Battle: Los Angeles  (Rated PG)     3 Stars

04-06-11-movie-review.jpgYes, we can all agree that Skyline was awesome, or, at the very least, awesomely bad. It was an honest B-movie filled with D-List actors with no pretensions to greatness. Battle: Los Angeles (116 minutes) is the film that the special effects guys Greg and Colin Strause worked on before/during/after creating Skyline. Sony Pictures Entertainment planned to sue when their movie came out before Battle: Los Angeles, with the idea that the Strause Brothers had gotten their ideas while doing the special effects for this other movie. Well, both movies employ the ever-popular, ever irritating, cinema verite shaky cam. Both films focus on an alien invasion in La La land. Beyond that, the films are pretty different. I would say that Skyline is an enjoyable, nerd-friendly monster flick while Battlefield: Los Angeles is a one-dimensional action movie with sci-fi trimmings.

In August of 2011 gas prices in California will apparently settle around $2.96 per regular gallon. So we have that to look forward to. Also, there will be meteors that turn out to not be meteors, but aliens. Much like Independence Day the government brain trust figures that out when the so-called meteors start slowing down.

Some U.S. Marine beefcakes assemble at Camp Pendleton to get their marching orders, while the exposition fairy sprinkles backstory over their uniformed heads. Our hero-by-default is Staff Sergeant Michael Nantz (Aaron Echkart). Nantz is getting ready to retire (Of course. Of course he is.) when he is called back into action by the alien invasion.

Gosh, there sure are a lot of dudes in the Marines. Except that one blonde girl with the nice smile and the freckles, but she is basically playing the role of the one lady in uniform from the “Citizen Soldier” video, so it’s not like we’re gonna see her again.

So, anyway, there are hostile aliens. The government, reasoning that California’s economy sucks anyway, decides to nuke the coast, killing the alien invaders and balancing the budget with a single stroke. Whoops … that’s how I pictured it working out. Instead, they send a handful of Marines with mental health issues to rescue hypothetical civilians from the LAPD. Their mission has a three-hour time limit, but instead of a helicopter drop to a nearby location, they head in on foot and start looking at shiny things.

They make enemy contact several times and finally settle in to figure out what has gone wrong with their strategy of walking straight down the middle of the street making lots of noise. Arriving just in time to help them figure out that particular mystery is an Air Force Intelligence Technical Sergeant Elena Santos (Michelle Rodriguez). They regroup and head to the police station where they find a grand total of five civilians. Which, really? That hardly seems worth the effort, even if one of the civvies is played by Bridget Moynahan. After all, the other one is played by Michael Pena, and his skill set is pretty much limited to looking befuddled. See if you can guess which one survives and which one is used for an emotionally manipulative death scene!

The plot begins to wander at this point. The movie goes on, which I’m gonna blame on the writers having no idea how to end it. If you can picture enjoying Black Hawk Down with aliens instead of insurgents, this one’s for you. If not, then do yourself a favor and rent Skyline.

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