Battle: Los Angeles (Blu-ray)
Staff Sgt. Michael Nantz (Aaron Eckhart) is running on the beach as he is quickly passed by a group of lower ranked soldiers who all give respect with a “Good morning Staff Sergeant.” This is a fantastic opening in this writer’s humble opinion setting up a hero that while a leader is human with his own flaws and weakness. He shows strength but is unable to keep up with the new generation, as he is getting older. In BATTLE: LOS ANGELES the importance of that last description is the word “human,” as we are about to embark on a battle with aliens reminiscent of INDEPENDENCE DAY but concentrated on a platoon of soldiers similar to BLACK HAWK DOWN battling for Los Angeles.
The same day Staff Sgt. Nantz is relieved from duty a world crisis appears from meteors that are actually an alien invasion. Staff Sgt. Nantz is thrown into a crew where he is second in command to a younger inexperienced 2nd Lt. William Martinez and a crew of men who are hesitant of Staff Sgt. Nantz leadership due to a previous mission where he lost several men. They now are working their way through a newly destroyed Los Angeles fighting to stay alive, rescue civilians and defeat their mysterious enemy.
I wasn’t sure what to expect going into BATTLE: LOS ANGELES, the trailers looked like the possibility of mindless headache-inducing action similar to TRANSFORMERS 2 but I was surprised at the restraint in the film. This is a war film first and an alien movie second. The special effects are appropriately applied to move the story, while the score affectively provides tension and inspiration. With the battle happening through congested streets, homes, vehicles and highways, the entire production is quite impressive. But the focus stays with a select few men and women uniting together with their leave no one behind attitude.
The action is happening nearly the entire time but none of it is over the top. It’s believable with bravery and courage being the true lead. I might sound a little sappy and sentimental but I couldn’t help rooting out loud at times for our U.S. Marines amongst all the energy and excitement. It’s much easier to fight aliens or zombies because we can all agree to hate them but if a battle turns to another nation the war becomes frightfully real. At the end of the day we can feel good about villainizing and killing a make believe enemy.
The excitement is immediate and the characters are given just enough information so we can invest in them for the action and chaos to begin. The key is the heart and care brought into all the characters. Each one is touched upon so we might get to know and like them or at the very least realize who is left and who is gone. Aaron Eckhart is perfect as my our hero. With films like ERIN BROCKOVICH, THE DARK KNIGHT and the more recent dramatic RABBIT HOLE, I believe this guy can do just about anything. Even with all the great production value, BATTLE: LOS ANGELES would not be half as successful without him. Eckhart’s commanding yet every man way, creates a comfort and safety among the destruction for his soldiers and the viewing audience.
The ending comes together quickly and haphazardly at the same time solving the problem too neatly. But the journey is fun, creating pride and patriotism in an old fashioned let’s work together and kick butt against all odds sort of way. I love it when people support people. BATTLE: LOS ANGELES walks that line of cheesiness at times but overall tips the scale to an emotionally supportive good time.
Video: (1080p High Definition 2.40:1) Excellent quality through the entire picture.
Audio: (5.1 DTS-HD MA) This film is built for your top of the line sound system.
Command Control: A picture and picture feature you can watch during the film or on it’s own that give interviews, storyboards and making of information during many of the scenes.
Behind the Battle (6:44): Typical promo reel of scenes from the movie mixed with interviews from the actors.
Directing the Battle (6:33): Jonathan Liebesman got the directing job by passionately delivering an extremely well prepared presentation that apparently is now a staple for directors. This is everyone talking about it.
Aliens in L.A. (17:57): All the work behind creating the aliens from design, makeup and effects and their presence within the city.
Preparing for Battle (5:15): A brief overview of the actors doing most of the minimal stunts in order to keep the film based around them.
Boot Camp (10:18): The cast actually went through a week of boot camp together and this is some of the footage with interviews and I got to say it looked pretty tough.