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Battle: Los Angeles

Entry updated 3 January 2017. Tagged: Film.

Film (2011). Columbia Pictures in association with Relativity Media presents an Original Film/Legion Entertainment production. Directed by Jonathan Liebesman. Written by Chris Bertolini. Cast includes Aaron Eckhart, Cory Hardrict, Bridget Moynahan, Michelle Rodriguez, Ramón Rodríguez and Will Rothhaar. 116 minutes. Colour.

After Earth's major cities are attacked in a coordinated extraterrestrial Invasion, a unit of marines stranded behind enemy lines during a rescue mission to retrieve civilians from occupied Los Angeles (see California) is forced to take the war to the enemy. Shot in the grittily kinetic, handheld style canonized by Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down (2001), the most full-on Military SF film yet seen draws on the increasingly familiar documentary lexicon and syntax of records of the US experience of contemporary overseas interventions in urban conflict theatres to present an earnest, professionally authenticated attempt at applying contemporary combat models and analysis to an otherwise formulaic genre subject. Any potentially subversive force to the premise of a US forced into guerrilla fightback against overwhelming shock-and-awe tactics from a colonizing power is countered by a solemn reverence for service personnel and a recourse throughout to weak sf tropes: the aliens are after our water, but have an overly hub-centred command-and-control structure that can be taken out by a single large explosion; et cetera. The one wink of irony is the arrival mid-film of career typecastee Rodriguez (see Resident Evil [2002]; Avatar [2009]), who lifts an increasingly ludicrous film into the lower tiers of postmodern sublimity. Colin and Greg Strause, who provided principal effects, worked simultaneously on their own much cheaper and cheekier urban invasion picture Skyline (2010), prompting some legal fist-shaking from parent company Sony. [NL]


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