I like alien films, I also like army films. This alien/army film, oh the joy!
I try to never put spoilers in my reviews, and this review is no different. However if I was to say that Battle L.A. is Black Hawk Down meets Independence day, I've kind of given the game away. But seriously, if you've seen the trailer then you've pretty much seen the film anyway.
The film has cliche after cliche. It's actually quite funny how many are in there, even down to the fact that our hero; Staff Sergeant Nantz (Aaron Eckhardt) is on his very last day before retirement when alien invasion ensues, what rotten luck. I'd like to tell you all about each and every generic back story and super obvious plot development but you can check it out yourselves and we can all share later, for now just know that they don't ruin the film.
Not many alien invasion films are original, the President is always wrestling with his conscience, our hero always manages to survive against enormous odds (as does his girlfriend and the dog) and America always finds a way through the attackers defenses. With regard to alien films; Battle: L.A. manages to divert from the traditional, we start with our platoon and we stick with them; how we fight the aliens is explained and makes sense; nothing is mentioned of the soldiers lives outside the platoon; the girlfriend and the dog are not given pointless screen time, we are left to assume their fate. It does however stick to the formula when it comes to army films, high fives and hoo ra's every time an enemy minion is taken down; bad ass girl with a gun; going beyond the call of duty; hollow characters with a lack of development (barring Nantz). As an army film it is kind of obvious.
I kind of liked it, I went to the cinema with my baby boy in tow who seemed to get a kick from all the noise. And what noise, the sound is fantastic, gunshots sound real and countered by the often immediate silences or 'ringing in your ears' effect gives an feeling that when teamed with the first person (shaky) camera puts you as 'on edge' as the characters themselves. The special effects are great too. The aliens appear to wear a sort of reverse scuba suit so that they can breath our air, they are believably conceived enemy soldiers and they move and interact like sentient beings. Their technology appears to have had thought put into it too, individual ships break away and fit to each other like jigsaw pieces and side arms are surgically attached. Nice.
Whether you see this (like many reviews that I have read) as yet another film to enhance the American populations fear of the foreigner or as I do, just a good honest extra-terrestrial war film, it was always going to be a no brainer. It did deliver more than I was expecting, though it clearly could have been better. The writing let it down, and it didn't have to, the flaws are obvious and plenty and should have been weeded out early on.
Oh and Ne-Yo is in it, weird.