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Battle: Los Angeles

Probably the biggest appeal of Military/Action type videogames these days is their all inclusive game play and stunning life like graphics.  Most of the time, these violent games feature lots of mini-missions, arsenal after arsenal of guns and ammo and tons of carnage. 

Unfortunately, in all of this chaos there’s little room for any heart and soul, let alone a strong narrative foundation.  But who needs it when you get to blast bad guys and save the day? 

Battle: Los Angeles, the latest aliens invade the planet action flick, plays like a live action Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, but with better actors and more cliches.

But before director Johnathan Liebesman can drop the audience in the middle of this mindless first person shooter, he attempts to instill a little back story to the Leathernecks about to hit the meat grinder, shaky camera and all. 

Aaron Eckhart is Staff Sergeant Nantz, the grizzled war vet who's seen his share of action and just wants a simple life out of the corps.  The rest of the corps of Marines are pretty much what you'd expect from any typical war movie: the macho latino who can hotwire cars, the green, virgin private who's got his genitals to fight for, the new inexperienced lieutenant with a pregnant wife at home, the section 8 Marine who just wants to be cleared to fight and of course the soldier who's brother died under the command of Nantz and holds a grudge.

While all the introductions are taking place, in the background the only thing the news stations can talk about are the clusters of meteors that are set to touch down on earth later that day.  We soon find out that these are not really meteors because their trajectories slow down before impact.  Upon further review and intel, and of course CNN, we find out that these ain't no meteors... this is an invasion!

The movie follows Sgt. Nantz and The Foxtrot battalion as they get their mission to hit the streets, rescue some hostages and get out of dodge before the big payload of bombs eradicates Santa Monica. Along the way, a mission gets botched, some Marines die, we find out what the aliens are all about and there is lots and lots of action.

I really hate to say this, but we've seen this all before and it was done so much better in Will Smith's Independence Day.

But Battle: Los Angeles isn't a terrible movie.  It's just all muscle and no heart.  We're briefly introduced to all these Marines, but there's just no connection to them all.  None of them are real, and the audience is savvy enough to know that they're all just cannon fodder. The Aliens themselves aren't very threatening and our only knowledge of them comes from Nantz's discovery of them after killing a couple.

Even when the movie tries to up the stakes by adding the element of the hostages to the group dynamic the plight of a few people pales in comparison to the complete city destruction of Los Angeles which in itself isn't even that impressive.

The thing that does stand out in all of this is Eckhart.  He carries this movie and definitely establishes himself as a leading man and a competent action hero.  He also has the acting chops to believably deliver the terrible dialogue that's waiting in this screenplay.

The CGI is also impressive and has a District 9 feel to it all. 

My biggest complaint with the film had to be the use of the shaky camera throughout the entire thing.  It's understandable to use during intense fire fight scenes but during the calm, office chat between Nantz and his commander?

Battle: Los Angeles is fun enough, but it's more killer and less filler.  I can't wait for the videogame.

Lon Lopez

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