Archive for June 2nd, 2014

War as entertainment: ‘Battle: Los Angeles’ nearly succeeds in making mass destruction seem fun and entertaining

June 2, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
June 2, 2014

If one wanted to put an interesting spin on Battle: Los Angeles, the 2011 war flick directed by Jonathan Liebesman, one could imagine it as a romantic comedy rather than the straight-up action-adventure movie that it is.

In this reading, the protagonist, Staff Sgt. Michael Nantz (Aaron Eckhart), is not the haunted veteran who has just officially signed papers to retire from the U.S. Marines; he is an emotionally distant but fundamentally decent man who just needs the love of a good woman to let go of the dark, hazy past that is weighing him down. 2nd Lt. William Martinez (Ramon Rodriguez) isn’t a newly minted officer so green that he and his very pregnant wife struggle to attach his insignia properly to his uniform; he’s the pretty young class president with a boyfriend in college who needs to grapple with adversity in order to learn about leadership, and who inspires her deputy (Nantz). Michelle (Bridget Moynahan) is no longer a frightened veterinarian rescued by Martinez and Nantz’s platoon, but the age-appropriate potential love interest who helps Nantz rediscover his emotional side.

And the uncommunicative, relentlessly violent alien invaders (portrayed by countless special effects and props), rather than being extraterrestrial invaders who blast everything in their path, are… Um, maybe they’re the arrogant rich-kid sorority girls from the snobbish private university who are competing with Martinez and Nantz’s group for a $30,000 prize that the motley public university group needs to save an orphanage, but which the obnoxious sorority girls intend to invest in a McDonald’s that requires the demolition of an animal shelter stocked with exceedingly cute, well-behaved puppies and kittens?

Well, perhaps it’s a mistake to depict Battle: Los Angeles as anything other than it is: a pretty effective straight-up action-adventure romp that revels in violence, male bonding and other hallmarks of war movies.

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