Battle: Los Angeles appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Literally no problems emerged in this killer transfer.
Sharpness excelled. The film’s documentary-style cinematography meant that the occasional soft shot occurred, but that was due to “on the fly” focus. The appropriately composed elements – which comprised the vast majority of the flick – provided concise, distinctive images. I noticed no shimmering or jaggies, and edge haloes failed to appear. Print flaws also weren’t a factor in this clean presentation.
Much of the film opted for a khaki palette that matched the Marine uniforms. Interiors tended toward a blue tint, while the night scenes that dominated the last act veered toward blue-green. These stylistic choices limited the color range, but I thought the hues looked solid given those choices. Blacks were deep and dense, and shadows showed clear definition; low-light and nighttime shots offered excellent visuals. I felt really impressed with this terrific transfer.
Similar praise greeted the intense DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Battle. I’d expect non-stop action from a war movie about an alien invasion, and that was what I got here. From start to finish, the movie used all five channels as nearly constant partners. Music filled the whole spectrum in a satisfying way, and effects demonstrated tremendous breadth.
Battle certainly gave the audio plenty of opportunities to excel, and it delivered. We got plenty of gunfire, flying vehicles, explosions and similar elements, and all added pep to the film. The components showed fine localization and blending; everything came from the right spot and the pieces fit together in a smooth way.
Audio quality lived up to the standards of the soundfield. Music was bold and dynamic, and speech seemed concise and crisp. Effects demonstrated terrific range; highs were tight, and lows seemed deep and full. Bass response added a real kick and gave the movie great power. This is the kind of soundtrack you thought of when you dropped big bucks for your home theater; it’s true demo material.
When we shift to extras, we start with an interactive feature called Command Control. This lets you access components as you watch the movie. It displays storyboard comparisons on screen and also prompts you to view 10 different featurettes.
Happily, you don’t have to see those as you watch the movie; the Blu-ray also presents them on their own. Taken together, these “Battle Points” last a total of 22 minutes, 23 seconds and include comments from screenwriter Chris Bertolini, senior military advisor Sgt. Major Jim Dever, director Jonathan Liebesman, producers Ori Marmur and Neal Moritz, stunt coordinator Joey Box, VFX supervisor Everett Burrell, makeup department head/creature FX supervisor Joel Harlow, executive producer Jeffrey Chernov, and actors Aaron Eckhart, Ne-Yo, Lucas Till, Bridget Moynahan, Michael Pena, Cory Hardrict, Jim Parrack, Noel Fisher, Michelle Rodriguez, and Ramon Rodriguez. We learn about cast, characters and performances, training, stunts and action, various effects and creature design, and a few other production issues.
The “Battle Points” cast a reasonably wide net and add some good notes. Their brevity means they lack great detail, but they cover a nice range of topics and do so well. These give us some quick tidbits that offer decent info about the film.
If you watch the film with “Control” activated, it provides some storyboards in the lower right corner and some “facts” about alien invasions. We also get picture-in-picture segments in addition to the option to see the “Battle Points”. In these PiP clips, we hear from Burrell, Eckhart, Dever, Till, Bertolini, Liebesman, Hardrict, Ne-Yo, Fisher, Michelle Rodriguez, Parrack, Pena, Moritz, Chernov, Moynahan, Marmur, Box, and actors Neil Brown, Jr. and Will Rothhaar. The PiP pieces cover various effects, cast, characters and performances, and stunts.
Though the “Battle Points” are pretty good, the PiP aspects of “Control” fare much less well. They pop up infrequently and tend toward superficial tidbits. They tell us little and don’t show up often enough for us to want to sit through the movie to see them. I think you can safely skip the PiP elements and not miss anything.
Seven featurettes follow. We find Behind the Battle (6:43), Directing the Battle (6:33), Aliens In LA (17:57), Preparing for Battle (5:15), Boot Camp (10:18), Creating LA in LA (5:46) and The Freeway Battle (5:18). Across these, we hear from Liebesman, Eckhart, Moritz, Michelle Rodriguez, Till, Moynahan, Pena, Marmur, Bertolini, Ne-Yo, Chernov, Burrell, Harlow, Ramon Rodriguez, Box, Dever, Fisher, production designer Peter Wenham and military tech advisor Master Sgt. Tom Minder. These cover story/character topics, the film’s “documentary style”, how Liebesman got the job and his approach to the material, alien design and various effects, cast, training and performances, action and stunts, locations and set design.
With more than an hour of material here, I hoped the various featurettes would essentially add up to the equivalent of a good documentary. Alas, they don’t prove to be that effective. Oh, they give us some good notes; though more than a few repeat from elsewhere, they give us a decent take on the subject matter. They just tend to be somewhat fluffy and are never better than average.
The disc opens with ads for Priest, Das Boot and Insidious. These also appear under Previews along with clips for Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown, The Green Hornet and Beastly. No trailer for Battle shows up here.
Since I love action movies and sci-fi flicks, I had high hopes for Battle: Los Angeles. Unfortunately, the movie turns into a major disappointment, as its shaky photography and poor pacing make it a bit of a chore to watch. The Blu-ray delivers stellar image and audio as well as a decent set of supplements. The Blu-ray represents the movie really well but it can’t make a forgettable film fun.