Is There Food?

by Daniel Woolstencroft

Battle: Los Angeles

“It’s just, well, kind of nice”.

Pretty sure I said that coming out of Battle LA.

Ian (who, along with my father, is my regular cinema-going compatriot) laughed hysterically at that. I wasn’t trying to be funny. I was referring to the sentiment. If, hypothetically speaking, you were to jump out of a helicopter, wouldn’t it be nice to live in a world where your mates jump out with you? Wouldnt it be nice to live in a world where the simple knowledge that a) you are awesome, b) your country is awesome, and c) you’re a God damn hero God damn it, is enough to instill the confidence to take down an alien horde?

That’s kind of what you get with Battle: Los Angeles. And…it’s kind of nice.

Don’t get me wrong, the film has an absolutely terrible script and isn’t going to win any awards. Characters frequently state the bleedin’ obvious (or explain obvious plot developments for the slow people in the audience). Each marine in the film’s squad fits neatly into a classic stereotype or cliché (he’s getting married, his wife’s pregnant, he’s a rookie virgin, he’s suffering from post traumatic stress, etc). And there are moments of absolute, golden, unintentional hilarity.

On top of that, the pacing is totally out of whack, with an amazing ability to kill any and all momentum after each set piece.

But it’s the set pieces, for me, that really make the film. They’re tense, loud, brilliantly put together, and full of frantic energy. The aliens, too, are pretty cool. There are some nice touches and attention to detail that were lacking from last year’s craptastic Skyline. While on the subject, Skyline lacked hilarity of any kind, intended or otherwise too.

Aaron Eckhart reads every terrible line of dialogue like he’s going for the Oscar. It’s almost like he doesn’t know he’s making Independence Day meets Modern Warfare 2, he’s going for it, he loves his country just as much as his character and by God, he’s going to make the best God Damn recruitment video he’s ever made. It’s like he thinks he’s making a Hurt Locker sequel or something. He’s all stoic,macho, and troubled. But he can hug a child when he needs to. Oh yes.

The rest of the marines are fairly anonymous. Even Michelle Rodriguez fails to bring much to her character, likeable as she is. Fans of True Blood will be happy to see Hoyt get a big screen role, but disappointed that he gets to do very, very little. There’s also a massively wasted opportunity for a facial joke at Rodriguez’s expense. So many jokes, I thought, so little time.

It’s the lack of definitive personality that’ll probably put most people off Battle: LA. That said, I can see a certain demographic eating this up like apple pie, and cheering and “boo-yah”ing in all the right places.

But I really enjoyed it, despite its problems. It’s got great action, cool aliens, stuff to laugh at, and - if you’ll allow yourself to be swept along with it - a brothers-in-arms, we shall overcome attitude that, for one night at least, I found reassuring rather than nauseating.

I’m sure I’ll be back to normal tomorrow.