The Movie: 6.5/10
Aliens blowing the shit out of humans, I can always get behind this kind of movie. Give me a time and a place and I’ll bring the popcorn and my alien loving imagination. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to see humans being defeated. What I get a tingle in my nether regions about is the whole “it’s us against them” theme we are all familiar with if we have seen enough alien invations flicks in our lifetimes.
Battle Los Angeles is a take on the idea from a different perspective, which I appreciate. A group of Marines in LA are called to action when an unknown enemy that’s otherworldly starts to attack the biggest ocean side cities on the planet. We don’t know why, we don’t know how, and that’s how it should be. Go along for the ride and the guts and the glory of it and you will have a good time. I did.
The cast varies from obviously expendable (as performers and as characters) to some really good moments. The main man, Eckhart plays a dude who’s on his way out of the Marines but is put back in to face this new enemy. He’s not in charge but clearly has has a troubled past as a leader, and he plays it all just right. He’s absolutely the best thing of the movie. Well, then there’s the dude from True Blood (He plays my favorite character on that show, Hoyt, falls in love with a teenage vampire virgin….oh, you haven’t seen it, unfortunate.) Jim Parrack is a young soldier with an obviously war torn past but we don’t have to see flashbacks or hear a long convoluted story. He does the emotions with little more than a flicker of his eyes and he brings a level of quality to every scene he’s in as we watch the battle of LA unfold.
The woman is uneventful for me. Bridget Moynahan is fine as far as her performance goes, but it’s a really tagged on character who is so conveniently plopped into the mix it’s almost comical. However, she’s also got enough umph of well thought out reactions and does her dialogue the service of not making it sound corny, so she gets a good score from me.
The special effects and sound are really the star of this show. I know it shouldn’t be true, but it is. Come on, it’s aliens from another planet coming to invade us with an unpleasant attitude. I want the action to match the sentiment. the aliens look awesome and the machines they bring are done so well I could have sworn they were props, but nope, all CGI. It’s a great time to be a movie lover. We can go on Netflix and watch movies from the beginning of cinema, over 100 years ago, and then plop in a disc that shows us a world in which modern day soldiers are battling interplanetary invaders and it looks amazing, real, believable, a spectacle to behold really. I’m not saying this movie is amazing on the whole. I did really enjoy it and add up all the elements it’s floating up there above average, teasing the idea of being a really good movie experience and just tapping on the door this side of being a great summer action flick , it’s just that it will fade from my memory in time. It was fun while it lasted though.
If I were to explain why it’s such a middle of the road movie I would say because it is missing a few key elements that make my alien movies stand out in my mind. First, i didn’t feel a global threat, and I do like to feel we are ALL in danger. Second some of the stereotyped characters were too weak to mix in with the quite strong and solid characters. That cheapened it. Third, some of the ideas like a man about to retire but pulled back in, the lucky fortune to find a certain kind of civilian to fill in a belabored plot point about how to kill the aliens, and the annoying optimism of the characters always thinking they would be safe if they just get to that one place the government says to go…no people, you won’t be safe!!! That’s about it really, but those things drag it down just enough so that the best parts shine big time and then it averages out to be what it is, as I said before, a fun summer alien invasion movie with some stand out moments.
- Behind The Battle – A short behind the scenes look at all aspects of the production.
- Aliens In LA – A 17 minute look at the design and creation of the aliens used in the movie.
- Preparing For Battle – A few of the actors from the movie yapping about how hard it was to train for the physical roles. (maybe the millions of dollars they get paid will stop them whining 🙂
- Creating LA In LA – Most of the movie was filmed in Louisiana, so they had to use trickery to make it look like LA.
- Directing The Battle – A very interesting piece that allows you to see the Directors pre planning that got him the job on this movie.
- Boot Camp – Guess what? They sent the actors on a boot camp to train for the movie!!! (Didn’t see that one coming)
- The Freeway Battle – A behind the scenes look at one of the biggest set pieces in the movie.
- Command Control (PIP) –Almost like Warner’s now established Maximum Movie Mode. This feature uses PIP and full screen presentations to walk you through the making of the movie as it plays using Concept art and full featurettes. The featurettes are also available seperatly and are called Battle Points.
- Movie IQ – Sony’s service that uses Gracenote to look up facts about the movie while it’s playing. Ever sat there going what movie was he in, well now you can check with the click of a button.
- DVD Copy Of The Movie – It’s a DVD copy of the movie for those times when you would rather watch a low res version of the movie.
- Resistance 3 Playable PS3 Demo (non combo version only) – The combo pack does not feature the PS3 resistance demo, you need to get the single disc Blu-Ray to play this eagerly awaited demo.
Cover Art and Menus: 4/10
The cover is a bit confusing visually. The actual LA cityscape is lost in the bottom part of the image and we see just some big machine looking thing crashing? Maybe? It’s not terrible but this movie does have some very awesome effects and aliens that are fairly unique (as far as our vision of aliens goes) so why not slap them on the cover? I wouldn’t have this as a poster, but I would have a poster of the aliens or of Eckhart in full gear….he’s kinda cute. The menu is boring.
Audio & Video: 9/10
Sony have honored Battle LA with one of the best transfers I have seen in the last few months. This blockbuster action packed special effects extravaganza looks incredible on Blu-Ray. The movie is mostly set in smoke filled suburban settings and is quite bland by design, colors are muted and the action seems like a war movie set in the middle east at times. The Blu-Ray transfer here is razor sharp and has amazing black levels, most of the movie takes place in broad daylight so little is left to the imagination. Sony have a knack of making other HD transfers look poor and Battle LA is no exception.
The audio on this release is also stunning, you will feel like you are in the middle of the action. Some stunning directional sound is present. One scene has explosions going off at various distances and you can actually feel where they are in relation to the picture just from the surround speakers. This is a very bombastic impressive track that you will show off to your friends.
You will get a lot of bang for your buck if you can find this movie for around $15. I think if you like this kind of action you will watch it many times and the extras are pretty hefty so you get your money’s worth. If you are just an alien watcher like me, rent it and enjoy it while you’ve got it on borrowed time and just a few bob (as the Brits say).
Overall Score 7/10