The awkwardly named Battle: Los Angeles is a lot like Roland Emmerich's Independence Day, but without all of the fun. Gone are the over-the-top characters, they've been replaced with cookie cutter Marines. And the Marine characters aren't the only tired cliché the film employs; plenty of alien invasion tropes pop up as well.
In the film, aliens have invaded Earth. They're no doubt encountering resistance the world over but we tag along with a Marine unit in Los Angeles, California as they prepare for the possibility that they're the planet's - and the human race's - last hope. The film centers around Aaron Eckhart's Staff Sergeant Michael Nantz, a man who recently lost some troops under his command. This makes him tragic, I supposed. Instead of attempting to develop the character, they simply dump this mess in our laps. You could argue that this is character development, but even if it is, it's lazy as hell.
This leads to friction between him and the new squad under his command, which only makes sense. You can't just start the story off with everyone liking each other. Friendship isn't compelling! No, everyone needs to be at odds with one another until finally they can bond over something trivial - anything, really, it doesn't matter. And then and only then will they use their newfound camaraderie to unite and overcome the enemy.
Battle: Los Angeles probably would have been a better movie if they didn't even bother with characters. Just throw them out. While I happen to be a big fan of characterization and I love bonding with my heroes, if you're so inept at developing them that you hardly even try, why bother? I'd much rather see a bunch of nameless goons firing big guns at alien invaders than watch this ham fisted attempt at making me care for walking corpses.
What makes it so frustrating is that Aaron Eckhart is a phenomenal actor and he actually gives it a shot, he tries to bring Nantz to life, despite his hackneyed back story. To be completely honest, there were a few times where I rooted for the good guys, just because Eckhart is so damn likable and it got me caught up in the moment. But those times were few and far in between and every single one is completely forgettable.
Not only does the film use ideas and devices that have been done to death, but it uses them several times over. There are more than a few times where the good guys celebrate what they think is a victory, only to pause, startled, at a new sound/sensation/movement that reveals that not only is the enemy unphased, but stronger than ever. It's these things that were tired from the start and only serve to roll your eyes at as the film drags on.
Battle: Los Angeles is one long action scene that employs every Marine and alien invasion cliché that you can think of. Even with Eckhart being such a charming man, this one is epically lame.
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