Posted on 3/14/11 04:25 PM
Despite dismal reviews, Battle: Los Angeles manages to hold up fairly well in traditional categories. To be sure, taking down an alien invasion has not offered much room for originality in a screenplay, at least since 1953's War of the Worlds. Battle:LA, however, is doomed by a particularly lacking spark of creativity. Witness, in contrast, the creativity of 2009's District 9, that truly flips the genre on its head. There is a limited attempt to change the angle a bit (it is not viewed through civilian eyes, but through a down-to-earth military lens), but none of the key elements of traditional alien invasions are forgotten. Hence we are treated to super-advanced alien technology, overwhelming numbers, destruction, dehumanization of people, horrible effects of weapons, inspirational human figures, and unexpected weaknesses in their technology that only our hero can figure out. Sadly, these elements are not even arranged in any refreshing way. Ultimately, it is simply a story we know too well and that predictably falls neatly into place.
The acting when it comes to Aaron Eckhart, is solid. Eckhart keeps piling on top-notch performances, even with a script that is wanting. In contrast, in a secondary role, Michelle Rodriguez keeps piling on mediocre "tough-girl" performances that are, to say the least, tired, and to say more, annoying. So while the acting is fine, it is also very modest.
The special effects (as well as the sound editing) are sufficiently powerful to merit a big screen release, but not sufficiently special to merit spending the small fortune ticket prices go for these days.
In fact, the flare of aliens and technology comes off as uninspired. These beings are not even frightening, particularly as they run and hide from marines. By and large, I was pleased the aliens employed "conventional" weapons (I suppose credit for originality is in order here, no shields or lasers), but they are invading a planet with one of the most absurdly pathetic strategic failures since aliens died from drinking bacteria in water (or from contact with water in the first place... Shyamalan...).
Much of the movie is laudable, from a focus on a wide variety of characters (though all the initial cast is male), to Eckhart himself, to a rather rare military-friendly approach that is refreshing these days. But its positive and mediocre aspects simply do not combine to a fresh entry.