"The best invasion flick in awhile."
When scientists discover a cluster of asteroids in space on a collision course for Earth the military is dispatched to evacuate some of the coastal cities, among them, Los Angeles. But as the marines begin to mobilise it quickly becomes evident that this is no evacuation mission. The asteroids aren’t asteroids, they’re aliens and Earth is about to face a threat unlike anything we’ve seen before.
I have to begin this review by saying that I love alien invasion flicks, from the half dozen or so versions of INVATION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS to one of my all time favourites, THE FACULTY. What I found most intriguing about this one was the fact that we’re not seeing the story unfold through the eyes of the public for a change, instead we get our intel straight from the army. Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the idea of a small band of civilians saving the planet from a vicious alien attack as much as the next guy, but at the end of the day I’d rather put my faith in the few and the proud who are actually paid and trained to protect us. I’m not much for war themed films but this was one war I was totally down with.
I’ve always felt that if we did get invaded, well, for lack of a better word we’d be screwed. Most films show us getting lucky when it comes to overpowering our alien attackers but to anyone familiar with battle, luck doesn’t tend to win wars, it always plays a part I’m sure, but strategy is where it’s at. These aliens sneak up on us INDEPENDANCE DAY style only far more inconspicuously, that’s something I never liked about INDEPENDANCE DAY, are you really going to tell me that no one on Earth could put what they were so blatantly doing together until the last minute when all their ships were in place? At least here, they don’t give us the option of debating their intentions. This is what would happen if the Predator race ever got tired of hunting us for sport and decided to invade for real, only again, we’d be screwed.
What I did like was how they didn’t go overboard with the aliens ala SKYLINE. I mean, I dug SKYLINE’s premise but that ending was a bit much. These aliens resemble those from INDEPENDANCE DAY and are presented like soldiers and used here in a military fashion which mirrors and/or fits the military theme of this film nicely. An invasion wouldn’t be the all out gong show some films make it out to be, nor would the aliens risk all out exposure unless they knew for certain they’d cream us and there was nothing we could do about it. That’s what scouts are for. So when I see a flick like WAR OF THE WORLDS where they realize afterward that bacteria can kill them (oops) or even worse, SIGNS, where the aliens’ bane is water (which just happens to make up three quarters of our planet, way to drop the ball there guys), I can’t help but shake my head thinking these minute details might prove to be rather vital to set invasion.
BATTLEFIELD L.A. is a non-stop action vehicle that takes all the best things about war and alien films and jams them together for a high octane good time. Of course, there were a couple times when the tone dropped a beat or two and inserted the token “emotional heartstring” cord. I’m never opposed to this when done correctly but here it felt awkward and forced with the little kid and even the vet chick. I get that they’re going to run into civilians and that there’ll be casualties along the way but for me, I think the dilemma and guilt surrounding Aaron Eckhart’s character (his past decisions and their repercussions on his current plight) were set in place to provide more than enough emotional drama without going overboard. I also really dug the Solid Snake type tactics employed toward their mission’s final hour, it was believable and in my opinion the only way to properly get the job done. This was a refreshing prelude (and nod) to summertime blockbusters.