I blame Johann Johnansson’s sweeping ‘The Sun’s Gone Dim’ track for leading me to believe that Battle: Lost Angeles was going to be a great film. The dialogue-free trailer, backed by the epic orchestral-electro number, made the film look like a ballsy, all-out action sci-fi. Following the success of District 9 and Monsters, and with Cowboys and Aliens and other hyped blockbusters on the horizon, it seemed that the alien invasion might be experiencing a modest revival.
Jonathan Liebseman’s west coast catastrophe begins temptingly enough; unnerving alien activity occurs early on, and a vague conflict is established between Eckhart’s staff sergeant and the younger, distrusting recruits. The excitement of the international news snippets and the rallying of the (remaining) troops continues well into the first half of the film, washed down with great visuals and some arm-rest gripping scares. Once the film reaches the obligatory breathing space though, it immediately loses it’s credibility, and edge. The characters open their hearts and there are some laughably schmaltzy lines, leaving the rest of the film to lazily unravel at a frustratingly slow pace.
Battle: Los Angeles ploughs a great deal of energy into the ‘what if..?’ question, and delivers in a satisfying manner. But at the slightest whiff of emotion, the film loses its focus. There’s also the fact that the film plays out precisely like a computer game, and the cinematic value of that really does have to be questioned