New on DVD: Battle: Los Angeles

By Robert S. DeSalvo

The latest film from director Jonathan Liebesman has the look and feel of a second-rate video game.

Creator: Jonathan Liebesman MPAA Rating: PG-13 Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Are you feeling really gung ho about war and kicking alien butt? If so, slap some red meat on the grill, crack open a beer and you might find something to like in director Jonathan Liebesman’s mash-up of Independence Day and Saving Private Ryan, but don’t get too excited—it’s nowhere near as good as either of those films.

Square-jawed Aaron Eckhart plays Sgt. Michael Nantz—a 20-year Marine veteran who is about to retire when meteors begin crashing into the ocean near Earth’s major cities. It’s soon discovered that the meteors are actually extraterrestrial spacecrafts carrying hostile aliens that want to rape the planet’s water supply. The staff sergeant is told that the military has lost contact with the rest of the cities on the West Coast and that Los Angeles must not fall, so Nantz as his platoon drop into Santa Monica and try to move the civilians that they find to a forward operating base at the Santa Monica airport.

Along the way his platoon teams up with some National Guard soldiers and Air Force Technical Sergeant Elena Santos (Michelle Rodriguez), who is tracking alien transmissions. If she can help the platoon take out an alien command center, the world might have a chance to make more craptastic alien-invasion movies like this one and Skyline.

All of the actors in Battle: Los Angeles deserve better and are drowning in corny dialogue, like when a rescued woman observes soldiers dragging in a wounded alien and utters, “I might be able to help…I’m a veterinarian.” She then helpfully adds, “That looks like an organ” as the soldiers start an impromptu autopsy. Thanks, doll…we needed someone with a degree for that. In another groan-inducing, faux-emotional scene, Eckhart gets all choked up reciting the names and tag numbers of every soldier he has lost in battle. It seems to go on for an eternity until Eckhart abruptly stops and says, “But none of this is important right now.” Really? Thanks for sharing…and padding this movie’s excessive 116-minute runtime.

For all the swelling music, sensitive soldiers, rah-rah patriotism, incessant gunfire and shaky-cam effects meant to convey “intense action,” it’s difficult to feel anything but numbness about this noisy, dumb exercise that looks and feels like a second-rate videogame. Give that steak that you’re cooking the respect it deserves and chew on something meatier than this.

Best extras: Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain “Behind the Battle,” “Aliens in L.A.,” “Preparing for Battle” and “Creating L.A. in LA;” the BD exclusives include “Directing the Battle,” “The Freeway Battle” and a featurette on the boot camp the actors had to go through. The BD also has “Command Control” picture-in-picture functionality that lets users access interactive content like storyboard comparisons and “Battle Points” like a behind-the-scenes look at the film’s alien autopsy while watching the movie.


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