Aliens no match for Aaron Eckhart in “Battle: Los Angeles”
It may be derivative as all get-out, but by setting its “aliens attack” mayhem on the streets of Santa Monica and casting the always sturdy Aaron Eckhart as its “hoo-rah” Marine hero, “Battle: Los Angeles” gives itself a leg up on similar fare and winds up being better than expected.
While it’s no “Black Hawk Down” or even “War of the Worlds,” two films that are obvious influences, you could make an argument it is smarter with better special effects than 2009’s somewhat overrated “District 9.”
What was first believed to be meteors crashing into Earth (according to many real scientists the most plausible Earth-ending scenario) turns out to be an army of alien machines sent to colonize our planet and steal our water. As the title suggests, while havoc reigns worldwide, the story sticks to the streets of “La-La Land,” using some impressive CGI and detailed sets to convert coastal Santa Monica into a fairly believable war-ravaged suburb.
A team of marines are sent in to rescue civilians and eventually, predictably, it’s up to war-weary veteran Staff Sergeant Michael Nantz (Eckhart) to do the heavy lifting.
Sure, it’s easy to be cynical about the clichéd testosterone-fueled dialogue. But the characters feel real (if not original) and the action-gritty and very intense, especially for a PG-13 film-barely lets up. Don’t roll your eyes too much and you might even learn something about laser radar missile technology.
For those tired of the heavy-handed agendas and supposed political subtext of most military themed films coming out of Hollywood, “Battle: Los Angeles” wears its valor and vigor on its sleeve and dares to be unabashedly old-fashioned in its depiction of American heroism. The spirit of “Semper Fi” hasn’t been this much fun in a long time.
Rated PG-13 for sustained and intense sequences of war violence and destruction, and for language.