another example of a throwaway film – a fast food meal served up on the screen.
A side note for any alien invaders. Don’t bother engaging us on the ground. Just nuke Earth from orbit. It’ll save you a lot of trouble.