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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Battle: Los Angeles

Joseph McAleer
Source: Catholic News Service

A Marine platoon faces off against an alien invasion in a scene from "Battle: Los Angeles."
There's a delicious irony in a major Hollywood studio making a film that effectively lays waste its host city. But that's what happens in the aptly titled "Battle: Los Angeles" (Columbia) in which seemingly no neighborhood of the City of Angels escapes destruction, either from invading aliens or our own military might.

"One thing is clear: The world is at war," intones a radio announcer as the film opens. And how: Chaos has encircled the globe. Though originally thought to be benign, meteorites falling off the coast of every country actually contain an alien army, mounting an invasion of the planet.

We're never told why the aliens are here, nor do we really get a good look at them. But their presence provides an excuse for endless violence and carnage, not to mention a great deal of noise.

We're also never told why Los Angeles is the last hope for humanity, the only city able to mount a counterattack. "We cannot lose L.A.!" barks a general. So it's time to call in the Marines, led by Sgt. Michael Nantz (Aaron Eckhart).

A decorated combat veteran, Nantz is also fighting his own demons. Haunted by soldiers who died under his watch in the past, the present crisis offers him a chance for redemption, as well as the opportunity to expend a whole lot of ammunition.

As Nantz leads a platoon into the heart of the battle—there goes Santa Monica!—we learn a bit about the back stories of the other Marines. All the stock characters are present: the newly-married father-to-be; the rookie who longs to lose his virginity (he doesn't); the daredevil.

Michelle Rodriguez, memorable as a sassy fighter pilot in "Avatar," plays sassy Air Force pilot Elena Santos, who exclaims, memorably, "Kill anything that isn't human!"

Of course our brave soldiers stumble upon civilian survivors, including three adorable moppets, a turn of events that allows for a ratcheting up of emotion.

Directed by Jonathan Liebesman ("The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning"), "Battle: Los Angeles" is a pastiche, borrowing heavily in visual style and plot from several sci-fi films, including "War of the Worlds," "District 9," and, of course, "Independence Day." The story is neither unique nor compelling; it's just one tedious slog along what was formerly the beautiful California coast.

By the end of this film, viewers may share the sentiment of the platoon medic, who exclaims, "I'd rather be in Afghanistan!"

The film contains relentless action violence, gory images of carnage, at least one use of the F-word and some crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

Joseph McAleer is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.

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Fidelis of Sigmaringen: If a poor man needed some clothing, Fidelis would often give the man the clothes right off his back. Complete generosity to others characterized this saint's life. 
<p>Born in 1577, Mark Rey (Fidelis was his religious name) became a lawyer who constantly upheld the causes of the poor and oppressed people. Nicknamed "the poor man's lawyer," Fidelis soon grew disgusted with the corruption and injustice he saw among his colleagues. He left his law career to become a priest, joining his brother George as a member of the Capuchin Order. His wealth was divided between needy seminarians and the poor. </p><p>As a follower of Francis, Fidelis continued his devotion to the weak and needy. During a severe epidemic in a city where he was guardian of a friary, Fidelis cared for and cured many sick soldiers. </p><p>He was appointed head of a group of Capuchins sent to preach against the Calvinists and Zwinglians in Switzerland. Almost certain violence threatened. Those who observed the mission felt that success was more attributable to the prayer of Fidelis during the night than to his sermons and instructions. </p><p>He was accused of opposing the peasants' national aspirations for independence from Austria. While he was preaching at Seewis, to which he had gone against the advice of his friends, a gun was fired at him, but he escaped unharmed. A Protestant offered to shelter Fidelis, but he declined, saying his life was in God's hands. On the road back, he was set upon by a group of armed men and killed. </p><p>He was canonized in 1746. Fifteen years later, the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, which was established in 1622, recognized him as its first martyr.</p> American Catholic Blog Obedience means total surrender and wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor. All the difficulties that come in our work are the result of disobedience.

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