Battle: Los Angeles Review
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You’ve seen war movies before. You’ve seen alien invasion movies, too. But you’ve probably never seen the two combined quite like they are in the massive alien war movie, Battle: Los Angeles.

Aaron Eckhart stars as Staff Sergeant Michael Nantz, a worn-out Marine who’s done his time and is ready to put past nightmares behind him. Before he can retire, though, the military gets word that a number of large objects are about to hit Earth off the coast of Los Angeles, near Camp Pendleton. The public believes that they’re meteors—but the military knows otherwise. The objects have come from space—and, as soon as they land, an army of alien beings comes out fighting.

Nantz is called in to help a platoon of soldiers who are sent to evacuate civilians from a nearby police station before the area is bombed. But with just three hours to go—and an unknown enemy waiting for them—they’re facing a battle that’s deadlier than anything even their veteran Staff Sergeant has experienced before.

Though it gets somewhat bogged down in the beginning by character introductions (with so many characters, you won’t remember most of them anyway), Battle: Los Angeles opens with plenty of promise of the otherworldly war to come. As the war builds and the troops prepare to head into combat against an alien enemy, the story is both suspenseful and emotional. But once the action begins, there’s little time left for drama—or much of a story at all, for that matter.

If you have a weak stomach like I do, you’ll end up watching much of the shaky, disorienting, and dangerously stomach-turning fight sequences through squinting eyes—all the while begging that ill-advised order of loaded nachos to keep heading on its journey south. But, if you’re determined enough, you’ll still manage to catch some cool action and effects—the massive explosions, the man-to-alien combat, the fascinating alien artillery.

Unfortunately, though, it just tries to do too much. Director Jonathan Liebesman (whose credits include 2006’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning) wanted to give the film drama, so he spends time developing a bunch of the characters. He wanted to give it tons of mind-blowing action, so he goes into one massive action sequence after another. But the balance just isn’t there. There are so many characters that it’s hard to care about many of them, and there’s so much action—with limited story to keep it interesting—that, after a while, it just feels like more of the same.

Battle: Los Angeles is definitely an unusual movie—a clever mix of science fiction and the classic war movie. Had the script had a little more balance, it would have been a must-see adventure—but this fascinating genre mash-up is still worth a look. Just be sure to take some Dramamine before you head to the theater.

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