2011 Running time: 119 Certificate: 12 Rating: 3

Synopsis

ALIEN-COMING! Bedlam ensues when Earth comes under attack from biomechanical killing machines from another planet. As the world's major cities succumb one by one to the invading hordes, a battle-hardened Marine (Aaron Eckhart) mobilises his new platoon to save the innocent and ensure that Los Angeles does not fall without a fight. Gear up for gung-ho action and don't forget your earplugs as the City of Angels is reduced to a deafening, alien hell.

Director

  • Jonathan Liebesman

Cast

  • Aaron Eckhart

  • Michelle Rodriguez

  • Bridget Moynahan

  • Michael Pena

Review

Pick a war saga: Black Hawk Down, Platoon, Saving Private Ryan, The Green Berets, The Hurt Locker, Green Zone, Generation Kill.

Now choose one of the following: War Of The Worlds, AliensIndependence Day, Cloverfield, District 9, Starship Troopers, Transformers, Terminator Salvation.

Put the word “meets” between them. Congratulations, you've created the perfect poster quote for Battle: Los Angeles.

To fully prepare yourself, however, first tighten your flak jacket for some of the most side-splittingly unintentional and ironic laughs since Tony Blair was made a peace envoy.

Alternatively, spend a couple of hours playing Halo or Call Of Duty at top volume... in stars-and-stripes underpants.

It's August 2011, and (though we evidently missed it) a barrage of unidentified objects are about to hit Earth. But as California's armed forces are soon told, this is no meteor shower. No, this is “Threat-con Delta”, by jingo, a state of alert reached only when aggressors from outer space decide to invade.

Like many of us, Marine staff sergeant Nantz (Eckhart) is getting too old for these shenanigans. But someone has to take on the alien marauders while the boffins sit around offering dopey explanations for their motives.

(Apparently they're after our water, which exists in liquid form only on Earth. In which case, how did they evolve in the first place? Still, as Nantz so hilariously concludes one of his later ramblings: “that doesn't matter right now...”

So with no time for characterisation, director Jonathan Liebesman and writer Chris Bertolini hastily scramble the Umpteenth Hollywood Cliché Regiment: the expectant father, the joker, the noble African, the gullible rookie, the soon-to-be-wed, the post-traumatically stressed one, and the one with the grudge against his superior officer.

Fuelled by patriotic zeal, Nantzy's boys - and girl (Michelle Rodriguez, fresh from her tour of duty in Avatar) – head out to rescue any remaining civilians before the military bomb the place from Tinseltown to Timbuktu.

Just as well they did too, because they have no idea how to kill the half-organism, half-metal monsters that stand in their way... until rescuee Bridget Moynahan pipes up: “Maybe I can help? I'm a veterinarian.”

It turns out daft dialogue is not the only weak spot as Nantz and his ever-dwindling platoon plough on towards the mother ship through one hectically edited firefight to the next.

Allied to robust special effects and impressively devastated cityscapes – partly conceived by the Strause brothers who allegedly cribbed a few ideas when they jumped ship to make their own invasion epic Skyline – Battle: LA is perfect cinema for gamers.

But with no subplots to break it up, the endless barrage of flying rubble, crashing hardware and bellowing jingoism soon becomes repetitive.

Like the aliens themselves, it's an imposing frame built on a wishy-washy core.

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