Battle: Los Angeles is brought to you by the US Marine Corp Board of Recruitment. Hoo-rah!
At least, it’s hard not to think so having watched the film. Battle: Los Angeles is about an alien invasion. Basically, these bizarre meteor showers suddenly appear in Earth’s atmosphere and within hours they’re crash landing in the ocean near major cities all around the world. Except they’re not really crash landing. They’re slowing down before impact, they’re of uniform size, their appearance is synchronised – obviously, it’s an alien invasion.
The military is mobilised.
We see the story from the point of view of one squad of crack Marines, led by one grizzly Staff Sergeant, two days out from retirement, and a fresh faced Lieutenant, green straight from the academy. As you can see, the whole film is cliché-powered. The Cliché Squad consists of one dude about to get married in three weeks, a guy barely recovered from shellshock, desperate to be cleared for combat duty again, a bitter young chap who’s brother died in a mission with the same Grizzled Staff Sergeant who now leads him and so on. Help me, I’m choking on clichés! So anyway, our erstwhile mob is sent into the war zone to rescue five civilians trapped in a police station several clicks inside the battle lines. They have three hours before the Air Force drop bombs to raze the place to rubble.
Wait a minute, what’s that screeching noise? Oh, it’s the last vestige of credibility, spinning off Disbelief Suspension Highway in a cloud of tyre smoke and broken logic. And we’re barely ten minutes into the film.
Let me get this straight – aliens have starting smashing major cities all over the world simultaneously. The military has a chance to bomb the intergalactic shit out of them before they can get too far inland as they seem to be ground based only and have no air support (which we’ll come to in a minute), yet they’re going to wait three hours before said shock and awe campaign? Bollocks are they. Aliens, destroying the world = coastal population: collateral damage. The only reason they would wait three hours to start bombing is to give a fairly ridiculous squad of marines a chance to have a film made about them while they move in to rescue five civilians. FIVE! There are already thousands, if not tens or hundreds of thousands, dead. Dudes, bomb those fucking aliens back to Alpha Centauri! Quick!
So yeah, it’s pretty stupid. Actually, it’s really stupid.
They fly Cliché Squad into the war zone – i.e. the area that the aliens have already advanced into from the coast. That’s right, they fly them in by chopper. Yet they land them a couple of Ks out from the police station where the civies are. That’s because we then get to see the marines do their street by street thing, all cool and efficient. But, of course, that goes wrong. Yet they prevail briefly. When the marines find the civilians, they call in a chopper to get them out. WHAT!? Why didn’t they just fly all the way in then? Of course, at this point the alien’s air support is mobilised and the chopper is taken out and the marines have to escape again on foot.
Well, of course the aliens have aircraft. THEY CAME FROM OUTER SPACE! Did the US military really think they flew here from another planet, but only had ground troops on board? That’s just mental.
So Cliché Squad starts trying to get out again, Young Lieutenant loses it, Grizzly Staff Sergeant pulls him back together, Young Lieutenant does the honourable thing and gives his life to save the squad, Grizzly Staff Sergeant has to lead them, but he’s the one that got all his men killed before! “Don’t you think I think about those young men every day?” Oh, he’s actually pretty cool and he’ll lead us well. Hoo-rah, let’s fight those alien scum! Wait, all these flying things are unmanned drones, that means they have a mother of a command and control centre (because that’s how we humans would do it). If we can only take that C & C centre out, we could have a chance in this godforsaken war! Wait, what’s that? A large area with the power out? That must be where the C & C is, sucking up all the power. (Wait a minute, this entire city is being destroyed by an alien invasion force, wouldn’t pretty much everywhere have the power out by now? Quiet, you – you’re spoiling the tenuous plot. Well, I say plot…) Look at us go, Cliché Squad to the rescue! Hoo-rah! Yay, we’ve taken out the C & C, now we’re showing those alien scumbags who they’re messing with! Look at all the drones falling out of the sky. The aliens are retreating, we’re so super cool! But the war’s not over yet. No, we don’t need a rest Captain, we just need to refill our ammo and get back out there. HOO-RAH!
And that’s only a fraction of the stupidity. I haven’t even mentioned the bit where they capture an alien and repeatedly stab it everywhere looking for “the vital organ” so they know where to shoot. Or the fact that an entire alien invasion seems to consist of disparate groups of half a dozen or so alien infantry scattered here and there throughout LA. Or the seemingly indestructible Marine laser targeting device. Or the clearly structured nature of events identical to the increasing difficulty levels of a computer game. And… and… I can’t go on. The shooting barely stops, yet the plot holes still outnumber the bullet holes.
To make matters worse, the whole thing is shot in the worst handicam style. It makes the Blair Witch camera work seems Oscar-worthy. It’s as if the whole thing is being filmed by an embedded journalist that’s lost his camera so he’s running around trying to capture it all on his phone. I know it’s a device to make us feel like we’re in the action, but it even happens right at the start with two dudes having a conversation in an office. It’s like the cameraman is on one of those 60s weight loss machines where you stand on a platform with a bigger rubber belt around your arse and it vibrates the flab away.
And worst of all, this film once again employs that most annoying of alien invasion conceits – the aliens underestimate the tenacity of the human race; they have no idea who they’re messing with. You know, this is an alien race that’s spanned the galaxy. They’ve got here and they’re taking over the planet. It’s quite possible that they’re some pretty fucking tenacious creatures themselves. I bet they’ve got squads of warriors every bit as tough, determined and brave as the humans. We like to think we’re awesome, but an invading alien army would probably be pretty awesome too. And far better equipped. They came here through space, after all.
Really, this film is utter shite. It has no redeeming features. It would be an impressive visual display of effects if the cameraman wasn’t having an epileptic fit throughout the movie. It’s just action and mayhem and American hoo-rahism, wrapped up in a complete lack of plot and a thoroughly implausible premise. For two hours when you can switch your brain to neutral and see if you can avoid your own epileptic fit while watching, give it a go. Otherwise do something more constructive with your time, like sit in the garden and eat grass.