Throughout the years, films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Close Encounters of The Third Kind, Contact and ET have presented us with thought-provoking perspectives on extraterrestrial life.
Battle: Los Angeles is not one of them. Perhaps it should have been retitled US Marines Save the World (Again).
The film follows a company of marines deployed out of California’s Camp Pendleton, as a flurry of meteors starts landing off the coasts of various cities throughout the world.
Military authorities eventually determine that they are mechanical in origin and, in one memorable moment, as a marine sergeant is voicing to one of his men that they are extraterrestrial, the reply is “You mean they’re from outer space?”, his rejoinder is “No, from Canada.”
It’s that kind of a film. The dialogue, what little there is that’s meaningful beyond shouted orders, is frequently muffled behind thick American accents, or the constant barrage of heavy artillery, machine gun fire and explosions, which never lets up throughout the film.
Battle: Los Angeles isn’t even filmed in Los Angeles, but in Louisiana.
Its scant narrative follows a marine patrol trying to make its way to a police station in Santa Monica, to rescue a group of civilians who are still holed up there after the order has gone out to evacuate the city.
They are racing against time, because the air force, in its wisdom, plans to bomb the entire city within an hour, to rid it of the alien presence.
We catch occasional views of the aliens as they scurry along rooftops – tall, insect-like bipeds, with their antique-looking, lumbering giant spacecraft swooping overhead.
We never do learn why they are here, beyond some TV talking-heads speculation that they’ve come to colonize us for our water, it being a scarce commodity throughout the universe, and a necessity to power their spaceships.
How they got here in the first place if their fuel source is in such short supply, we are left to speculate.
No matter; the marines are the main draw, anyway. Character development is minimal, beyond the company grousing and mumbling about its staff sergeant Michael Nantz. He’s played by Aaron Eckhart, an otherwise fine actor (Dark Knight, Thank You for Smoking), who’s totally wasted here.
Nantz has been recalled from imminent retirement at the end of his current tour of duty end to fight the aliens. He was also supposedly responsible for the deaths of some of the men in his previous command.
He, of course, redeems himself through his heroic exploits. And that’s about it.
Noisy and dumb, Battle Los Angeles has little going to redeem itself. Incredibly, it was rated No. 1 at box offices on opening week, grossing $35.6 million.
Battle: Los Angeles plays at 7:00 and 9:15 pm at the Qwanlin Cinema, and is rated 14A for frequent violence.