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Battle: Los Angeles review

The enemy might have changed but the clichés remain the same in Battle: Los Angeles , an Independence Day/Starship Troopers/Cloverfield mash-up that shoots this year's alien invasion from the PoV of the poor grunts on the front line.

Locked and loaded from the off with explosions, fire-fights and close quarters combat, Jonathan Liebesman's film has a full clip of eye-singeing, ear-battering mayhem that should sate sci-fi junkies after a quick visceral fix.

Yet it has a couple of dummy rounds as well: flatpack characters, stock dilemmas and dialogue so cornball you are only too happy to see it drowned out by heavy artillery.

Outgunned, outnumbered and outmanoeuvred by a vastly superior force of indestructible space reptiles, Staff Sergeant Nantz (Aaron Eckhart) and his unit of callow marines have enough on their plate without the reams of personal baggage Chris Bertolini's script sees fit to lumber them with.

Nantz, for one, is still smarting from a previous engagement that cost him a platoon, not to mention the indignity of being outranked by an officer 10 years his junior (Ramon Rodriguez).

His inexperienced team, meanwhile, includes one gun-shy rookie (Noel Fisher), one corporal with PTSD (Jim Parrack) and another (Cory Hardrict) who holds Eckhart responsible for his brother's death.

Suffice to say that it is not exactly a happy band that swoops into Santa Monica to defend the homeland against a hostile force with its larv-eyes on our precious H20. But if war's good for anything, it's for resolving pesky personal issues.

Rest assured, then, that by the time this day is out the kid will have grown a pair, the traumatised headcase will have his mojo back and Aaron will have delivered enough stirring speeches to redeem himself. Hell, it could almost be a recruitment video.

From the "Support Our Troops" banner adorning one burnt-out building to Eckhart's fist-pumping insistence that "marines don't quit!", it's clear Battle has no problem swigging the militarist Kool-Aid.

Mercifully, though, it never lets ideology interfere with the inter-galactic ass-kicking, Liebesman exhibiting a propensity for elaborate set-pieces featuring suburban ambushes, an elevated freeway and a police station under siege that bodes well for his mooted Clash Of The Titans sequel.

Ok, so the bad guys are a bit of a letdown when eventually revealed, resembling nothing so much as spindly cousins of District 9's prawns.

But at least they arrive packing some killer hardware, a flying saucer made up of detachable drones being a particularly destructive highlight.

In a cast of unknowns, Michelle Rodriguez stands out as a tech sergeant caught up in the carnage simply by virtue of having a familiar face.

Still, in films like this, it's not like it matters who's manning the bazookas.
 

Imagine Black Hawk Down with ETs instead of Somalis and you'll have the measure of an explosive if functional actioner that will do while we're waiting for summer's big guns to arrive.

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