Battle: Los Angeles (Blu-ray / DVD)
Directed by Jonathan Liebesman
Distributed by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
If Jonathan Liebesman's alien invasion flick taught me anything, it was that sometimes a bitchin' ad campaign can really, and I mean really, hurt a movie in the end. Battle: Los Angeles had some of the very best trailers we've ever seen, and as a result expectations grew so high that they could never be met. After the dismal Skyline audiences were hungry for a true "us vs. them" epic. This looked to be it. The operative word here is "looked".
We've seen the story a hundred times before. Aliens attack our planet with only one goal in mind: the complete and total extermination of human life. What do they want? To kill. What is their goal? To blow us all into oblivion. A team of Marines lead by the recently called back to duty Staff Sergeant Michael Nantz (Eckhart) have been assembled to help evacuate Santa Monica before everyone there is fried beyond recognition. After locating a group of civilians (which include Michael Pena and Bridget Moynahan), the chase is on to get to safety amidst a war zone filled with warships, alien troops, and every other tiny bit of chaos that can be thrown at someone.
In reality Battle: Los Angeles doesn't do too much wrong. If there's any problem that really drags it down, it's that it takes itself far too seriously, and as a result the run between one action setpiece to another becomes more tedious than it does fun. This approach does work for more serious films like Black Hawk Down and the like, but here we're fighting aliens for Christ's sake! I'm not saying we need a Will Smith character punching invaders in the face while yelling catch phrases, but a certain degree of acknowledging the absurdity of the situation would have really gone a long way in benefiting the experience as a whole in the end. For a more detailed account of the film itself, dig on The Foywonder's Battle: Los Angeles review here.
In terms of which looks and sounds better, do we really have to get into that? Yes, the Blu-ray takes it as per usual. In fact the AVC encoded image (2.35:1 aspect ratio) looks nothing short of stunning in high definition. The transfer is super clean, and the detail is jaw dropping. You can see every single spec of dust in the air and on clothing. The black levels are dead on, and the skin tones on our rugged square-jawed Marines is natural and pitch perfect. We have not a single complaint. The only thing that could possibly enhance this further is an incredible sound mix, and the 5.1 DTS-HD track does exactly that. Given a good home theatre system, your house will sound like a veritable war zone as every channel comes alive with bombastic clarity. This is a sterling example of what Blu-ray is all about.
Then there's the supplemental material. The DVD is home to four behind-the-scenes featurettes that range between five and about twenty minutes each, and the Blu-ray is home to them, plus three more. All are pretty much what you would expect and are listed below. All features can be accessed on the Blu-ray via picture-in-picture and Command Control during the film as well. Know what's missing? Those spectacular trailers. Funny, huh? It's almost as if Sony doesn't want to remind us about them.
Battle: Los Angeles is a slightly above average invasion flick that could have been nothing short of epic if all of the right pieces had fallen into place. It's one of those flicks that you watch, shrug, nod, and move on to something else immediately after viewing. Eventually the ultimate invasion film will come to pass. Here's hoping we get the movie we're all dying to see one day.
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
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