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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

August 20, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Accent

Unoriginal characters alienate viewers

Even with groundbreaking technologies developed in the last century, humans have no idea if life exists elsewhere. “Battle: Los Angeles” explores the possibility of technologically superior aliens who are bent on destroying all of humanity.

The movie follows Staff Sergeant Michael Nantz (Aaron Eckhart) and a group of soldiers as they struggle to ward off alien invaders determined to destroy humans and seize Earth’s water. The best military resources seem to be useless against the technologically advanced aliens, who storm Los Angeles in gigantic metal vehicles and wear suits of robot-like armor. However, once the military discovers an enemy weakness, the playing field is leveled, and it’s anyone’s planet.

Evident from the title, the film focuses on the invasion of Los Angeles, though attacks in other countries are revealed through archival newsreel footage. Los Angeles is an effective center for the action, emotionally impacting audiences as breathtaking images show the widely known city crumbling into smoky ruin.

Exciting battle scenes are by far the highlights of the film, showcasing action-packed combat between the aliens and the military, such as the gripping air fights between helicopters and extraterrestrial spaceships. Explosions and gunfire consume the city as enemies attack by air, land and sea. A particularly impressive scene shows the alien invaders marching in from the Pacific Ocean, launching missiles toward hundreds of citizens running for their lives.

Impressive CGI portrays large-scale destruction of the burning city of Los Angeles and depicts the dominating aliens as they attempt to wipe out mankind. Such well-done effects give a better sense of realism to the science-fiction plot.

The film features quick cuts and shots from multiple angles and distances. Director Jonathan Liebesman, primarily known for horror films such as “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning,” uses a handheld camera to achieve a jolting effect that thrusts viewers into the action. Frequent, unsteady zooms supply a hectic ambiance consistent with the chaotic plot. Sound effects also intensify the action as powerful noises substantiate epic explosions and deafening blasts, keeping audiences invested in the excitement on screen.

While “Battle: Los Angeles” excels as an action film, it hastily tries to incorporate distracting melodramatic elements. A military sergeant with a haunted past, a family’s struggle to stay together, sacrifices for the good of the troops — they’re all there but driven by unoriginal characters who are ultimately forgettable. But the acting, featuring Ne-Yo, Michael Penã and Michelle Rodrigue as some of the courageous soldiers, is solid as they manage to overcome the film’s poor characterization.

As an action movie, “Battle: Los Angeles” is strong, though unoriginal characterization and clichéd melodramatic elements hamper its ability to stand out among top end-of-the-world movies such as “Independence Day” and “The Day After Tomorrow.” Impressive CGI and major alien vs. military action make this film worth viewing and provide scenes that are out of this world.

“Battle: Los Angeles” was written by Christopher Bertolini and directed by Jonathan Liebesman.

2.5 out of 4 stars