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Battle: Los Angeles (Blu-ray Review)

10 Jun, 2011 By: John Latchem

Street 6/14/11
Sony Pictures
Box Office $83.6 million
$28.95 DVD, $34.95 Blu-ray, $38.96 Blu-ray/DVD combo pack
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sustained and intense sequences of war violence and destruction, and for language.
Stars Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez, Ramon Rodriguez, Bridget Moynahan, Ne-Yo, Michael Peña.

If you like watching others play video games rather than playing yourself, then Battle: Los Angeles is for you.

The relentless actioner from director Jonathan Liebesman and screenwriter Chris Bertolini throws in just enough plot development to keep things moving. Alien armies have launched an all-out assault on the world’s coastal cities. As the military plans to bomb them, a Marine unit is sent into Santa Monica to clear out civilians.

The unit is stocked with an assortment of faceless troopers who only stick around long enough to serve as cannon fodder. Most of the attention falls on a retiring staff sergeant played by Aaron Eckhart, whose character causes some friction with the others at first because he once got his whole unit wiped out in Iraq. Other troopers include a freshly minted 2nd lieutenant (Ramon Rodriguez of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen), a corporal (played by R&B star Ne-Yo) hoping to survive until his wedding and a lance corporal (played by Jim Parrack of “True Blood”) just getting over a bout of PTSD. And Michelle Rodriguez shows up as an Air Force tech sergeant with knowledge that may help defeat the aliens.

Liebesman describes his take on the film as a war movie with aliens in it (think Saving Private Ryan meets District 9). The filmmakers used hand-held cameras to give the film a gritty feel and put viewers in the middle of the action, which makes it difficult at times to follow what’s going on (not that you really need to). Eckhart grounds the film with an assured performance, and the combat scenes take on an added layer of realism thanks to the extensive military training undertaken by the cast prior to filming (as detailed in one of the bonus featurettes). Despite some lip service paid to war movie clichés, the end result stands as a testament to the spirit of our men and women in uniform.

The extras consist of an extensive array of featurettes that total a little more than an hour of behind-the-scenes footage. The film comes with a “Command Control” mode that offers picture-in-picture interviews and featurettes as the movie plays (though the featurettes can also be viewed separately).

Other featurettes focus on the design of the aliens as well as the production design, which required re-creating parts of Los Angeles in Louisiana (leading to the clever title “Creating L.A. in LA”). Apparently the trick to mimicking Southern California was lots of palm trees and telephone poles. Who knew it was that simple?

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