Sunday, June 12, 2011

Battle: Los Angeles - Blu-ray Review


Blu-ray/DVD Release Date: June, 14 2011

Battle: L.A. is not a fantastic or even great movie. It has many problems (mostly concerning the characterizations) but even after a third viewing I find that it accomplished what it set out to do. Which is to be as a realistic a take on the alien invasion movie formula that has ever been attempted before. The action is well done, the actors all embody what I consider to be your stereotypical grunt and the aliens themselves were fairly unique. I think a lot of people that didn't care for it upon their initial viewing might end up liking it a little better on a second viewing once they have come to grips with what the movie is as opposed to what they wanted it to be.

Review Vital Stats:
Format: Blu-ray
Player: Playstation 3 
Monitor: Samsung 40' LCD Series 5
Picture Quality: 1080p
Sound Quality: DTS HD - English

Excerpt from my original theatrical review:

This is a pulls-no-punches type of  movie, it comes at you with such a ferocious energy right from the get go and doesn't ever really let up until it is over. I have heard from different sources all over the Internets that this was going to be our alien war film...but done as realistic as possible (which even sounds silly as I write it). I had heard the names Black Hawk Down mixed with Independence Day passed around a lot which sounds amazing and horrible at the same time. The question then became whether or not they could dissect the good parts from ID4, the few there were anyway, and fuse that together with everything that made the Ridley Scott war epic as hard hitting and raw as it was to make the quintessential alien war epic. The answer to that isn't as easy as I would have liked it to be but I can say without a doubt that for me it hit every note that it shot for and gave me exactly what that trailer promised, a gut wrenching battle against an unknown enemy in the urban battle zone known as Los Angeles.

Read the full review here.


What's on the disc?

Before we get started, be forewarned that whoever put these features together did so with the thought that anyone that views them already saw the movie. They don't even try to keep anything having to do with the plot a secret, the feature "Behind the Battle" literally shows you every pivotal moment in the movie and its outcome in under seven minutes. That gripe aside though, the features presented here are decent and by the numbers. There is an over abundance of people saying things or describing events that apparently were not filmed or gathered for this disc which got frustrating the more something interesting was brought up that was never gone into detail about. While the features are fine, they do nothing to give you any real impression of what filming a movie like this was like and the lack of a commentary from a director that went far out of his way to get the gig and was clearly invested in this film is a real let down.


Command Control (22:23 min) HD - This is a series of small featurettes that can either be viewed during playback of the movie or on their own. While most of what is here is just rehashes from the other features there are some interesting things that are not mentioned anywhere else on the disc. Such as how Michelle Rodriguez's character was a last minute addition and was created due to her wanting to be a part of the film and we also get some very brief discussions on the alien tech that wasn't covered in the "Aliens in L.A." feature. Not a bad collection of information but if you watch it before or after the main features you will find a lot of overlap in the content.

Behind the Battle (6:44 min) HD - This is your everyday by the numbers behind the scenes documentary that was made more as a promotion for the film than an informative piece. Everybody expressing how unique the movie is and how great it is to be a part of it...blah blah blah.

Directing the Battle (6:33 min) HD - This could have been a really good feature except they decided to tell us everything instead of show us, let me explain. Apparently the director Jonathan Liebesman made an extraordinary push to get the gig. He made his own animatics, storyboards and concept drawings. Then after getting the job he put together something called a "Sizzle Reel" which was to help sell the movie and concept to the studio. But instead of showing any of this material (we get very small clips here and there) we get to watch people sit in chairs and talk about it instead. Disappointing.

Aliens in L.A. (17:57 min) HD - This goes into how the aliens were created and imagined by the director. With the film itself giving us little to no information on the aliens as well as very few good looks at them this is a very welcome insight into their design. It also goes a little into how they balanced the use of practical effects compared to green screen. The only problem I had with this feature is that it only focuses on the alien grunts, not their technology or vehicles which were a big part of the film.

Preparing for Battle (5:15 min) HD - Everyone discussing the physical aspects of the film (stunts, weapons). An emphasis is put on the fact that the actors did a lot of their own stunt work as well.

Boot Camp (10:18 min) HD - I swear, if I see one more feature for a war film about how the actors had to go through boot camp I will shoot myself. While the feature itself is fine I think it is a forgone conclusion that actors in a military film do this and every time I see it I see different actors doing the same stuff I saw in other boot camp features for other films. That being said though it was interesting to find out how much of a grumpy morning person Michelle Rodriguez is.

Creating L.A. in LA (5:46 min) HD - This one kind of blew me away, not the feature itself but finding out that the movie was filmed in Louisiana. I couldn't help but feel this feature kind of glossed over much of the work that went into re-creating L.A. in a different state though. This could have used a little more depth to it I think.

The Freeway Battle (5:18 min) HD - One of the major battles in the film is gone into a little more in depth but once again it is mostly all tell and very little show. There is a lot of talking about how rigorous the filming was for it but we don't really see too much other than some quick behind the scenes clips here and there.

Final Verdict:

While I found the film to be exactly what I was expecting that doesn't mean it is for everyone. If you the alien invasion genre and also some war epics from time to time I cannot imagine you disliking this film in the least. It certainly has it share of problems but nothing so terrible that detracts from all the things it gets right. As for the picture quality of this seemed perfectly fine most of the time but there were moments strewn throughout where I noticed some grain (mostly during scenes with a lot of smoke). Not sure if that was the desired effect but none the less it wasn't a crystal clear image from beginning to end. The audio fared a lot better gut the low level effects seemed to lack some punch on my system. The extras are the only things that are the real let down here. While filled with some good information they don't really dig in as deep as one would hope. Regardless though, if you are a fan of the film then I suggest picking it up as soon as you can but everyone else out there should probably rent it first.

Movie   -  B+
Video   -  B+
Audio   -  A-
Extras  -  C+




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