- the cinematic musings of a self-certified geek


Battle: Los Angeles - Dir. Jonathan Liebesman, USA, 120mins

Black Swan

Copyright MainstreamMatt/Mainstream 2005-2011

No plot synopsis is needed for this; it has one of those self explanatory titles that say everything you need to know. Brace yourself, for it isn’t only sentient ships crashing into the Los Angeles landscape intent on the destruction of LaLaLand, but a litany of B-Movie clichés that make a much bigger impact during Jonathan Liebesman’s “District 9 Hours Long”; shaky handed war veterans, a young rookie yet to see battle who may as well have a target painted onto his forehead, a grunt who is about to get married, yet strangely never references her existence after the set-up, a staff sergeant with a shady “leave no man behind” policy, and that staple of flying saucer fights, a dog! It all reads like a potentially great Alien Invasion drinking game which would increase the viewing experience ten-fold.


Similar in style and structure to Ridley Scott’s concrete jungle, Somalia smackdown, Black Hawk Down, this also suffers from the same flaws; namely that there is a complete lack of focus or depth behind the cardboard cutout characters. Dropped straight into the action, we are not afforded the luxury of getting to know any of the protagonists that we’re asked to spend the remainder of the movie with, bar a Michael Bay style montage depicting the 24 hours prior to the invasion, and the result is that you couldn’t really care less about them.


The shonky script doesn’t help; the formula for which is – “God Dammit” BOOM! “Pull yourself together” BOOM! “Dammit” BOOM! And repeat for two tediously long hours. Interest could be gained from attempting to spot something, ANYTHING, original amongst the carnage; the aliens are a weird cross-breed between the prawns from District 9 and the Lost in Space robot, and the “humans save the day” finale (c’mon, that’s hardly a spoiler! Did I mention that this was riddled with cliché?) is lifted, nay copied from the superior in every way, Independence Day.


The dialogue also clunks louder that the vehicular battering taking place in glorious, but repetitive CGI. It’s as if every actor has a clause in their contract which stipulates that they must perform a rally cry accompanied by a crescendo building orchestra, none of which do anything to the hairs on the back of the neck.


Battle: LA is all brawn and no brain, despite a solid, if completely over-earnest performance from the bankable Aaron Eckhart. Rent District 9, re-visit ID4, or wait for the DVD release of the magnificent Gareth Edwards movie, Monsters, because they all did this same thing so much classier.