Battle: Los Angeles movie posterJudging by the trailer, BATTLE: LOS ANGELES looked to be just another Independence Day, but surprisingly its not.   While BATTLE: LOS ANGELES has its share of spectacle, the film spares us the pompous American patriotism and focuses on humanizing the characters and conflict.

Given the post 9/11 climate, films like Independence Day would probably not go over well today and the filmmakers behind BATTLE: LOS ANGELES probably had that in mind. In BATTLE: LOS ANGELES, alien forces invade the coast of every major country and a group of Marines (Aaron Eckhart, Ramon Rodriguez, Michelle Rodriguez) in Los Angeles are sent on a mission to evacuate civilians from an unknown enemy attacking Santa Monica.  
In most Hollywood action films, military characters are often portrayed as fearless and ready to fight alien enemies as Will Smith did with his “I’m gonna get you sucka’ attitude in Independence Day or Josh Duhamel in the Transformers movie.  In reality, if aliens did invade Earth, would soldiers maintain that attitude when confronted with an enemy they have not trained to battle?  BATTLE: LOS ANGELES addresses that reality.  At the start of the film, the soldiers go in with the typical conquering attitude, only to realize they will most likely not come out alive. Watching military character’s vulnerability within the story is not something viewers are used to seeing in a special effects-heavy action movie. It was rather refreshing to watch these characters exhibit true emotion.  You’re getting the eye candy, in addition, to giving the film heart.
While you can respect director Jonathan Liebesman for giving the film an emotional side to this popcorn spectacle, one scene drags on with Aaron Eckhart as Staff Sargeant Nantz cheering up a child, followed by a long monologue about losing his men on a previous mission.  The moment did generate some tears from this viewer but you could feel many in the audience couldn’t wait for the next action sequence.  
The film’s action sequences were shot documentary style with shaky cameras to give you the feeling you are on the battle field with them which enhanced the intensity of the scenes. At times it felt as if you were watching a war movie... but with aliens.  The Marines revert to their training and back each other up instead of going commando.  All the characters share heroic moments in BATTLE: LOS ANGELES.   Who knew you could actually gain more respect for our current troops fighting overseas while your watching this fictional action film.

The strong story helped bring out the best from the BATTLE: LOS ANGELES actors.  As usual, Aaron Eckhart is at his best as Staff Sargeant Nantz, a career Marine forced back into service for one last assignment under the command of a much younger  Second Lieutenant,William Martinez (Ramon Rodriguez).  Eckhart certainly grounded the film and helped the supporting characters shine.  

Newcomer Ramon Rodriguez, who charmed in Transformers 2, transforms into an entirely different character as the leader of the Marine battalion in BATTLE: LOS ANGELES.  Expect to hear more about this versatile star with his new role as Bosley in the TV revamp of Charlie’s Angels.  It’s no surprise Michelle Rodriguez again takes on the role of a soldier but the kick ass attitude is not part of her character this time.  Her usual toughness is gone and she finally shows some real vulnerability in her acting that we are not used to seeing from her.   Bridget Moynahan and Michael Peña also bring authenticity to the film as civilians trapped in the area.

BATTLE: LOS ANGELES was a nice surprise with likeable and humanized characters.  The special effects and aliens were low-key with the focus on the human characters but it still proved entertaining.  Think Black Hawk Down meets District 9.

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