A few weeks ago I rented a film called “Skyline,” even though it was panned by critics. My brother said it was entertaining up to a point and I have to agree with him. It also was a film about aliens attacking the Earth and was set in an apartment building and that is where it stayed. The actors in that film almost seemed to know that this was mindless entertainment and they didn’t try to make too much out of it. On that same level comes “Battle: Los Angeles” with it’s awesome looking trailer, a star actor in Aaron Eckhart and what looks like enough firepower to fight the big, bad monsters from outer space. But along the way, something goes horribly wrong with this film and I have to say it was a HUGE disappointment for me.
Here’s the problem…it wants to be too much. Where “Skyline” knew it wasn’t gonna win any Oscars, this film pulls from too many sources and works too hard for me to take it seriously. Watching this movie, I could tell that it was trying to be “Saving Private Ryan/Independence Day/Cloverfield/The Hurt Locker/every other war film made in the last 10 years” and it fails miserably. And with some of the most ridiculous dialogue ever, it makes even “Skyline” look like an instant classic.
It starts off with a bang though. You meet Sgt. Michael Nantz (Eckhart), a soon-to-be-retired Marine, who has some baggage and is ready to put the military behind him. We also meet several of the others who will be joining him in the field (which includes Michelle Rodriguez & Ne-Yo), none of which are memorable in any way. From there, it’s straight into the action as the group head into Santa Monica to try to retrieve some civilians who are holed up in a police department building. Of course there are last second heroics, lots of ammo, many harrowing (but not really) situations and people get blown up. Well…except for Nantz, who is the only glue that this movie has. Beyond him, there’s nothing to care about. Unlike “Saving Private Ryan” (which this film mostly steals from), none of the soldiers have anything interesting to say. All the dialogue is trite and bombastic. There’s a lot of chest-thumping and a lot of “I don’t wanna die!” and beyond that…nothing. And from there the movie stalls about half way through.
I kept waiting for something really cool to happen…but the aliens were lame (they have big heads and can’t shoot straight AT ALL), the action was kind of boring (they tried to jazz it up with lots of shaky cam and hectic editing but THAT didn’t work) and the running time is about 30 minutes too long. Throughout this movie all I could think was…this looks like a military training film. And essentially,that’s what it is except the plot is even more boring than that!
As you can imagine, I am deeply disappointed in this movie. I really love this kind of concept and the fact that this is such a mess is too bad. It’s been done so well in some other cases and for this travesty to take place kind of says something. I was wondering why this movie was being released in March and now I guess I know why. It would have gotten pummeled in the summer deluge of action movies and rightfully so. This is not good movie-making at all. It’s only slightly entertaining in the beginning but as it rolls on, it becomes a complete bore.
Overall Rating: D+ (and that’s mostly for the effects)