Battle: Los Angeles tries desperately to be Independence Day meets The Hurt Locker, but sadly it has neither the brains nor the characterisation of either of those two superior pictures.
Directed by South African filmmaker Jonathan Liebesman (to whom we have to thank for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning), the film is a derivative and uninteresting mish-mash of shooting, big bangs and lots of shouting. The plot, or what there is of one, isn’t exactly original. Aliens invade Earth; we follow soldiers defending the coast of Los Angeles; things blow up.
The CGI is far from impressive. It reminded me of those irritatingly long trailers for video games you have to sit through at the cinema whenever you buy a ticket for a film aimed at young men. The cinematography is the best thing about the film. Lukas Ettlin, who worked as cinematographer on some of Liebesman’s other films, manages to harness the complexities of cinema vérité without giving the audience a migraine. The real headache-inducing material comes from the sound mixing, which is turned up to maximum for nearly all the running time and makes the clichéd lines the cast scream at each other all the more irritating.
The script, by Chris Bertolini, is one of the worst I’ve had to listen to in a long while. The characters aren’t characters, they’re props simply there to run around and be shot at. Occasionally they pull faces to show they are distressed, on a tough mission or assessing a difficult situation. As with most of the film, we’ve seen it all before, and done so much better.
Aaron Eckhart, who is the closest thing the movie has to a leading man, leaves his years of acting experience at the door, and opts to slice up the scenery with his jawline — his chin has more personality than the rest of the cast put together.
In all honesty, the film looks stunning on Blu-ray, but that isn’t enough. The Hurt Locker looks great on Blu-ray. District 9 looks great on Blu-ray. If you want a great action film, watch those two instead.
Battle: Los Angeles (2011), directed by Jonathan Liebesman, is available on DVD and Blu-ray from Sony Pictures, certificate 12.