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Battle: Los Angeles(2011)
A Marine Staff Sergeant who has just had his retirement approved goes back into the line of duty in order to assist a 2nd Lieutenant and his platoon as they fight to reclaim the city of Los Angeles from alien invaders.
For more about Battle: Los Angeles and the Battle: Los Angeles Blu-ray release, see the Battle: Los Angeles Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on May 24, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez, Bridget Moynahan, Ramon Rodriguez, Cory Hardrict, Ne-Yo
Director: Jonathan Liebesman
» See full cast & crew
Battle: Los Angeles Blu-ray Review
A flawed but highly entertaining film earns a rock-solid Blu-ray release from Sony.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, May 24, 2011
Work as a unit and we will prevail.
Battle: Los Angeles is going to take more incoming fire from highbrow critics than does the Marine detachment from alien invaders in the movie. Make no mistake, this is big, dumb, loud, and plotless Hollywood trifle, and every last second of it is a blast. Director Jonathan Liebesman (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning ) didn't set out to win a Best Picture Oscar with Battle: Los Angeles; he has instead crafted exactly what a movie of this "plot" should be: mindless entertainment. Most times, the big and ridiculous fare doesn't work, but this is the exception. Here's a movie that's content to be loud and exciting, delivering what is, in essence, a video game come to life. The film makes no false pretenses and it never becomes too corny, even when the rah-rah rally around the leader and save the day stuff rises to the forefront. Liebesman does a fine job of balancing big action with an impending sense of fear that manifests in the first half and is released in what is practically an incessant string of lengthy action scenes in the second half. It's a cathartic experience of sorts, escapist entertainment at its finest for sure, allowing audiences to both fear the unknown and experience impending doom from the safety of the theater.
Staff Sergeant Michael Nantz (Aaron Eckhart, The Dark Knight) is an aging Marine veteran who's served in Iraq and is now past his prime and on the tail end of his career. A few years older and a few steps slower, he can't keep up with the fresh-faced new recruits who are the future of the Corps, but who themselves may never have a prime because of what's to come. He's set to hang 'em up after a long career, but his plans are put on hold when he's called back to active duty. It seems that a series of objects have suddenly appeared near Earth and are not only approaching the planet, but slowing down as they do so. The astronomical mystery is solved when scientists discover mechanized spacecraft are splashing down off the coasts of cities around the world. Nantz is tasked with looking over the shoulder of a young, straight-from-Officer's-school Second Lieutenant William Martinez (Ramon Rodriguez) who's far too green to handle what's to come. Before the Marines are fully mobilized, the extraterrestrial invaders emerge from the Pacific and systematically wipe out the coastal Los Angeles area. Nantz and his platoon are charged with locating and rescuing a pocket of civilians stranded in an overrun police station before a bombing run takes out the entire coastline, but as Nantz and his men proceed towards their objective, the battle for Los Angeles takes a turn for the worst, leaving only this band of Marines to solve the mysteries of the alien technology, discover their plan of attack, and save the city.
Battle: Los Angeles pushes nonsense aside and begins by throwing the audience in the middle of the alien invasion. And then it pulls away for a flashback sequence and wastes its time developing characters who amount to little more than cannon fodder. Such a shame, really, because dropping the audience into the middle of the unknown from the get-go would have certainly served to more succinctly and with a greater sense of awe and ever-increasing hopelessness define the suddenness, insanity, danger, and uncertainty of the alien invasion. Structurally, it's a mistake, but this is a Hollywood film after all, so it's necessary to introduce characters and set up a few personal dynamics that will later play into the false sense of rah-rah rally around the leader and save the day stuff that, sure, has its place and gives the movie a little bit of a soul, but any sort of character dynamics are wasted because the film is otherwise very well crafted as a no-holds-barred sort of in-the-raw and in-the-moment War movie (more on that in a moment). Such worked better in Independence Day; Battle: Los Angeles is made more in the shape of Black Hawk Down. In that film, character development mattered because it was based on the experiences of real people. The fictional universe of Battle: Los Angeles, however, should be all about the action. Besides, these Marines aren't really in the same class as the exceptionally-drawn characters of Aliens, all of whom had unique personalities and roles to play in the movie. Battle: Los Angeles is really just a smorgasbord of action carried out by mostly faceless and nameless automatons, and anything that detracts from that is only a hindrance to the end product.
Add all that to the fact that the very premise of Battle: Los Angeles is flawed. No, there's no problem with the basics of the alien invasion angle; what's at fault is the contradiction that is crafting what purports to be a true-to-life War picture dumbed down to a PG-13 rating. That's simply unforgivable. Where there should be a hard-R picture there's a soft PG-13. Where the film attempts to create a reality-driven experience -- and it succeeds on most levels -- is a watered down, family-safe vision of a war-ravaged Los Angeles where everything is mangled but the corpses. It's not that people should want to see bodies that have been blown to pieces, but it's a cheat that every corpse in the film lies perfectly straight face-down on the pavement with nary a drop of blood to be seen. It's simply unrealistic that a car could be charred and shredded to the point of being nearly unrecognizable, yet a body a foot away looks like it just came out of the fitting room at the bombed-out boutique across the street, but back when it was just a boutique and not a shell of a building in the middle of a warzone. Certainly, Battle: Los Angeles would have fared better were it less concerned with a box office-friendly rating and more concerned with going the distance and adhering to the reality for which is otherwise so gallantly strives.
All that said, it would seem that Battle: Los Angeles is an epic dud of a picture. It's not. The movie is highly engrossing and entertaining aside from some blatant missteps that are admittedly more faults along the lines of what appear to be studio-mandated "balance the movie to make money" nonsense rather than gross oversights on the part of the crew. The way the film instantly whisks its audience away and places them squarely on what effectively becomes the first level of hell is outstanding. The picture is utterly convincing -- save for a few stray poorly-implemented effects shots, a surprise in a movie of this scope and budget -- in the way it showcases a world rapidly spiraling out of control. The film becomes more bleak with every passing moment, every shot fired, every explosion heard. It seem more hopeless with every fuzzy background news report, every new enemy encountered, and with each layer of grime and sweat and blood accumulating on battle-weary soldiers's faces. The action is ever-intense and very well-staged, giving the picture a strong real-life flair. It's easy to feel a part of the Marine detachment, and chances are most viewers will be itching to pick up a rifle and give the invaders a good old lead whoopin'. Of course, Battle: Los Angeles never really gets to any particulars about the alien visitors aside from a few throwaway news clips heard from the mouths of "experts" on a fuzzy CNN broadcast, but that's not a problem, going back to what should have been a strength of the movie and jumping straight into the fray with no warning and no knowledge about who is who, what is what, and working only on the information accumulated through the course of the movie. In fact, that there is little in the way of a real identifiable plot other than "go get 'em" isn't a hindrance in this sort of movie, either, because the entire point is to paint a picture of confusion and violence, which Liebesman has done very, very well, even if it's decidedly lacking in realistic carnage and the courage necessary to separate itself from the pack.
Battle: Los Angeles Blu-ray, Video Quality
Battle: Los Angeles features a very simple but highly efective and naturally filmic 1080p Blu-ray transfer. The film is decidedly lacking in bold primaries; urban grays dominate, and color is further reduced thanks to the many smoky exteriors, darkened interiors, and nighttime sequences. Splashes of red appear on CNN graphics, bright orange accentuates fireballs, and blue skies hang over early parts of the movie, but Battle: Los Angeles is otherwise muted by design. On the other hand, detail is excellent; whether facial definitions or the finest little textures on inconsequential objects such as helmet chin straps, Sony's Blu-ray is overflowing with pristine detailing, accentuated both by a fine layer of grain and incredible clarity. The image is razor-sharp from top to bottom, side-to-side, and front-to-back. Black levels are strong, impervious to crush while remaining inky-deep throughout. Only a very slight blink-and-its-gone amount of banding is present; otherwise, the image is free of digital anomalies, post-process tinkering, and any trace of dirt and debris. This is a somewhat bland image by design, but Sony's Blu-ray picks up every little nuance with purpose and precision from start to finish.
Battle: Los Angeles Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Battle: Los Angeles features a dynamic multichannel lossless sound presentation that practically transports listeners into an urban warzone. The movie begins with a loud and tight push at the low end; this one means business for sure, and things only get better as the movie progresses. The opening is followed by a string of various news reports of the pending attack stretching out across the front of the soundstage to a point that the sounds effectively eliminate the speakers and create a seemingly seamless and limitless sound field. Dialogue, both in calmer scenes and in the heat of battle alike, is perfectly centered in the middle front speaker and is of the utmost in clarity and precision. Minor ambience spills into the back channels during quieter moments, and music is crystal-clear, whether instrumental score or the beats of 2Pac's California Love. Of course, none of that is the featured attraction. Battle: Los Angeles thrives on the sounds of combat. Weapons fire is potent and clarity is excellent, to the point that astute listeners can by the end of the film identify the different sonic signatures of SAWs, M4s, and alien weapons by sound alone. Shots zip through the soundstage, often following the lines of tracer fire across the screen. There's no shortage of energy, and the low end kicks in with regularity in the process of creating intense explosions that rock the listening area but do so cleanly and accurately; never does the track fall apart into a jumbled mess of indistinct sound effects. Even better, the background is constantly filled with distant weapons fire and explosions, which truly creates a sense of panic and chaos even when the fighting is miles away. Battle: Los Angeles is of reference quality from the top down; did anyone expect less?
Battle: Los Angeles Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Battle: Los Angeles's Blu-ray release cannot be labeled as a "definitive" edition, but Sony has provided a nice roster of extra content constructed primarily of featurettes and a quality picture-in-picture BonusView (profile 1.1) compilation feature. Please note that the highly anticipated playable demo of Sony's upcoming Resistance 3 PlayStation 3 video game release does not appear to be included; apparently and most disappointingly, it seems to only be available as part of the standalone release that does not come with the DVD copy of the film.
Battle: Los Angeles Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Battle: Los Angeles has "divisive" written all over it. On one hand will be movie fans who can look past the flaws and enjoy the ride, and on the other will be those who see in it just another cliché-riddled plotless clunker that relies on explosions and yelling and gunfire to mask the absence of a plot. Then there will be a few who will wish that the movie had gone further and portrayed a grisly, no-nonsense picture of an alien invasion, not a watered down final take. The truth is that Battle: Los Angeles falls somewhere in the middle of all three. Most important, though, it's entertaining, even if it's flawed from every angle, and it tries hard -- and succeeds a good deal of the time -- to find a balance between gritty War movie and semi-safe PG-13 entertainment. More forgiving general audiences should like it enough, and Action junkies and War movie enthusiasts should enjoy it a great deal. Battle: Los Angeles could have been better, but then again, so could the vast majority of movies out there. This one is at least content to do its thing and do it (usually) very well without trying to be something it's not and doesn't need to be. As expected, Battle: Los Angeles looks and sounds fantastic on Blu-ray. The quality assortment of extras round this into another tip-top Blu-ray from Sony. Recommended.
Battle: Los Angeles: Other Editions
Battle: Los Angeles Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Blu-ray Sales, June 13-19: Victory for Los Angeles - June 22, 2011
In the closest finish ever for the No.1 spot on the Blu-ray sales chart, Battle: Los Angeles finished the week on top. Sony's sci-fi actioner might not have delivered box office success, but it did manage to score strong sales for Blu-ray as it dethroned last week's ...
• This Week on Blu-ray - June 14-20 - June 14, 2011
Hollywood once again has aliens on the brain, and with today's Blu-ray release of Battle: Los Angeles, we once again get to watch the human race defend itself against a conquering alien race. The lack of originality should be obvious based on the title, training, ...
• Battle Los Angeles Blu-ray to Ship With PS3 Game Demo On Disc - May 19, 2011
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment have announced that Battle: Los Angeles will ship with a demo of the upcoming PlayStation 3 exclusive game Resistance 3. Resistence 3 Insomniac's next entry in the popular Resistance franchise that launched in November 2006 ...
» Show more related news posts for Battle: Los Angeles Blu-ray
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