“Battle: Los Angeles” (Sony)
Hoo-rah! The aliens have landed and the Marines are the first line of defense in this heavy metal alien invasion thriller by way of a traditional platoon drama. And I do mean traditional, right down the familiar soldier backstories, the short-timer about to leave and the personal grudges that are overcome in the crucible of battle, when true courage and sacrifice is shown.
Aaron Eckhart anchors the film as the veteran Staff Sergeant corralling a unit of young guns but it’s not about characters under fire, it’s about war movie types in the heat of battle, where the enemy has flying saucers and ray guns and all sorts of space age weapons. Director Jonathan Liebesman, making the leap from low-budget horror to big budget action, shoots it all with the artless “run and gun” style where the camera takes the perspective of a combat photographer with too much caffeine to keep his camera still. It’s great for creating chaos and jittery energy but no substitute for storytelling and this humorless film as unimaginative — and as exhausting — as you can get.