Alien invasion flick ticks all the boxes

Battle: Los Angeles explodes onto our screens this month. Never mind Jack Bauer trying to save L.A. from terrorists. In this film it’s Aliens that are the problem, and there is no negotiating with them.

Tuesday, 29th March 2011, 6:05 pm

Star of the show Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight) plays Sgt. Michael Nantz a recently retired marine who is asked to go back to the frontline to fight in a battle the likes of which the world has never seen.

Action packed from the off this dramatic 116 minute feature kept the audience on the edge of their seat from the first scenes.

The film’s PG certificate means that the gore factor is at a relative low, despite lots of shooting, death, explosions and violence.

Keeping the certificate low also enabled director Jonathan Liebesman, (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, 2006), to create tension and fear without having to order in a gallon of pigs’ blood.

And despite the really rather silly premise for the film, hundreds of aliens landing across the globe in a meteor shower and trying to extinguish mankind, movie makers still managed to keep it serious.

Although this is clearly a sci-fi thriller, the action, camera angles and script give the whole feature the distinctive feel of a war movie.

Happily script writers successfully avoided forcing audiences to wade through knee deep cheese as in earlier sci-fi films like Independents Day (1996) and more recently the War of the Worlds (2005) remake.

And while there is certainly the odd cheesy one liner, writers slipped them in without ruining what feels like quite a serious film.

Eckhart doesn’t bring a great deal of Hollywood weight to the screen but that doesn’t seem to matter.

Actress Michelle Rodriguez is also wheeled out in a supporting role as Sgt. Elena Santos.

She plays a woman in the RAF who alines herself with Nantz’s unit while under attack in downtown Los Angeles.

Rodriguez seems to be one of the only women in Hollywood who is apparently capable of playing a soldier, unless of course you count Demi Moore in G.I. Jane, which I don’t.

She was last seen on the big screen playing yet another hard-chick in the 2010 film Machete and does a good job here as one of the few women on screen in the whole film.

Make-up and special effects have also done a good job with the six foot tall, insect-like Aliens which move rapidly across the screen.

Likewise airborne ‘drones’, which look like a modern day version of the ships first shown in Star Wars, are also terrifying and destructive in equal measure.

Movie makers passed the test here where others have failed by managing to create sci-fi action that should appeal to movie fans, young and old, across the board.

This might not be a terribly new idea but the film is presented in a fresh and exciting way.

And while the storyline doesn’t produce anything terribly new or surprising the action sequences pull enough punches for it not to matter.

Hats off to movie makers who also managed to avoid any suggestions of schmaltzy romance or the unnecessary addition of a family pet being rescued. In fact, at one point a dog even gets blown up.

While this flick isn’t one for the faint-hearted it’s a good old fashioned blockbuster movie and I’d have quite happily stayed in the cinema another 40 minutes for some more fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants shoot ‘em up action.

by Debbie Lockett

Star rating HHHH