Independence Day is basically the high standard for alien invasion films. Sure the ending is silly and the concept that a small computer virus takes down an entire alien fleet is just well… Stupid. Still the movie had some heart warming moments, scary moments, and frankly bad ass moments including Will Smith lines including: “Welcome to Earth” and my personal favorite “Stop shooting that green shit at me!”. War of the Worlds did a very decent job besides one of the biggest cop outs of all time on screen… I mean how did that kid survive? The entire hill side exploded! Anyway Battle: Los Angeles finally did something everyone wanted to see which is a gritty alien invasion movie. What would happen if aliens invaded us on a street by street level? Ground war baby! No tri-pods, no city sized ships? Battle: LA shows us that basically being invaded by aliens would seriously suck ass.
First off I want to tell you there might be SPOILERS AHEAD so read this with warning……. Alright so the film starts with quick shots of the invasion. Obviously one will remember images of the US invasion of Iraq. Then we jump back twenty four hours and follow the lives of several US marines. The main guy is Aaron Eckhart who plays a man basically tired of being old and having past decisions weigh down his thought process. So he is retiring from the military. Then we get to meet other marines, a rookie, a guy getting married, a guy about to have a baby. We get these small moments with these characters to obviously connect with them because things get serious quickly. News reports respond that asteroids are crashing into the ocean but only outside of big cities. The military learns that these asteroids are slowing down before impact… So obviously something is wrong. This I really enjoyed, the military has a no bull shit response to this. One these things hit the water they are called in to help evacuate civilians. Some men respond with expected comments about them facing off with aliens. No one stops to explain how it’s possible or some long winded talk about life from outer space, nope they get their orders and they load on to helicopters.
Then the battle begins and the film kicks into an epic mode that frankly we’ve never seen before. These aliens aren’t interested in blowing up large buildings or monuments. Nope they quickly start assaulting the population off of the coast. The city of Santa Monica is destroyed. Once the soldiers land things get tense. The film obviously takes a lot of its style from Black Hawk Down, a lot of hand held shots and quick cuts to make the audience experience the tension the soldiers feel as they move down vacant streets. The best part of the film is the first fire fight. Smoke covers everything as the aliens ambush our soldiers in a residential neighborhood.
The movie doesn’t hesitate to kill off soldiers which does leave you on edge a bit. The story continues on as they toss in civilians the soldiers try to save. Of course there are kids but that is expected in a movie like this. But unlike most films the children barely have lines and are not used to pluck at heart strings. I really admired that with this movie. The soldiers basically push forward and fight in a police station, on a high way and then finally they try and take the fight to the aliens. Speaking of them they are what make this film stand out from others. The creatures themselves are odd looking and are seen in quick glimpses. What I love is their ships and weapons are not sleak and pretty. They are clunky and they seems to use bullets and rockets instead of lasers. The aliens ships are actually weak and they use technology that almost seems dated compared to cool stuff you see in military magazines. I loved this about the film. Also as characters watch the news we hear a possible reason for the invasion and it’s the best one I’ve ever heard. The aliens invade and destroy only costal cities, why? Because they want water. That makes total sense. In other films it’s unclear why aliens invade. In the film Signs the aliens invade even though water hurts them, Earth was a bad choice to invade. In ID4 it looks like the only purpose to invade was to quick ass. War of the Worlds at least made it seem the aliens wanted our blood. Here it’s obvious what the goals are by the aliens and they use almost basic military tactics to get it.
The film does have some problems though, it’s pg-13 rating really holds it back. Soldiers not curing just doesn’t seem real. If rated R the violence could have been taken up a notch and possibly really made this movie hit home. The violence we see is never really clear. Soldiers get hit but we’re not sure where, when they die it’s usually in a ball of flame and never shot dead. The only reason we know people our dying is because occasionally they find a body. The lack of violence made the aliens not as threatening in my eyes. The script also has some serious dialogue issues, Eckhart is just so good that he fights through it. But the dialogue gets a little hammy and almost starts feeling like they just took line from old war movies. I’m not sure if that’s what they were trying to do but it did take me out of the film a little.
Overall though the film is a very solid war film and a better science fiction film. The ending is corny but it left me wondering if a sequel was possible. Maybe a franchise of Battle: New York or Battle: Miami. They would have to do something clever though to further the story and the invasion. What I would do is make a Battle: Kansas City and have the aliens push deeper into the country.