As I wrote in my review on “Skyline“, no matter how terrible every 2011 alien
invasion film is, they will all be better than this one“. “I AM NUMBER Four” was actual-
ly the first extraterrestrial pic of the year, but it wasn’t on the same massive assault le-
vel as “ Battle: Los Angels” which as I hoped, was considerably more satisfying than
Skyline in every aspect. I was quite relieved as I’m sure others were too.
Anyone who has watched the many trailers for Battle L.A. probably remembers
that the film itself is based on archival footage of ufo sightings over Los Angeles, Lon-
don, Korea and other places during this century and the last. Their purpose for being
here had never been determined, so the movie offers an explanation. It’s apparent their
arrival is not a social call.
Cutting back 24 hours before the invasion, Battle Los Angeles gives you time
to warm up ahead of the real action to follow. The main cast (except for Michelle Rod-
riguez) is introduced to us during this period in modest succession with all their perso-
nal baggage. We see the general population in routine mode while in the background
tv announcers are forecasting meteor showers off the east and west coasts of the U.S.
When it’s discovered that these “meteors” are destroying our naval ships and
depositing life forms in the ocean who begin a Normandy like assault on us, our entire
military is mobilized against them. And naturally, fighting them will not be a cakewalk.
Much to his apparent chagrin, almost retiree, marine staff sergeant Michael
Nantz (Aaron Eckhart) is ordered back to duty to lead a special rescue mission into
the city of angels. Some civilians are trapped in a police station and must be evacuated
to the nearest military base. It’s at this point where the film is immersed with kinetic
energy as Nantz, a war green 2nd lieutenant and their band of soldiers fight for their lives
and others against an alien race that is not , thank God, totally immune to our weapon-
Viscerally edited camera work that looks more like CNN newsreel footage
has a special way of drawing you into the film itself. Unfortunately, it can also be quite
dizzying. But director Jonathan Liebsman his Texas Chainsaw Massacre cinemato-
grapher Lukas Ettlin and Fast Five editor Christian Wagner try not to overdo it, handling
explosive shoot outs between us and them with a little visual confusion while giving your
eyes a chance to chill out during the dramatic scenes.
Thankfully Aaron Elkhart (remember him as Two-Face in Batman The Dark
Knight?) does drama as well as action. He holds his men and the movie together as ma-
rine Ssg Nantz, a man with a certain past his subordinates are extremely wary of. One
year the academy may recognize his talents and nominate him for an Oscar.
Throughout the chaotic melee’ of bullets and particle beams, Nantz’s squad
is joined by Michelle Rodriguez’s Elena Santos, an Air Force Tech Sgt assigned to re-
con all alien positions. She gives her all to the squad, convincing you that she’ s just
as gung ho as her male co-horts when it comes to combat. Sorry guys, no shedding of
clothes. Michelle stays in uniform.
Fierce camera work does not preclude our alien foes from performing well
either, thanks of course to the high tech special f/x. What makes them extra menacing
and a bit intriguing, are their destructive assaults on land and sea as well as air. After se-
eing many sci-fi features where space invaders seem not to consider the first two ven-
ues for attack, it’s rather scary actually seeing them on the ground going mano a mano
with our boys.
Some are describing Battle: L.A. as Skyline meets something else. I would
not even include Skyline in this grand volatile mix that boasts more of Independence
Day meets Aliens than anything else.