Battle Los Angeles vs Skyline

Both are alien invasion films based in American cities with a young and relatively unknown cast. Both are centred on one place with glimpses of cities around the world and both are also extremely disappointing.

Battle Los Angeles stars Aaron Eckhart (Two-Face in The Dark Knight) and Michelle Rodriguez (Lost, Avatar) as its big name actors, with the rest of the cast filled out with characters who are quickly forgotten and possess no remarkable traits. Really, they should’ve cut the cast in half to retain a sharper focus. Most of the characters add nothing but bland dialogue, and yes, if you’ve read any reviews of this film, you’ll know that describing the dialogue as bland is being kind. It really is laughable at points with the kind of jingoistic action man talk we’ve heard of in many bad films from the early works of Van Damme or Seagal.

It wants to be an American version of District 9, but has none of that film’s charm, and it offers no surprises. It starts well, with the Staff Sergeant played by Eckhart running on the beach as he’s soon passed by a group of much younger men. Facing his retirement and discussing life and purpose with an old friend is a good way to start a film that focuses on humanity overwhelmed by alien invaders. However, that potential is gone within 10 minutes and then the shaky camera work, rather unthrilling action and lack of characterisation begins. The aliens look interesting with their bio-mechanical features and like Skyline, we know nothing about them, other than that they’re probably after our water.

Skyline is a lot more derivative. War of the Worlds, Aliens, Independence Day seems like obvious inspirations in key scenes and like Battle Los Angeles, it has aliens that don’t speak and whose origins remain mysterious. They do seem to like stealing brains though, which is almost laughable in a 1950s sci-fi film manner. Skyline has a more streamlined cast and although it’s generally all set in one huge, fancy apartment building it remains visually impressive, though the CGI creatures and vehicles are more realistic in L.A’s movie, though the designs are better in Skyline, as is the interplay between the characters, though it offers no real surprises.

Both films champion spectacle over plot and unfortunately both have done well as they are ‘turn your brain off’ movies. To see sci-fi with plot and interesting characters, see District 9 or Moon.





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