From the Editor

Movie Review Archive

Thank you for checking out my movie review archive. I'm in the process of transitioning to something else, so I will no longer post new reviews to this blog. In the meantime, I will keep these reviews archived; these are from the fall of 2008 to April 2011. Please watch this blog for more info and keep in touch (you can still find me on Facebook and Twitter). Here's to more great movies!

Wes Singleton

North Texas Film Critics Association

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Battle: Los Angeles - C+

Rated PG-13 for sustained and intense sequences of war violence and destruction, and for language, 110 minutes

"Battle: Los Angeles" is a loud but entertaining fight

Aliens are invading. Again. That's the simple new premise of the unoriginal new action sci-fi thriller "Battle: Los Angeles," a movie that will make you very, very thankful for earplugs. "Battle: L.A." is a turbulent, tiresome video-game package of a movie, slickly done to appeal to the senses in the gaudiest way. With that in mind, "Battle: L.A." packs a wallop visually, with stunning special effects and a pace that would leave Will Smith breathless, but its cornball storyline and redundant intensity are likely to leave you exhausted.

Aaron Eckhart is Marine Staff Sergeant Michael Nantz, a veteran who's on his way out but is drawn back in when alien forces begin invading Earth. The mysterious alien forces are out to destroy mankind and take over Earth to use it for its natural resources, primarily the need for water. Los Angeles is one of the last major centers of the West still standing, and its up to Nantz and his troops, including Air Force Sgt. Santos (Michelle Rodriguez) and a pretty civilian (Bridget Moynihan) he meets along the way.

"Battle: Los Angeles" is a conventional, entertainingly headache-inducing action film that's peppered with some impressive visuals and a breathless pace. If you slow down long enough, you'll realize the predictability of the sappy plot and the cookie-cutter characters you'll find in just about every sci-film this side of "Avatar." Director Jonathan Liebesman, who's helmed mostly horror films such as "Darkness Falls" and the "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" reboot, serviceably handles the visuals, but you'll quickly realize where most of the money in this expensive production went to.

Eckhart, along with Rodriguez, Moynihan and Micheal Pena and Ne-Yo, headline a bland cast that is clearly secondary to the excessively loud visuals (note: there are gazillions of explosions in this movie). The plot is borrowed and predictable, and you'll know instantly that these guys will find a way to win, a familiar formula seen in so many other sci-fi films such as "War of the Worlds," "Independence Day" and "Cloverfield." Still, there are a handful of intensely enjoyable moments including a showdown on a deserted piece of L.A. freeway and of course the climactic showdown with the mothership. As a side note, none of this was actually filmed in Los Angeles, but the much cheaper Louisiana.

"Battle: Los Angeles" isn't nearly as terrible as you might expect it to be, and as mindless, guilty-pleasure entertainment it actually works well. It's also miles ahead of last fall's "Skyline," a dreadful, depressing film that seemed to have ripped off the plot of this movie (not to mention its visuals). Those that enjoy this type of thing will go and likely go again; those who enjoy their entertainment without earplugs or a headache should stay home and watch "The Big Bang Theory" on DVR.

Wes's Grade: C+