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Critical Mass: 'Battle: Los Angeles'

March 11, 2011 |  1:30 pm


There's nothing like a terrible science-fiction action flick to bring out the creative writing skills in a film critic. Whether they hated it or merely tolerated it, the paper-thin plot and familiar images of "Battle: Los Angeles" gave critics plenty to laugh at, tear down or otherwise sneer at. Bad it is. Boring it is not. The movie is about an invading alien force destroying the City of Angels, something we've seen countless times in everything from "War of the Worlds" to "Independence Day" to last fall's "Skyline."

The Times' Betsy Sharkey opens her tepid review calling for a moment of silence for "for all the brick and mortar that made the ultimate sacrifice for 'Battle: Los Angeles.' Sob. Let me just grab a tissue. Sorry."

It's so bad it even inspires some decidedly impure thoughts in the mind of Christianity Today reviewer Brett McCracken, who admits, "It's not a good sign when, at the end of an alien invasion movie, you're disappointed that the aliens have not emerged victorious."

Director Jonathan Liebesman's wall-to-wall blow-'em-up (which was actually filmed mostly in Louisiana) is getting such rancid reviews that some critics are finding themselves writing things they never would have dreamed of saying. Such as Detroit Metro Times reviewer Jeff Meyers, who writes, "Director Jonathan Liebesman is gunning for his Lord of the Action Movie title, even if he does lack Bay's (God, I can't believe I'm writing this) compositional prowess."

New York Times critic A.O. Scott tolerated the film for two-thirds of its running time but finally had to cut it loose with the detritus of every other lousy explodarama. As he writes, "Considered as an alien-invasion science-fiction allegory, it’s about as deep as the dimple on [Aaron] Eckhart’s chin, and as lean and square as his jaw."

With all this bile being shot toward "Battle: Los Angeles," it's shocking that anyone would enjoy it. But there are people out there. People like "Nordling" at Ain't It Cool News, whose review sounds like "Nordling" may be a pseudonym for Johnathan Liebesman's mother: "But Jonathan Liebesman pulls this straight out of the fire by giving us action sequences that had me riveted for the entire film.... They say you can't polish a turd but Liebesman by God did and the result is a good two hours of quality action cinema."

And leave it to Flick Filosopher Maryann Johanson to take a step back from the carnage and try to take a more ... philosophical approach to her review. "Look: 'Battle: Los Angeles'  is a metaphor. When it’s our cities looking like Baghdad, now we care. When it’s our kids being terrorized by invaders with guns, now we care. Santa Monica is behind enemy lines, for Christ’s sake." (The italics are hers.)

If you want to get really philosophical about it, it's two hours in a (probably) climate-controlled theater with (probably) comfortable seats and maybe even a sugary soda. How bad could anything be?


'Battle: Los Angeles' is projected to conquer the box office as 'Mars Needs Moms' flops

Photos: 'Battle: Los Angeles' premiere

Photos behind the scenes of 'Battle: Los Angeles'

— Patrick Kevin Day

Photo: Los Angeles! Nooooooooooo! Credit: Columbia TriStar.

Comments () | Archives (85)

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Loved it. But I'm not human. I'm a performance-capture figure in 3-D. Zick!

I do enjoy it when film critics wax poetic, no matter the muse. But I found it unsettling to read Roger Ebert's review of the film which ends by calling those who like the movie "idiots." Is it a film critic's job to insult those who disagree with him or her?

I don't care what anyone says, I loved it and I'll watch it again and again and again and again!!!

L.A. Rules!

The movie Battle for Los Angeles was actually based on true events. It seems as though extra terrestrial invaders did manage to invade, and take over. However, since they landed at Venice Beach...nobody noticed....

I saw it last night with my wife and it was hands down the most intense movie either one of us has ever seen. The realism of District 9 and far more tense than blackhawk down. Plot wasn't needed to give it emotion. Awesome movie! Ebert is just mad about his face.

The movie actually wasn't that bad if you watched it bit by bit... looked more like a sequence of cool action clips that way.

Of critics hate it - it shows the US and the military in an unabashedly positive light.

Is it a great film? Not by any means. But does it deserve the scorn being heaped upon it? Not remotely.

I wish I could be smug and just dump on every movie that doesn't meet the high intellectual standards that it must take to be a movie critic.

I seem to remember all that money that Hurt Locker made last year, too.

"Eckhart is a reliable pro, and he brings a sincere weight to his weathered staff sergeant. He commands his troops with a believable passion, and I could see why any marine would run into a crazy alien battle after one of his pep talks."

"Rodriguez, on the other hand, distinguishes herself by delivering monotone lines and sucking the energy out of any scene in which she speaks. She’s supposed to be the cool and collected tough girl, but she comes off as bored and fake."


Critics be damned. This was an amazing movie. The cinematography was brilliant, the action and story arc riveting. The story overall was far superior to any alien invasion movie.

This one feels real if you know what I mean. What do critics know? I have no idea. I went to the movie at the first local showing and it was awesome. Ticket sales and public opinion will be the real critic here.

The movie is fictional version of the actual event. "Battle of Los Angeles" or "The Great Los Angeles Air Raid," in February 1942.

Just three months after Pearl Harbor, on the night of February 24th, 1942 objects were sighted by spotters in the sky above Los Angeles. Air raid sirens went off and search lights scanned the skies. Jittery anti-aircraft gunners began to pummel the air with nearly 1400 shells. Residents came out of their houses to watch the action. Some were killed by falling shrapnel from the anti-aircraft fire.

No enemy planes were ever shot down, and later Army reports determined the objects to be weather balloons that had been sent up earlier in the evening. The balloons had drifted over the city. Anti-aircraft gunners and search light crews described slow moving round-shaped "whitish" objects.

The incident was called a case of "war jitters" by inexperienced spotters, anti-aircraft gunners and search light operators. After the war, records showed that the Japanese never flew aircraft over any part of the mainland US.

Though skeptics still believed there was something sinister in the air on that February night. Some UFO enthusiasts believed it was alien space craft.

The biggest problem I have with the movie....it was filmed in Louisiana (Baton Rouge and Shreveport) and not Los Angeles.

I don't know what all these critics are talking about. I saw the film yesterday and loved it. It's a alien-war film... what we're they expecting? And for the record, I don't love all sci fi films... the war of the worlds remake shouldn't have been remade and the Tron sequel was an absolute snore fest (in fact I fell asleep during it). Battle LA delivered on what it was supposed to do. It was a fun two hours of humans battling against an alien invasion force.

The movie was good if you love action and special effects. The critics can't say anything especially when they gave good reviews for slumdog millionaire which that movie absolutely sucked. I gave battle Los Angeles a rating of full price go watch it and enjoy.

LA has been invaded by aliens but not from outer-space

This movie was awesome... great cg and tons of action. It's anything from boring. If you dislike this movie you are either gay or a girl!

Aside from those character issues, there were a few other issues. The plot gets increasingly less believable as it goes, and there are a few too many “conveniences” along the way to keep the tension up. Without working radios, how would a helicopter know to land at an evacuation point in the middle of the city right as the group walks up to it? Why do the marines not use the night vision goggles on their helmets when they smoke clouds up the streets? There are too many plot holes and oversights like this.


My family and I really enjoyed the film. Very well done. It's interesting how sites that rate reviews show a majority of movie watchers loved it, but almost all critics hated it.

Just proves once again that movie critics don't know crap about making enjoyable films (just watch the Oscars and you'll agree). Critics stopped being useful many years ago (if they ever were).

Those who can't do, teach, and those who can't teach, critique (and are usually spitting bile at those who can do and teach).

I served in the Marine Corps at Camp Pendleton, and loved this movie. The only thing the negative reviews prove is that the pseudointellectuals writing them can't stand films that depict the military in a positive light.

Of course you libs don't like it. The movie isn't overly anti-military and anti-American like avatar.

According to Rottentomatoes, 71% of the audiences liked it. So, should we believe them or the critics? (It's entertainment folks and I'm sure not meant to be Gone With The Wind.)

I liked this movie. I who found Social Networking boring and far from the cinematic masterpiece found this a good story. Aliens attack earth in the effort to wipe humans from the earth and steal our resources. The lone company that finally finds a weakness in the enemy and is able to exploit it. The secondary story is the main character is a marine who was the only survivor of an attack on his platoon in Iraq or Afghanistan and how his new group isn't really sure of him especially since one of the men in this group brother died. Obviously if you didn't think there was a good story you weren't actually watching the movie. The only thing I didn't like about this movie was the shaky camera business. I myself don't trust critics actually watch a movie all the way through so I don't pay attention to what critics say if the movie sounds interesting I'll watch it. I don't care how terrible a movie is a critic should watch the whole movie.

It was a great movie.It seemed similar to Skyline with the alien invasion concept.The difference was that In Skyline the technology of the aliens was very far into the future.When the nuke hit the mothership it was completely destroyed,but was rebuilt in a few minutes.In Battle Los Angeles the aliens were more humaniod and their technology was not that much greater.The ending of Skyline seemed to be the end of humanity,but in Battle los angeles,the humans seemed to have won.I prefer Battle Los Angeles because I like the humans winning.

Obviously a sure MST3K mega-hit.

Critics are so out of touch, they watch movies that suck and bore real people to death then nominate them for some kind of award all the while trying to appear intellectual and artsy, they are so full of it. Ticket sales, movie rentals and fans are the only thing that matter and I haven't heard one bad thing yet from anyone I've ever met.

I saw it today [ I'm 58] with my daughter [27] and we both really enjoyed it. It's all about good action. It must be difficult for critics to understand there is a good sized market for a good shootem up good guys win movie.

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