We’ve all been exposed to aliens and foreign invasions in the realm of popular culture. But rarely do we witness an apocalyptic fight between mankind and extraterrestrials from a first-person perspective, all set in the sprawling expanse of Los Angeles.
The upcoming film “Battle: Los Angeles” has been touted by its stars as a meaningful contribution to the library of alien invasion movies, thanks in large part to its cinematographic style.
The film is portrayed as being based loosely on the so-called “Battle of Los Angeles,” a 1942 UFO sighting that triggered military action and a temporary blackout of Los Angeles. The film’s official website, which displays a slideshow of “UFO sightings” in various cities over the course of the past century, contributes to the buzz surrounding influence from other species.
Aaron Eckhart (Rabbit Hole) stars in the film as Staff Sergeant Michael Nantz, the leader of a Marine unit that must deal with an alien invasion in the City of Angels. Eckhart explained in a conference call interview that the aliens themselves are portrayed in a unique way in this film.
“They have very human characteristics. In terms of their mentality and psychology they’re very human. … They’re unlike anything you’ve ever seen in a movie before,” he said.
To prepare for his role, Eckhart, along with other cast members, participated in boot camp to learn Marine tactics and strategies, including how to handle weapons and how to “take a room.”
What makes the film unique to Eckhart is the cinematography.
“It’s such a gritty, documentary-style filmmaking that you really feel you’re here in Santa Monica; you’re grounded and you could be fighting anybody. It could happen anywhere,” Eckhart said.
Co-star Michelle Rodriguez (Blacktino), who is seasoned in the genres of action and sci-fi, also lauded the film for the perspective it gives the audience.
“You’re like one of the characters just being an audience member because of the way the whole film is shot. It’s very in-your-face, first-man shooter. … The way the film is shot, it makes you feel like you’re in the experience,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez portrays Tech Sergeant Elena Santos, whose initial responsibility in the plot is to monitor atmospheric activity. Once the invasion begins, however, her role takes a different turn.
“[That's when] all hell breaks loose and the guns break out,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez alluded to the training necessary in preparing for the role but overall emphasized the thrill of firing real guns.
“The training was agonizing but fun. … It’s not everyday you get to play with so many toys,” Rodriguez said.
Eckhart praised Rodriguez for her approach to the film as well as her enthusiasm and do-it-all attitude.
“She was great. She really brought a lot of character to the piece. She has a very unique and interesting way of looking at characters. … She’s game for anything,” Eckhart said.
Of course, the film should provide a solid dose of simple entertainment and impressive special effects, but Eckhart explained that it doesn’t end there; this film offers something more.
“This movie is a war movie, really. It’s a war movie that happens to be fighting a foe from outer space. It’s really about a group of Marines who have to bond together to survive,” he said.
He further explained that the roles he and the other Marines portrayed represent the ideas of teamwork and brotherhood.
“You have to rely on each other [as members of a unit]. You have to trust each other. And you have to live and die with each other,” Eckhart said.
Whatever the real state of affairs may entail, an action movie centered on an alien invasion is sure to draw its fair share of attention. “Battle: Los Angeles” seeks to fulfill movie-goers’ craving for entertainment, for sure. But it seeks to do something different and much more difficult: leave a lasting impression on its audience, making it remember the film as a work distinct from the infinite mass of alien invasion movies.
“Battle: Los Angeles” hits Madison theaters March 11.