Director: Jonathan Liebesman | 115 minutes | action, science fiction | Actors: Michelle Rodriguez, Aaron Eckhart, Bridget Moynahan, Joey King, Lucas Till, Taylor Handley, Michael Peña, Noel Fisher, Jim Parrack, Taryn Southern, Susie Abromeit, Ramon Rodriguez, Cory Hardrict, Will Rothhaar, Michelle Pierce, Ne-Yo , Jadin Gould, Keith Middlebrook
Our world has already been attacked several times, and sometimes even colonized, by an alien race. The most striking coverage is H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds, and the various films they tried to make of it. But also think of “Independence Day”, “Battlefield Earth” and “Mars Attacks!”. There are also countless examples of films in which we invade alien worlds. Consider, for example, “Avatar”, and to a lesser extent “Mission to Mars”. It seems almost inevitable that we will one day be overrun by aggressive aliens. It is no different in “World Invasion: Battle Los Angeles”. To begin with an important note, “Battle L.A.” is not “District 9”. Director Neil Blomkamp provided intelligent, low-level Sci-Fi that rivals the bigger names of the genre, such as “Alien” and “Blade Runner”. Or maybe a little less level, but the idea is clear. If you think – or at least hope – this latest addition will bring you a similarly modern drama, then “Battle Los Angeles” is clearly disappointing.
Fellow Johannesburger Jonathan Liebesman’s version of an alien invasion by a hostile race is clearly less classic than the surprise hit of its predecessor. If, on the other hand, you’re hoping for an entertaining action spectacle with some extraordinary firefights, an army of nigh unearthly alien creatures and “Black Hawk Down” style warfare, then you’re in the right place. We meet the team as they are flown into Los Angeles, now a partially ruined war zone, for a rescue mission. They have been sent to the Santa Monica Ward to track down and evacuate survivors of the most recent invasion – this part of town will be razed to the ground within hours to stop the alien advance. The impressive opening shots, the quick acquaintance with the main characters and the speed and bombast of the scene promise a lot of good – comparable to the brilliant ensemble introduction at the beginning of McTiernan’s “Predator”. Images of the intrepid soldiers at the start of the kinetic filmed war perils are interspersed with a news presenter who, à la ‘Independence Day’, lists the state of the world – international metropolises are being attacked on a large scale, and the world is in a panic. Brace yourself! Or? Unfortunately, the energetic first minute doesn’t last much longer than that. After the successful introduction, we are taken 24 hours back in time by means of a flashback, to a moment when the world has no awareness of the imminent havoc. A moment when we are introduced to staff sergeant Michael Nantz (Aaron Eckhart) and a number of his marines. One by one the stereotypes are presented. Nantz just signed his resignation as he is about to leave the force (an upcoming retirement; never a direct hint that something major is about to happen). His latest mission ended quite tumultuous and it is time to step back from it (again not something we can expect to be mentioned further on). Meanwhile, one corporal plans his wedding, while another is spotted with his pregnant wife. A third is ridiculed by his mates for clearly still a rookie, while a fourth grapples with the fact that he has just completed officer training and is about to be sent into battle with an entire team. Then there is an average scene full of average brotherhood. The names will be quoted one by one on the screen, but you won’t remember them – you don’t have to. After a good half hour of rippling predictability and the type of pathos that is usually better left to Michael Bay (sentimental music, unmotivated camaraderie, helicopters in formation, et cetera), Liebesman finally shifts back to the high gear of the opening scene. If you can let go of high hopes for an intelligent action movie, have peace of mind with much more accessible entertainment, and are ready for mountains of mind bliss, now is the time to get into the popcorn. What remains in the (spacious) second half of the film is in fact reasonably fine. Some heavy and intense firefights that wouldn’t be out of place in “Saving Private Ryan”, more spectacle than in “War of the Worlds” when it comes to alien weapon technology, and an army of aliens that own well put together – armored frogs that look like the prawns of “District 9” have sired offspring with ED-209 from “Robocop”.
What’s more, what “World Invasion: Battle Los Angeles” does quite well is scale, and the seemingly effortless focus of the film. Global warfare of an unknown kind on the one hand, oppressive guerrilla warfare in the streets of the California metropolis on the other. There are about twenty other cities – such as London, Paris and Tokyo – in dire need, but we don’t get to see much more of that than some quick TV news flashes. While the whole world is on fire, Liebesman manages to find the laudable self-restraint to spotlight only (part of a) large metropolis and a single team of marines. This is where the “Black Hawk Down” references come in, which are also fairly accurate. The focus of the fight remains Los Angeles (that clue, it turns out, is in the title). A battle in which you eventually become somewhat involved. As the team of Marines work in a nerve-racking way against time to save themselves, a handful of civilians, their largely destroyed (and spectacularly depicted) city and possibly the entire world, their fate is something you can do just about you would suspect based on the predictable first half. Be it on a small, human scale (will they make it?), Or on a massive, global scale (will we make it?). The overall picture could have lacked some standard sentiment, predictable complications and unnecessary background plot, but with regard to the tense atmosphere, the pulsating action and the pure entertainment of an equally large-scale and oppressive war spectacle, ‘Battle Los Angeles’ more than manages to overcome those shortcomings. to make. While, according to the rules, the whole thing opens some doors to the left and right for an at least as popcorn-sensitive sequel.