There are tough, kickass aliens coming to Earth with an invasion plan that includes taking over major cities throughout the world. NASA’s figured it out at the last minute, but it’s kinda too late, so we’re going to have to rely on a bunch of US Marines that are training at Camp Pendelton, just south of Los Angeles, to ensure LA doesn’t fall under alien control. Unlike the recent miserable alien invasion film Skyline, Battle Los Angeles really does have some scary aliens who seem pretty unstoppable. Of course we humans prevail in the end (it wouldn’t be much of a film otherwise) but the way in which we defeat them isn’t some daft story twist like the common cold of War of the Worlds, but something more plausible and consistent with current military technology.
The film starts right out with a battle scene, then rewinds back 24 hours and gives us the cliché backstory of the individual Marines, notably including Staff Seargent Michael Nantz (Aaron Eckhart), who has just quit the Marine Corps after twenty years due to a failed mission in which all of his troops were killed. He can’t quit, though, we’re being attacked!
The key word in this review is cliché. Fact is, Battle Los Angeles is rife with just about every trope you can imagine in an alien invasion / war film. From the rescue mission to bring civilians out of the Santa Monica war zone, complete with High Noon-style missile strike launch countdown, to the children they have to bring out of the zone, to the Booyah! of the soldiers impassioned attacks in the midst of hot firezones, it really is a catalog of film clichés.
But even with that, I found Battle Los Angeles enjoyable and reasonably satisfying. The acting is tolerable (I mean, really, how “should” people act when they’re confronted with a weird alien creature?) and there were a few scenes where I felt like I was going to gag over the trite dialog, but they were balanced by the alien and human body count, the never-ending stream of bullets and missiles, and the general mayhem of what seemed at times a surprisingly believable alien invasion action thriller.