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Christopher Webster [Celluloid 03.11.11] movie review apocalyptic scifi

Year: 2011
Directors: Jonathan Liebesman
Writers: Christopher Bertolini
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: agentorange
Rating: 8 out of 10

If you're going into Battle: Los Angeles expecting Blackhawk Down 2: Attack of the Saucer Men, rest assured that's exactly what you're going to get. Director Johnathan Liebesman promised us a combat-heavy alien invasion movie and he delivers on the intensity and action in spades, putting you so close to "the shit" that you'll wish you strapped on a helmet before entering the theatre.

Battle: L.A. is a war movie first and a science fiction movie second, which is probably why it works so well. It's essentially a mission movie about a platoon that's sent into the hot zone following the invasion to rescue civilians from a cop shop. They have three hours to get in and get out before the military fries the whole coastline to cut off the advancing alien army. Of course, once they cross the line into enemy territory it turns into a complete cluster f#&@. The enemy is fast, smart, nearly impossible to take down and are here for one reason: Kill all humans.

In the first couple encounters with the aliens you'll probably strain your eyes to catch a glimpse of the critters through all the smoke and shaky cam. Yes, Liebesman taunts us in the beginning, but rest assured Batlle: LA opens up to show you everything and more of the alien culture, their insane ships and hardware and even command centres. And unlike Skyline you can tell that a lot of thought went into the archetecture of the species and their vehicles- how they work and why. Personally I loved the alien designs. Their equipment feels low-tech and clunky and seems to adhere to the laws of physics unlike in most film. They also use projectile weapons which adds to the film's interest in keeping the situation feeling like a war pic. Also, the special FX work is extremely good. Lots of devastation and detail going on, so much so that you'll have to see it twice to soak it all in.

Some critics have argued that there isn't enough character development in the movie. A fair point, but considering the film takes place over a matter of only four or five hours and the characters are stuck in a frikin' war zone(!) you'd think they would be a little more understanding about not getting too many soliloquies about backstory. As it stands there are two or three fairly powerful character moments which feel like enough considering the gravity of what's happening in this world. You like these marines, you hate the aliens and that's enough.

Unfortunatley Liebesman and writer Christopher Bertolini haven't totally reinvented the wheel here. The ending still has a hint of 'put a virus on the mother ship' only here it comes down to firepower and pure force of will. Having said that, the final confrontation is a staggering display of visual FX and action filmaking.

The bottom line is that many critics are being undully harsh on Battle: LA and are taking great joy in making it their newest whipping boy. My advice to them is stick to ironic indie rom-coms and Rango - film's they seem to have a vocabulary for - and leave earnest science fiction action to the experts. Me? Well, If you've read my bio, you'll know I like "post apocalyptic alien bloobaths," and Battle: LA is the most intense, action packed alien invasion movie to date. I serioulsy can't think of another that tops it in terms of non-stop intensity. Moments of War of the Worlds are on par, certainly the end of D9 stacks up, but in Battle: LA the action is tight, the FX work is top notch and the performances are rock solid. I'm dying to see a sequel to this.

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Marc McKenzie (11 years ago) Reply

Thank you--great review. It's pretty much the same thoughts I had about the film. Liked it a lot, thought the end scene was pretty cool--sequel, anyone? And the action was insane.

It's a great popcorn muncher, and that's what I went in to see. The critics can savage this all they want (just like they did with BLADE RUNNER and THE THING back in the day) but B: LA never had any pretensions; they said they were making a gritty action-packed alien invasion film, and that's what they delivered. Not perfect, but it sure was awesome.

Nose in the air/head up the @$$ critics need not apply.


Michael Allen (11 years ago) Reply

I reviewed this film also and the link is above.

I felt the need to address the critics on this one too. What do critics expect to see in B: LA? Shakespeare mixed with sci-fi? If you make an action thriller, then characterizations suffer, a little. I think that I am going to stay off Rotten Tomatoes for awhile, after reading reviews on this one. Accurate review here.



Larry (11 years ago) Reply

As the father of a young Marine, I couldn't help but get very pulled into the mission of this young platoon. I found myself struggling with emotions and yet filled with a sense of pride for the USMC and all who go into harms way when the order is given. This film is really about this platoon and their place in this conflict. They may not have gotten all the vernacular and military things exact, but they certainly did get the heart of it. I appreciated the fact that Eckhart even wore his helmet throughout the film. Not many stars do that. And the reference to John Wayne was priceless. My wife and I enjoyed the film very much for what it is and shared usually silent thoughts about our son's duty.


Diggler (11 years ago) Reply

What a challenge it has been trying to talk the wife into going to see this. She saw another realistic review and changed her mind. I'll have to also point her towards this to seal the deal!


judo37 (11 years ago) Reply

This movie makes me wonder what Liebesman
could do with the book "STARSHIP TROOPERS"


Anonymous (11 years ago) Reply

I agree w/ your comments. Battle L.A. was awesome. It's a war movie w/ a sci-fi background, not a sci-fi movie. Unlilke Skyline it's possible to fight back & kill the aliens, although it is very difficult, there is hope. Of course, the war is not going to be easy & there will be many battles to be fought before we achieve victory. I found myself crying at times & cheering hoorah when the Marines scored kills. Don't listen to the critics & go see Battle L.A.


Anonymous (11 years ago) Reply

Finally, a review that actually sums up what this movie is all about. Critics hell!


Anonymous (11 years ago) Reply

Ive seen this film and it is the most action packed film ive ever seen.I dont care about getting to know the characters, all i care about is the action and the way the army kills the aliens


Anonymous (11 years ago) Reply

Great movie. Ton of fun. One of the best alien invasion movies I've seen. I liked the alien designs. Different yet very interesting.


Anonymous (10 years ago) Reply

It blows my mind how some commenters are even comparing this to Blade Runner and The Thing. Even the comparison with Starship Troopers is an atrocity.

This movie is utter crap. Horrible acting, cheesy and very poor SF at that.

Like some commenters above has said, yes it is a piece of militaristic propaganda. Nothing else.

Stay away.

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