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Battle: Los Angeles – Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 3, 2011 by  



“Battle: Los Angeles” has jumped on my list as one of the best audio-driven films on Blu-ray for 2011.  The film makes you feel you’re right there and feeling every rumbling, hearing all shots and explosions all around you, close-up, from a distance… The audio is that awesome!  Granted, the film is not a deep, serious action film… in fact, it’s your straight-up popcorn action film! If you are craving for an alien invasion/war film that’s all about the action, then “Battle: Los Angeles” is for you!

Images courtesy of © 2011 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. and Beverly Blvd LLC. All Rights Reserved

TITLE: Battle: Los Angeles – Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack

FILM RELEASE DATE: 2011

DURATION: 116 minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (widescreen 2:40:1), English and French5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English – Audio Description Track Dolby Surround

RATED: PG-13 (Sustained and Intense Sequences of War Violence and Destruction and for Language)

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RELEASE DATE: June 14, 2011

Directed by Jonathan Liebesman

Written by Christopher Bertolini

Produced by Jeffrey Chernov, Ori Marmur, Neal H. Moritz

Executive Producer: David Greenblat

Associate Producer: Lisa Rodgers

Production Executive: Samuel Dickerman

Music by Brian Tyler

Cinematography by Lukas Ettlin

Edited by Christian Wagner

Casting by Debra Zane

Production design by Peter Wenham

Art Direction by Andrew Neskoromny, Chris L. Spellman, Thomas Valentine

Set Decoration by Bob Kensinger

Costume Design by Sanja Milkovic Hays

Starring:

Aaron Eckhart as Sgt. Michael Nantz

Ramon Rodriguez as 2nd Lt. William Martinez

Will Rothhaar as Cpl. Lee Imlay

Cory Hardrict as Cpl. Jason Lockett

Jim Parrack as Lcpl. Peter Kerns

Gino Athnoy Pesi as Cpl. Nick Stavrou

Ne-Yo as Cpl. Kevin Harris

Michelle Rodriguez as Tsgt. Elena Santos

James Hiroyuki Liao as Lcpl. Steven Mottola

Noel Fisher as Pfc. Shaun Lenihan

Bridget Moynahan as Michele

Adetokumboh M’Cormack as Corpsman Jibril Adukwu

Bryce Cass as Hector Rincon

Michael Pena as Joe Rincon

Joey King as Kirsten

Neil Brown Jr. as Lcpl. Richard Guerrero

Taylor Handley as Lcpl. Corey Simmons

Lucas Till as Cpl. Scott Grayston

Kenneth Brown Jr. Cpl. Richard Oswald

Jadin gould as Amy

Joe Chrest as 1st Sgt. John Roy

E. Roger Mitchell as Company Captain

Rus Blackwell as Lt. Col. K.N. Ritchie

Susie Abromeit as Amanda

Witness the end of civilization unfold as hostile alien invaders attack the planet. As people everywhere watch the world’s great cities fall, Los Angeles becomes the last stand for mankind in a battle no one expected. Now it’s up to a Marine staff sergeant (Aaron Eckhart) and his platoon to draw a line in the sand as they take on an enemy unlike any they’ve ever encountered in this epic sci-fi action film.

A film with much more realistic “in your face” battles compared to “Independence Day”, more thrilling than “War of the Worlds” and yes, its another alien invasion film being released but “Battle: Los Angeles” was definitely one hell of a Blu-ray to watch!

In 2011, director Jonathan Liebesman (“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, “Darkness Falls”) and writer Christopher Bertolini (“The General’s Daughter”, “Madso’s War”) were responsible for the military/alien invasion sci-fi film starring Aaron Eckhart (“The Dark Knight Returns”, “Thank You For Smoking”, “Rabbit Hole”), Michelle Rodriguez (“Avatar”, “Resident Evil”, “Fast & Furious”), Ne-Yo (“Stomp the Yard”, “Precious”) and Bridget Moynahan (“I, Robot”, “Lord of War”, “Serendepity”).

Although known for his horror films, Liebesman wanted to make a realistic depiction of an alien invasion ala war film and drew inspiration from the marines fighting in Fallujah in creating the film.  But also inspired by the actual “Battle of Los Angeles” false alarm that took place in Los Angeles back in 1942 when there was fear that the Japanese were going to attack the city and anti-aircraft artillery was shot over the city causing damage and even a few casualties.

So, taking these inspirations and wanting that documentary-like feel, despite many films being released in 3D, this movie was not as Liebesman wanted a documentary style of filmmaking and thus the use of handheld cameras.  He wanted authenticity and thus the actors went through three weeks of boot camp to learn how to operate as a military platoon, while lead actor trained with the Marines for months in weapons training and drills.

The film revolves around SSgt. Michael Nantz (played by Aaron Eckhart), who is a 20-year veteran that is harboring the emotions of a loss of his squad in Iraq and is retiring.  Meanwhile, members of the 2nd Battalion 5th Marines are living their daily routine.

But on that day, news reports of meteorites hitting various areas of the planet are being shown on television.

Because of this, the military are being gathered and are asked to evacuate civilians who are trying to escape the coastline from a possible tsunami generated from the meteor.  Nantz’ retirement is postponed and he is asked to replace a platoon sergeant from “E” Company, 2nd Battalion 5th Marines.  But Nantz arrival is not good news as one of the marines had a brother who died under Nantz command in Iraq and because Nantz was the only one who lived, the others think that perhaps Nantz deserted his platoon.

Upon arriving, Nantz is told that he would report under 2nd Lt. William Martinez (played by Ramon Rodriguez), who is fresh from The Basic School and the platoon would be attending a briefing at Santa Monica Airport which has now been converted to a Forward Operating Base.

Quickly, the soldiers learn that the meteors that have landed are not meteors but are aliens who are now threatening to colonize the planet and are after the water in the planet.

While many soldiers are sent to fight against the invading aliens, Martinez’ platoon are sent to rescue civilians inside an LAPD station and get them out before the USAF commences saturation bombing of Santa Monica.

As the platoon advance towards the LAPD station, they are ambushed by the aliens and a few soldiers are killed or injured.   Nantz realizes that Martinez may not be ready to lead but the best he can do is to get Martinez thinking straight in order to issue out orders.

While advancing to the LAPD station, they team up with surviving members of the U.S  Army National Guard (40th Infantry Division) and Air Force Intelligence Technical Sergeant Elena Santos (played by Michelle Rodriguez) and together they advance to the LAPD station to help rescue the civilians.

Can the platoon rescue these civilians and escape before the bombardment of Santa Monica?  And with the alien ambush, will they survive?

VIDEO:

“Battle: Los Angeles” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1).  Director Jonathan Liebesman wanted the film to have a documentary-style and did not want to use the best digital cameras as he wanted a certain look for his film.  Cinematographer Lukas Ettlin made sure to deliver with the handheld camera and its shakiness.  And yes Liebesman wants to make people feel that and possibly even feel dizzy with motion sickness but for those who are able to keep up, the film is not like that throughout.

Also, the film tries to capture a feel that you are in a destroyed area of Los Angeles where smoke and destruction litter the area.  Vibrancy can be seen in the colors of explosions but the overall colors are muted, smoky and a bit drab.  That was the intent and for me, it worked.  There is plenty of detail as you can see the grime and scarring on the faces of the soldiers, wounds, rocky debris, you name it…detail is a high point with this film.  Black levels are nice and deep and I detected no blemishes, artifacting, edge enhancement.  This is a pretty solid PQ for “Battle: Los Angeles”.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

And this is where “Battle: Los Angeles” shines!  This has got to be one of the best lossless soundtracks I have heard all year and possibly one of the best in capturing the action and destruction of war.  This is a film that showcases immersive sound, your soundscape is filled with guns shooting, lasers blastic, mecha devices bursting, blowing up things, grenades exploding, explosions and gun fire galore, this is what you expect from a war film and the way the surround channels are utilized, you can’t help but feel excited of what was accomplished by the sound editors because this movie sound awesome!

There is no doubt that audiophiles are going to love the lossless soundtrack to “Battle: Los Angeles”, it’s one of the most immersive soundtracks I have heard and this is not just a few scenes, there are plenty of scenes with artillery fire, explosions, ambiance and more.  May it be up-close or from the distance, “Battle: Los Angeles” as of right now, is on top of our list for best AQ for a film in 2011.

Subtitles for “Battle: Los Angeles” is in English SDH, French, Portuguese and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Battle: Los Angeles” comes with the following special features:

  • Command Control – While watching “Battle: Los Angeles”, you can watch this film with behind-the-scenes footage, interviews with the cast and crew, the making of the film and more.   Note: Fortunately, for the featurettes titles Battle Points, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has allowed for these special features to be watched separately.  Mini featurettes in HD include: (22:23) Staff Sergeant Nantz, Marine Behind the Scenes, Aliens Ambush the Marines, Battling Unknown Forces, Technical Sergeant Santos, Alien Autopsy, Gas Station Explosion, Visual FX on the Freeway, Do You Believe in Aliens? and Alien Command & Control.
  • Behind the Battle – (6:44) The cast and crew talk about the movie and how the film would focus on Jonathan Liebesman’s vision to shoot in documentary style.
  • Aliens in L.A. – (4:39) Presented in HD, in this featurette, we get to see the making of the aliens and their design.
  • Preparing for Battle – (5:15) Presented in HD, learn how the talent prepared for their role.
  • Boot Camp – (5:15) This featurette in HD show us how the talent had to undergo three weeks of military boot camp training to prepare for the film.
  • Creating L.A. in L.A. – (5:45) While “Battle: Los Angeles” was filmed in Louisiana, this featurette which was presented in HD, shows us how the filmmakers captured the look and feel of Los Angeles.
  • Directing the Battle – (6:33) A featurette presented in HD of how Director Jonathan Liebesman’s presentations won him the job to direct “Battle: Los Angeles”.
  • The Freeway Battle – (5:18) The cast and crew of “Battle: Los Angeles” give us a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the freeway battle scene.

EXTRAS:

“Battle: Los Angeles – Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack” comes with a Blu-ray slip cover case and also a DVD version of the film.  Also, a PS3 theme is included as well.

“Battle: Los Angeles” is your straight-up popcorn action film but in my opinion, it was the better one.  Forget about any deep storyline, the goal of this movie was not trying to accomplish anything deep like Oliver Stone’s “Platoon”, Stanley Kubrik’s “Fullmetal Jacket” or Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan”.  Nor was it trying to be artistic or dark like Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now”.

This film is like a mashup of “Black Hawk Down” and “War of the Worlds” with a little “Independence Day” smacked in there.  Pretty much a war film about a platoon that has to save civilians but literally on a suicide mission where aliens are just awaiting for them to slaughter.

You know already that a lot of these men are not going to survive, even before the film starts.  You know that in this day and age, you’re going to have a lot of special effects and on Blu-ray, you’re going to expect an action film such as “Battle: Los Angeles” to deliver when it comes to picture and audio quality.

And for the most part, this film is literally about soldiers just trying to stay alive.  There is no defining conclusion (which can lead to a possible sequel since this film made so much money) and the storyline is quite simple, soldiers must save civilians and all have to get away as far as they can from the blast radius before the Air Force drops annihilates Santa Monica.

Of course, there is much more to this story but it’s the constant action that keeps you on your seat, it’s an adrenaline-pumping sci-fi film.  Fortunately, the one actor that definitely keeps the film going along is Aaron Eckhart as Ssgt. Michael Nantz, a soldier that literally wants to get out of the military because his conscious of losing his own platoon and being the only man alive has haunted him.  He knows that others think low of him for being the only man that survived and thinking that he let his crew die and thus, no one feels good around him.

As a viewer, you expect some John Wayne bravado on his part but granted, this character is not the talkative type.  He’s a man of action and he goes by the mission and accomplishing those goals.

The film also stars other talent such as Ne-Yo, Bridget Moynahan and Michelle Rodriguez.  Rodriguez, you sort of expect her in this kind of role as she has played in “Avatar”, “Lost” and “Resident Evil”, those roles of a no-nonsense woman that you know can kick some serious ass!  Bridget Moynahan wasn’t really explored, she is just a civilian, a vet who tries to watch over the children.  And as for Ne-Yo, like all the other soldiers, he’s there to play the part of a soldier, fight or die fighting.

Now, the weakness of “Battle: Los Angeles” is the fact that the storyline doesn’t strive to have a deep storyline, nor is there a conclusion.  If anything, it’s a straighout-action war film and there are those who will live and those who will die and you just keep going.  Director Jonathan Liebesman was inspired by marine films on YouTube, this is a film showcasing marines and their bravado of fighting and defending America, nothing more and nothing less.

For me, I was just happy that there were no scenes that made me bored.  Each scene, there was something happening and the action kept building and building and that was fine for me.  I accepted acting that was so-so, I accepted the fact that there were a lot of chaotic scenery.  I never expected anything deep and if anything, I took this film primarily as a action popcorn film and it’s what I was expecting and it’s what I got.

And for me, probably which enhanced my viewing of this Blu-ray release was how awesome this film sounds!  Granted, there are many films that are bad with awesome AQ but in the case of “Battle: Los Angeles”, the sound was a big part of making you feel that you were part of the war, you were right there and you can hear all those gunshots, those explosions and everything else close up or in a distance through your center, front and surround channels, including the LFE from your subwoofer.

Also, there is a good number of special features on the Blu-ray that will show you how much the filmmakers wanted to capture the feeling of war by having its talent undergo boot camp.  Granted, I’m not a Marine but the fact that they consulted with the military to make the film’s soldiers seem authentic, that was pretty cool!

Overall, “Battle: Los Angeles” is your adrenaline pumping, popcorn action film.  If you are into those type of films, then you’ll love this Blu-ray release!  Otherwise, if you are looking for something deep and a storyline that is in-depth, then this movie is not going to excite you one bit.

As for the Blu-ray release, I will say that for the first half of 2011 so far, this has to be one of the best audio-driven films I have seen this year.  If you are an audiophile and have the setup to essentially enjoy immersive lossless soundtracks, then definitely check “Battle: Los Angeles” out on Blu-ray!

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