BioBooksAwardsComing NextContactBlogFun StuffHome

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Battle Los Angeles

When Battle Los Angeles first came out, I was tempted by the television ads to watch it in the theater. I'm just not much for going out to movies. Not only is it expensive, but I'm so picky about storyline, that I have a hard time with a lot of films. Recently, however, the movie came out on DVD/Pay Per View and I was seeing all those ads again that made me think I really want to see this. There were some mediocre reviews and I hesitated, but I finally decided to stream it on Friday night.

The storyline is pretty simple. Aliens invade Earth and are technologically superior to us. (Of course they are. They traveled light years through space to get here and we've gone to our moon.) They're here to wipe out all sentient life on our planet in order to take our resources. An expert on one of the inserted news clips in the movie says it's a standard ploy to eradicate life on the planet you want to strip. I'm not too sure about that, but it doesn't matter. Later, in another pseudo news clip, we hear that they've come for our water and that our planet is the only one in our solar system that has it on the surface.

Okay, alien invasion with multiple mother ships filled with flying drones and armored alien warriors inserting near large population centers around the world. Our hero is Staff Sergeant Nantz of the US Marines. He's served in the Middle East and is the only survivor of his squad. He feels responsible for the deaths of the other men and is dealing with some issues. He's assigned to a new unit under a brand new lieutenant. He's informed by other men in his unit not to trust Nantz.

It turns out the military is in over their heads against the superior forces and technology of the aliens. Our group of US Marines immediately takes losses. As they try to reach a central point to regroup, they pick up some civilians hiding in the police station and soldiers from other branches of the service, including a US Air Force sergeant who ends up playing a significant role as the story goes on.

I love action/adventure movies where there's a lot of suspense and tension. This one certainly fit that category. The tension starts early and it just intensifies throughout the entire film. There was pretty much no downtime from the suspense. Even when the group found somewhere that seemed secure to treat their wounded, we knew it wouldn't last long. Those aliens could find them wherever they were. TBH, the unrelenting tension almost became too much. I would have liked a breather now and then and I just didn't get one.

There was no romance of any sort in this movie, which you maybe guessed since I said there was no downtime from the suspense. I thought there might be one brewing between Nantz and one of the civilians, but if the writers planned to use that, it was dropped. I'm not sure they could have squeezed it in with everything else that was going on, but I did miss it.

There were a couple of things I thought were plot holes. For example, the aliens are here for our water, yet their ships and other modes of transportation run on water. My thought was that if a resource was scarce, wouldn't they create ships that ran on some other fuel? Now that we've dealt with the high-cost of oil on Earth, I keep reading about biofuels. We're looking for alternative sources, so it seemed to me the aliens would have done this as well. It's much more cost effective to create a new source of power than to travel light years and invade another planet.

But this was a minor quibble--all the plot issues I had were minor--and didn't subtract from my enjoyment of the film. This isn't meant to be taken a serious movie, IMO; it's meant to be pure entertainment/fun. And I was happy to go right along with this and not nitpick as I watched.

Some of the movie left me thinking of Independence Day--how the alien invasion was staged, how we were overwhelmed and beaten, how a small group of men make a difference, the general look of the aliens and their ships--to name a few. It's hard to compare the two movies, though, despite this because Battle Los Angeles wasn't trying for any of the humor that filled Independence Day. This movie also didn't focus on more than one storyline. Everything revolves around this single group of marines.

Battle Los Angeles also gave me a few moments where I teared up and I'm not a crybaby when it comes to entertainment--not movies or books. While ID tried for a few emotional moments, I never got felt them while I watched that movie. I think maybe this could be attributable to the focus put on the hero, SSgt Nantz and some of the others on the team. I really grew to like Nantz and Lieutenant Martinez and the USAF sergeant--the only military woman in the film.

A quick comment about our lone military woman, Sgt. Elena Santos. (Yes, I had to pop over to IMDB and look that name up.) I really liked her role in this movie. She might have been shot down and lost the rest of her team, but she's nobody's pushover. She fights beside the marines with as much fervor as they do and she is instrumental throughout Battle LA. I don't want to give any spoilers away, but nothing good happens without her. I hope that's vague enough. Also, the other female character, the one I thought might have a relationship brewing with Nantz, was also strong. She's a veterinarian and she's the one who helps them learn how to kill the aliens. She also doesn't act like a victim and given how Hollywood tends to portray women in general, I was happy that this film avoided making the women weak.

I also liked the ending of the movie. A lot. I won't say more because of spoilers, but it left me feeling good.

If you're looking for a couple of hours of mindless, fun-filled suspense, I can recommend Battle Los Angeles. It's not going to be nominated for an Oscar, that's a given, but it was an enjoyable way to spend the evening and I give it a thumbs up.