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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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Conrad of Parzham: Conrad spent most of his life as porter in Altoetting, Bavaria, letting people into the friary and indirectly encouraging them to let God into their lives. 
<p>His parents, Bartholomew and Gertrude Birndorfer, lived near Parzham, Bavaria. In those days this region was recovering from the Napoleonic wars. A lover of solitary prayer and a peacemaker as a young man, Conrad joined the Capuchins as a brother. He made his profession in 1852 and was assigned to the friary in Altoetting. That city’s shrine to Mary was very popular; at the nearby Capuchin friary there was a lot of work for the porter, a job Conrad held for 41 years. </p><p>At first some of the other friars were jealous that such a young friar held this important job. Conrad’s patience and holy life overcame their doubts. As porter he dealt with many people, obtaining many of the friary supplies and generously providing for the poor who came to the door. He treated them all with the courtesy Francis expected of his followers. </p><p>Conrad’s helpfulness was sometimes unnerving. Once Father Vincent, seeking quiet to prepare a sermon, went up the belltower of the church. Conrad tracked him down when someone wanting to go to confession specifically requested Father Vincent. </p><p>Conrad also developed a special rapport with the children of the area. He enthusiastically promoted the Seraphic Work of Charity, which aided neglected children. </p><p>Conrad spent hours in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. He regularly asked the Blessed Mother to intercede for him and for the many people he included in his prayers. The ever-patient Conrad was canonized in 1934.</p> American Catholic Blog The Resurrection is neither optimism nor idealism; it is truth. Atheism proclaims the tomb is full; Christians know it is empty.

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