Beyond the alien invasion plot in Battle: Los Angeles, sci-fi takes the backseat to what is essentially a military war movie. That's not to say it's not an enjoyable film, but for those of you hoping to see more science fiction than fighting, you'll be sorely disappointed.
If it's an escapist action movie you're looking for, then you're in luck. But why is it that the big studios feel so ashamed of sci-fi and always try and water down its content in their movies and TV shows? Didn't an episodic television series like LOST prove that large audiences could stomach complex plots, time-travel and alien technology over many seasons. And need I say Avatar to anyone?
Anyway, I digress. Battle: LA is filled to the rafters with cliches, disposable and unrecognisable characters (mainly due to their bulky Marine kit) and a fairly predictable plot.
But what it does offer is a chance to see California under siege and a sprawling city like L.A. devastated by an invasion, alien or otherwise. It was the oddest sensation emerging from the cinema in to the L.A. afternoon sunshine, I had to check to make sure all the buildings were standing around me and not ablaze.
The movie is also so much better than Skyline (which is funny considering the directors of that movie, Colin and Greg Strause, also handled the visual effects on this movie, which caused many a legal wrangling), but unlike that film where you saw more of the aliens, in Battle: LA it feels like you're only teased by the attackers extra-terrestrial nature. The threat just doesn't feel very 'alien' for want of a better word.
Saying all that I did enjoy the film and thought it was good mindless fun. Don't listen to the film critics or worry that this is just a glorified recruitment propaganda for the Marines, it's just a movie after all. Some people will like it, some won't.
Personally I would have liked some more hardcore sci-fi and less military action, but it entertained me for 116 minutes and deserves three *** stars from me.
Let's hope the fantastical Sucker Punch at the end of March doesn't disappoint.
Only time will tell...