Marine staff sergeant Nantz (Aaron Eckhart) is a highly decorated and experienced soldier but one who is struggling to come to terms with what is perceived to have been a tactical failure on his part leading to the deaths of those under his command during a recent tour of duty. Haunted by the deaths of his platoon and the damage to his once stellar reputation Nantz hands in his notice of retirement to his superior so once he’s trained a group of new recruits he will leave behind the only life he has known for many years. However, as is common is such circumstances Nantz is required to be involved in one last mission as a series of meteors are set to land off the coast of some of the world’s largest cities.
It soon transpires that these aren’t meteors; they are in fact alien invaders looking to colonise earth and wipe out its population. With cities across the world falling rapidly it’s made absolutely clear that Los Angeles can’t be lost (obviously). Nantz is assigned to a new platoon under a rookie Lieutenant and amongst a number of marines sceptical of him and his reputation for leaving men behind. The team are sent on a mission to retrieve a group of civilians from an area heavily occupied by alien forces and escape within 3 hours before the area is razed to the ground by the air force.
For all intents and purposes it’s a typical war movie, albeit one with extraterrestrial antagonists. The mixing of the genres is for the most part very effective; however it fails to reach the peak of either of the genres at its heart. Still, The pace of the film is pretty relentless once the action kicks in a few minutes into the film and there are times where I found myself wanting for some down time in between the barrage of action set pieces, however it could easily be argued that it’s an effective way of portraying the relentlessness of war.
The dialogue throughout is largely utter nonsense; typical chest thumping military speak with the odd sprinkling of strong cheese. It’s almost amusing seeing the likes of Aaron Eckhart struggling to deliver a host of nonsense lines whilst playing it completely straight. It’s not inconceivable that this is very much a film where the set up and effects were the primary focus and silly things such as performances and dialogue were way down on the list of priorities.
Given the controversy surrounding this and Skyline it’s impossible to avoid comparisons between the two and I have to say that Battle: Los Angeles is superior in pretty much every way. I liked the idea behind Skyline and how the aliens took control of the humans but beyond that I found little to enjoy. I’ll acknowledge the numerous flaws of Battle: Los Angeles but the end product makes for a much more enjoyable viewing experience than Skyline.
Battle: Los Angeles certainly isn’t a film for everyone which you get a good idea on based on the critical reaction to the film but if you, like me, were put off from seeing the film at the cinema based on said reviews I would encourage you to seek it out and form your own opinion. It’s not a masterpiece by any means but that’s not really what it’s aiming for; it’s a solid action movie that a few years ago would have been an ideal summer blockbuster release.
It’s big, loud and not particularly clever but if you’re willing to switch your brain off and take the film as it comes you should have a good time with it.
Film – (3/5)
At first glance the Battle: Los Angeles Blu-Ray appears to offer a wealth of extras that really dig into the production but in reality the extras here are as shallow as the film itself. Only two of the extras go over ten minutes and only three are exclusives to the format. They offer little insight so should be avoided unless you were particularly blown away by the film.
Other format exclusives include Movie IQ which should be familiar to anyone who has viewed a Sony Blu-ray release in the past; basically it acts as an IMDB lite offering up to date information on cast and crew as well as trivia. One exclusive that is of particular interest is Command Control which is a nice twist on the usual directors commentary tracks by utilising a picture in picture track that shows off cast and crew interviews and early storyboards. This kind of thing is again commonplace on big Blu-Ray releases but when done well, as it is here, it’s worth highlighting.
PS3 owners are treated to a theme, Demo and trailer for the upcoming console exclusive Resistance 3, which is appropriate given the thematic similarities between the titles.
Where the Blu-Ray really comes into its own is with its picture and sound which really are excellent and near perfect. Despite the best efforts of the shaky cam deployed throughout the film the clarity of the picture transfer allows you to see exactly what’s going on with a great deal of clarity. There are times however where the picture is too clear for its own good as it highlights some of the shortcomings with the films special effects. However this is picking faults in what otherwise is demo quality stuff.
The sound is also of demo standard as the mix between the effects and dialogue is near perfect with neither becoming compromised. Utilising the 5.1 DTS-HD mix is an immersive experience with it seeming as though bullets and explosions are missing you by inches.
The quality of the Blu-Ray release more than justifies the price lift over DVD and if it was based purely on the picture and sound this would be 5 star stuff, however considering the relatively weak showing on the extras front on balance a 4 star rating is appropriate in this instance.
Disc – (4/5)