Battle: Los Angeles invades theaters

By Wren Culp

Staff Writer/Webmaster

Aaron Eckhart stars in Columbia Pictures' "Battle: Los Angeles." (Richard Cartwright/Courtesy Columbia Pictures/MCT)

In a typical alien invasion movie, funky looking, intelligent creatures with cool weapons invade Earth for no discernible reason and start killing humans without warning. However, this is not the case for Battle: Los Angeles, as the aliens in the film have one goal in mind: colonization.

Battle: Los Angeles follows the story of Sgt. Michael Nantz (Aaron Eckhart), a near-retired Marine who is ready to get out of the Army. He is haunted by his last tour in Iraq, where he caused his squad to be killed and effects his decisions throughout the invasion.

As strange clusters of meteors begin to hit the ground, scientists quickly discover they do not hit the ground at terminal velocity: they are slowing down before they hit the ocean. The world quickly becomes overrun by a species that intends to use Earth’s resources, specifically water. Their goal is to wipe out the native population before colonizing the planet.

With Los Angeles becoming the last line of defense on the west coast, Sgt. Nantz and his platoon draw a line in the sand and face an enemy unlike anything they have ever encountered before.

I have never been a huge fan of alien invasion movies except for Independence Day, War of the Worlds and even Signs, but something about Battle: Los Angeles intrigued me. When I saw the trailer, I knew the movie was going to be awesome, and I was not disappointed.

The events of the film were inspired by “The Great Los Angeles Air Raid”, which was a suspected invasion from the Japanese army in World War II. The filmmakers wanted to use this as a basis for establishing the film in reality.

As you would expect from a military movie, the actors went through boot camp beforehand to learn how to operate as a platoon realistically. The actors worked together in boot camp to make sure everything was accurate – military advisors were even brought in to ensure authentic performances.

As for the acting itself, Eckhart does a fantastic job as a squad leader and I felt he was the perfect fit for the role. He did a great job conveying his emotions, as the film overall had some very personal moments.

Along with the strong emotions from the individual characters, as a whole, the emotional states of the soldiers were played well by the actors. There was a great chemistry between the stars and it brought the movie to a whole new level. In one scene, first timer Lt. William Martinez (Ramon Rodriguez) gets upset after losing two of his men to the aliens. He talks about how he is not a good platoon leader and wishes he had been killed instead of his men.

The cinematography was fantastic as most of it was shaky, which made the action scenes much more intense. Personally, I love when films use the “shaky cam” in a way that enhances the film and it certainly does in this one. The camera work made me feel like I was there, running from cover to cover with the soldiers.

The CGI in the film was absolutely superb. All of the aliens and their ships had so much detail put into them and it made the film a lot more believable. Since the film was shot at locations in Louisiana due to the financial advantages, the film crews had to use a large “green-screen” billboard at the base of the scenes involving downtown to use later for inserting CGI images of Los Angeles.

Director Jonathan Liebesman (Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning) drew his inspiration from movies such as Black Hawk Down and United 93 to make the movie. Liebesman specifically did not want to shoot in 3-D (thank you Jonathan Liebesman) because he felt that, combined with the shaky cam, audiences would throw up. Overall, he did a fantastic job directing as I was sucked into the story, emotionally attached to the characters and enjoyed the direction he took the film in.

Overall, Battle: Los Angeles was everything I wanted it to be. A fun, emotional, action-packed ride that made me want to shoot aliens for myself afterwards. This movie is definitely worth checking out.