Wednesday, 30 March 2011

The Watcher - Battle: Los Angeles

Michael Nantz (Aaron Eckhart) a Marine Staff Sergeant who has had enough, blamed by most for the deaths of his previous platoon, he hands in his resignation. A man on his last day of the job, what can possibly go wrong?

Los Angeles and cities everywhere are being struck by what seem to be meteors, but they‘re slowing down before they hit. Earth is suddenly invaded by aliens that have landed off the shore of LA, and begin killing everybody along the beach.

The military are all ordered into action and Staff Sergeant Nantz is pulled back into service to assist 2nd Lieutenant Martinez (Ramon Rodriguez) and his platoon on a rescue mission to extract some civilians from a police station before the Air Force wipes out that zone. Things as they say don’t quite go to plan and the small band end up fighting to reclaim the city of Los Angeles.

Battle: LA plays very much like Independence Day meets District 9 - an action spectacular but not huge on plot. The movie doesn’t bury its lead and drops you right into the fray during a very Apocalypse Now chopper journey. It then flashes back to before the aliens hit and gives you a little introduction to each unit member; I enjoyed these scenes as I felt it gave the characters a bit of depth. Yes some of them are two-dimensional clichés with cheesy lines but hey, sometimes that doesn't matter. As long as the end result is still enjoyable and those darn aliens get some cannon fodder right?

Director Jonathan Liebesman does a brilliant job, keeping the action well choreographed, gripping and never allowing for the pace to slow during the action. One scene in particular where the Marines are battling on a freeway struggling to survive is exceptionally intense - the sombre orchestral score weaving emotion into the gaps.

Aaron Eckhart elevates this movie above average, his performance even with the cheesy lines is entirely convincing, he pulls off the square-jawed military hero excellently while Michelle Rodriguez adds her usual austere but still hot assistance. It was also nice to see Jim Parrack (Hoyt in True Blood) on the big screen be it in a similar role.

I find myself getting a little annoyed with more regular use of ‘shaky’ hand camera effects during action - I just want to see everything that’s going on damn it! That said it does work well in short bursts to increase the intensity during the action.

My annoyance is quickly dissolved and replaced by awe due to the impressive visuals and special effects. The vast war torn landscapes transformed even further by the surrounding industrial alien technology and their drone ships filling the skies.

It may not be a movie for everybody but Battle: LA is a good fun ‘popcorn’ movie and I enjoyed it for its merits and its faults.

Retreat hell - Ooh-rah!

Written and enjoyed by Senior Staff Sergeant Stefan Harkins

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