Review (2011): ‘Battle: LA’ didn’t check the gas prices

OK, it’s going to take a major bond issue to repair Los Angeles after this invasion.

Battle: Los Angeles (PG-13, 116 minutes:) In Battle: Los Angeles, set in August of 2011, we have aliens splashing down on Earth to harvest our natural resources and exterminate us pesky humans.

Check. Totally buy that.

We have a U.S. Marine squad blindly rushing into war-torn Santa Monica to rescue civilians holed up in an overrun police station.

OK. Plausible.

We have alien ground troops, obviously with advanced technology, consistently being outgunned by Marines carrying standard-issue automatic weapons and a laser.

Hmmm. I can almost buy that.

Along a battle-strewn street, we see a gas station advertising unleaded for $2.96 a gallon.

Whoa, now wait a minute, Speed Racer!

Unleaded is going for $4.89 today on the Santa Monica end of Wilshire Boulevard.

Now that it’s been established as fiction, I will admit that Battle: LA was a fun way to burn nearly two hours. It’s a mashup of all kinds of military-movie staples: Independence Day and Blackhawk Down, to name a couple. In cinematic style, it had elements of Skyline and Cloverfield. In some parts, it’s a U.S. Marine Corps. recruitment pitch.

It’s not so much that these movies are rehashed as it is repurposed into one movie.

If anyone goes into this believing there’s a moral message or hoping to see something new, they’re going to be disappointed.

Aaron Eckhart, whom we last remember as the DA/Two Face in The Dark Knight, gets to be campy again as a combat-hardened staff sergeant. Michelle Rodriguez now appears to be typecast as a wise-cracking Latino soldier as she reprises the role she played in Avatar.

But the rest of the characters are forgettable. In fact, it seemed like the same secondary characters kept getting knocked off over and over.

The selling point of this movie is the action, not the quality of dialogue.

And it’s a lot of action. Important viewing tip: Don’t sit too close to the screen. The action fills the screen. It’s also frantic, which is a production technique to avoid less-than-stellar CGI.

Personally, I liked this movie because I love Santa Monica and spent my last vacation there (it was disheartening to see the pier rollercoaster on fire because I rode it this summer). In high school, I wanted to go there to retire at age 18.

Well, I’m glad I didn’t. I know now that I could be at Ground Zero on an alien invasion.

BEST TIME FOR A BATHROOM BREAK: When it looks like the characters are going to get serious, make a run then. Or when there’s an attempt at character development, go for it. Like I mentioned, the selling point is the action.

DATE MOVIE? It’s a guy movie. If you’re owed one for a sappy Valentine’s Day movie, this is the time to collect. My wife joined me for Battle: LA and was glad when it was over.

OK, FOR KIDS? Nerf-gun-carrying kids will love it. The scenes aren’t really that gory. The language is a bit crude and there’s one bad word that’s really not necessary. My 12-year-old would be more concerned with the pier roller coaster on fire.


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