29 March 2011

Battle: Los Angeles

Going into this film, I thought that it would be yet another take on the almost exhausted genre that is an alien invasion on the human race. I wasn't wrong, and yet I wasn't right either.

Although it is the classic invasion story, there is so much more to it than that. We go into to the story from a viewpoint that I had yet to experience; a military one. Usually, I don't think much of war films, so I normally don't watch  them. The furthest into that genre I have ever been is Atonement, Brideshead Revisited and Pearl Harbour. So when my boyfriend likened this film to Black Hawk Down, I had no idea what he was talking about. What I do know, though, is that this is an intriguing film about the human race and their determination in the face of adversity as well as their fierce bonds of brother and sisterhood.

I personally enjoyed the film, even though it did have the same themes as many other alien films, including Independence Day and the ever enjoyable Evolution. Strangely, I want to liken it to films like 2012, as they both paint a picture of humans as caring beings who tend to help each other and band together in a crisis. The military viewpoint was a good decision for me, as it pushed the viewer right into the fray after some real heroes. I have to say, I think of military men and women with so much more respect after viewing this film. The amount of pure bravery in the face of certain death astounded me, and I reminded myself that people do this every day.

Although the characters were clearly military, the film showed hidden depths to them, as well as showing the harsh realities of war. The main character in particular was rather a lot more multi faceted than I had thought the film would show him to be. Played by Aaron Eckhart, the main character, Sgt Michael Nantz, is about to retire when he is forced into one last assignment that lands him straight in the middle of an alien invasion. Eckhart, who is most likely to be remembered from his performance in The Dark Knight, does a good job of playing the aloof retiree who is alleged to have abandoned his last team.

With an appearance from Michelle Rodriguez (Lost, Avatar) playing her usual bad-ass role and many virtual unknowns, this is not a star-studded cast, but I found that it didn't have to be as the performances were realistic and well done.

The film was a little slow at the start, but gradually moved up in pace. It did feel like it stopped and started at some points, where the film could have easily finished. However, I think that it finished at the right place. If it had finished any earlier, I would have left the cinema feeling like it had answered nothing. I wanted to know whether the humans won or not, and the end was just enough to conclude that they would. Of course, they left it hanging on a good end note, without giving away the rest of the world's situation.

The special effects were very good, and I was glad that it wasn't in 3D as I wouldn't have been able to watch it, being the flinching viewer that I am. The one thing I am truly disappointed in is that we never really got to have a good look at the aliens that were invading. I always want to see how the artists envisage an alien to look like, whether they are hairy or slimy, tall or tiny. Yet here I never truly got to see a whole alien. I suppose this is because the soldiers didn't really see a whole alien, but I really would have wanted to.

The aliens themselves were very interesting. They looked pretty slimy and you got a good look at their insides, which seem to be very watery. The reason for the invasion was also stated, which I find doesn't often happen in other alien invasion films. They give vague ideas of colonisation without implying what exactly they want. Here, they want water to fuel their ships and their bodies, which beckons the question; How did they get water to live in the first place? This is never answered unfortunately.

The aliens behave in a surprisingly human way. They attack the earth in the same way that we might attack another country; with precision, and a plan. They move their injured comrades out of firing range, just as the humans do, and they dart about trying not to get shot, much like humans do. The aliens are not so much apart from us in this particular film. These are military beings who mirror their human counterparts. It makes me think about our world too; we would kill an alien without a moments hesitation if they were invading us, and yet we do this to each other too.

I have to conclude that this film has really taught me a lot about respect and the nature of humans. Although the theme and the genre has been hugely overdone and some of the characters were not identifiable with the average viewer, I give this an 8 out of 10.

The Internet Movie Database Page for this movie can be found here.