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August 30, 2011
Battle Los Angeles Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
17/3/20118/7/2011Sony PicturesJonathan Liebesman
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1MA15+Aaron Eckhart

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Visual effects in Battle: LA are impressive.

Ever since I saw the first on-set footage and shots of this film I knew it was for me - action and sci-fi movies are my genres, and this combined both. As time went on and more trailers were released my enthusiasm grew. But I never saw the film at the cinemas, so I was more than happy to receive it on Blu-Ray for review...

Witness the end of civilisation 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.

It's clear Battle: Los Angeles is a mixture of several different movies. Indeed I would say it's one part District 9, two parts Black Hawk Down and three parts Independence Day. If you like those movies you'll probably enjoy this film as well. There are a tonne of action sequences, some nice tense moments, and the visual effects are pretty solid as well including plenty of burning buildings, explosions, aircraft and destruction. The set design too is brilliant with entire city streets looking completely destroyed.

Typically I hate shaky cam shots in movies, but it actually makes a lot of sense in Battle: Los Angeles and really places you within the battle. There are some scenes where you'll really think you're running down the streets with the marines. Still, there are some scenes during battles where the combination of shaky-cam and quick-cutting becomes too annoying and should have been dialed back a bit.

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Aaron Eckhart stars in the film.
The biggest failing of this movie though is the characters themselves. You never really get to know these characters are you did in a movie such as Aliens where Hicks, Hudson, Newt, Gorman and of course Ripley became household names. In this film you'll learn "staff sergeant", "lieutenant", "marine" and while the may be more accurate to how they talk in the Army, it takes away much of the personal nature of the film.

So it may not have the most memorable characters, or the most gripping dialogue, but Battle: Los Angeles is a very entertaining invasion movie which is almost non-stop during its 116 minute runtime.

Battle: Los Angeles is presented on Blu-Ray in the films original 2.40:1 aspect ratio and has been encoded using the now commonplace AVC MPEG-4 codec. The film uses a variety of techniques including degraded images during TV coverage, but more predominantly a lot of smoke and haze effects and an over abundance of shaky-cam shots. Fortunately a high bitrate, and some solid encoding work has ensured that this film looks a treat on Blu-Ray. The film was made for "only" $US70 million which in some films means cheap looking visual effects, but they are very solid in Battle: LA and look great on Blu-Ray.

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Looking at the invaders through the scope.
If there's one aspect of this release that the filmmakers and Sony Pictures have absolutely nailed it's the audio. This disc has been encoded with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (16-bit/48Khz) track and it's an absolutely cracker with frequent, aggressive, audio with explosions set to shake your room, bullets and missiles whizzing around the surround sound channels and, for the most part, great sound prioritization so the dialogue remains clear even during the heat of battle. There are so many moments in this film which could be used as reference quality it's not funny.

Other audio tracks on this Blu-Ray include an English Audio Descriptive Service which is encoded in Dolby Digital 5.1 at 640kbps, French and Spanish DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (both 16-bit/48Khz), and a Catalan Dolby Digital 5.1 track encoded at 448kbps. Subtitles are provided in English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Arabic and we sampled the English track which had some small amounts of shortening from the spoken dialogue - no doubt to give you time to read it all.

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Los Angeles is destroyed.
There is quite an extensive list of extras on the Battle: Los Angeles Blu-Ray, but unfortunately many of these are pretty short.

Command Control (22:23/HD): Available as either Picture-In-Picture during the film, or separately via the menu, this is a series of ten vignettes offering a little more detail into the characters, actors, or production.

Behind the Battle (6:44/HD): This featurette looks, rather shallow-ey, at the idea behind making an alien invasion war movie in a documentary style. Some behind the scenes footage and interviews, but rather EPK-ish.

Directing The Battle (6:33/HD): Jonathan Liebesman was the director of this film and here he, and other cast and crew, talk about how he got the role, and what it was like filming Battle: Los Angeles.

Aliens in L.A. (17:57/HD): This is a fairly extensive look at the creation of the alien creatures for the movie, from the CG visual effects, to the on-set practical alien body. There's also a look at acting on-set to react to the aliens being added in via CG in post-production.

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Battle: Los Angeles is on Blu-Ray now.
Preparing for Battle (5:15/HD): This featurette looks at the physicality required to film on this set with a brief look at some of the stunt work in the film.

Boot Camp (10:18/HD): This is a decent look at the 5-day boot camp which all the actors had to go through prior to filming including physical and weapons training. I must say it's so cool to see Michelle Rodriguez complain that shooting blanks in boot camp isn't as fun as firing real bullets.

Creating L.A. in LA (5:46/HD): This featurette looks at filming a movie based in Los Angeles in Louisiana with recreated locations.

The Freeway Battle (5:18/HD): Some on-set footage showing the filming of the freeway sequence in the film. Nothing too detailed, but some nice on-set footage.

Trailers (5:50/HD): Trailers for Blu-Ray is High Definition Promo (1:20), The Green Hornet (2:11) and Inside Job (2:19).

Resistance 3 Demo: For many the chance to play the Resistance 3 demo is worth this disc alone, and we have to say this is a brilliant look at what we'll be playing in a few weeks’ time. Visually impressive - no, make that stunning - this may not be the most action packed sequence from the game, but it gives an indication of just how brilliant this game will likely be.

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Technically this Blu-Ray is impressive.
PS3 Theme (HD): Essentially just a background image for the XMB.

MovieIQ (HD): MovieIQ is available on this Blu-Ray and provides up to date details on actors and music in each of the scenes. We're still not completely sold on this item on Blu-Ray discs - especially as it requires a download from the Internet - but some may find it useful.

While Battle: Los Angeles didn't light up the box office at the cinemas this is still quite a solid movie worth a look if you enjoy similar action/alien films, or indeed the Resistance video games on PS3. The transfer is superb, and there is a fairly decent swag of extras on the disc as well.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyright© Sony Pictures. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.