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Battle : Los Angeles

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By Mike A.Smith

It’s just another day at Camp Pendleton, the Marine base on the California coast. After 20 years, and a bad day in Iraq, SSGT Michael Nantz (Eckhart) has put in his papers. Later in the day a series of meteors begin peppering the earth, concentrating on the coastlines of the various continents. But these meteors aren’t just harmless rocks…they house a hostile life form that wants to make earth their new home. Looks like Nantz won’t be hanging those boots up just yet.

Action packed from beginning to end, “Battle: Los Angeles” is the bigger, badder brother to “Independence Day.” But where that film only gave us a brief glimpse of the enemy, here the invaders and their weapons are on full display. Tall and gangly (think a combination of an old fashioned clothes pin and the “prawns” from ”District 9”) the aliens have no problem killing anything in their paths. The young group of Marine’s that Nantz assembles on his team come right out of central casting: there’s the young lieutenant with a pregnant wife, the fresh faced kid from off the farm, the man who’s due to be married soon. And there’s the Marine who’s brother was killed during Nantz’ bad day in Iraq. That you learn just enough about these troops to make you care for them is a credit to the young actors, including Ramon Rodriguez, Noel Fisher, singer Ne-Yo and Cory Hardrict. Michelle Rodriguez and Moynihan also lead a strong female side of the cast.

But the star here is Eckhart, coming off a brilliant performance in last year’s “Rabbit Hole.” His face weathered and his body and nerves reacting to having witnessed two decades of war, he has a strong and silent presence that instills courage in the others.

The battle scenes, which are pretty much non-stop, are outstanding. The aliens have a killing drone that looks like it’s part “Empire Strikes Back” AT-AT and part ED209 from “Robocop.” Whatever it is, it’s pretty bad ass! But as great as the scenes are staged, if we didn’t care about the characters it would just be a bunch of noise and smoke. Director Liebesman is on board to helm the “Clash of the Titans” sequel. And as much as I disliked the first film, having his name attached has me looking forward to the follow up.

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