I have recently noticed that I am much more critical of a movie I see in a theater than one I watch at home, where I seem to be a lot more willing to suspend disbelief in favor of enjoying the movie. With that in mind, I think I was a little bit self-conscious while watching Battle: Los Angeles Well, that or it really was is as uneven as I experienced it to be. My opinion of it changed about every fifteen minutes, as did my outlook on how the rest of it would turn out.
Battle: Los Angeles isn't full of bad things so much as things that don't necessarily fit. It offers nothing new, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it just strikes an odd balance. I was never sure if I should be thrilled by the situation of the film, or invested in its characters; it seems to want both, but doesn't pull of either very thoroughly. Though there are some good scenes, there is never any real wow moment, no big awesome explosions, and nothing really moving emotionally, partially because its approach to character development is simply showing a dramatic situation each is going through prior to the alien invasion. One is about to get married, another is the best man, one is about to have a baby, one is a twenty-year military veteran who puts in his resignation because he is haunted by an operation that went bad, another has a brother that died in that operation gone bad, and so on. We never really get a sense of who these people are, and these back stories are doled out so quickly that I forgot who was who.
The one thing that I didn't waver on at all was the thought that Battle: Los Angeles looks twice as good as a lot of movies that cost twice as much. It cost around $70 million, which is pretty modest considering that it is essentially a disaster film. But that also has its disadvantages, because in the end it comes off more like diet Independence Day, without the spectacle that made that movie what it was. There is no shot of the White House blowing up, or anything nearly as memorable. Hell, there isn't even a shot of the Hollywood sign blowing up. I wish I could say this movie was up and down, but it was really just all middle.