Why Battle: Los Angeles could be the breakout hit of Comic-Con

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Dec 14, 2012, 4:31 PM EST

Every year you come to Comic-Con hoping that something will stand out from the pack. Last year it was, without a doubt, District 9, which came out of nowhere and created a huge buzz. This year? Well, it's early in the weekend yet, but the upcoming Battle: Los Angeles could be the contender.

What is Battle: Los Angeles? It's a movie starring Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez and a whole bunch of Marines who should be bad-ass but, in the footage shown today, look scared to death. Why? Because L.A. is under attack from a fleet of vicious aliens, who are using everything from low-flying ships to hand-to-hand combat to bring the city to its knees.

That's right, aliens. But this is not just another alien invasion movie. Director Jonathan Liebesmann said at the panel today that he wanted to make a war movie, and that's what he's done—except that the enemy is from outer space. And they are mean as hell.

Battle: Los Angeles has been under a veil of secrecy during production, so this was the first chance the public has had to see any footage. And it was impressive: after a sort of prologue in which we flash back to the real "Battle of Los Angeles" (a 1942 incident in which American forces fired into the skies over the city after mysterious objects, or possibly Japanese planes, were sighted), we flash forward to the present and the real battle begins.

The fast-moving footage opens with a company of Marines fighting for survival in a chopper that gets hit by alien fire. We then cut to squad leader Eckhart getting his orders to go into the city and rescue civilians trapped there. There are explosions, scenes of Marines getting shot in the head, missiles flying overheard and vast shots of Los Angeles shrouded in flames and smoke.

It's chilling stuff, and it only gets more intense from there, as Eckhart must shield children from a helicopter exploding overheard and more Marines get blown up. There's one extended sequence where a Marine holes up in a abandoned house, where he unfortunately meets the enemy face to face. The movie looks like it portrays death and warfare in an honest way ... even with aliens involved.

We see little of the actual aliens, but from a distance they look like kissing cousins to the invaders from Independence Day. In fact, Battle: Los Angeles, with its handheld, documentary style, looks like nothing less than a combination of Black Hawk Down and ID4 or perhaps War of the Worlds. If the movie plays the way we'd like it to play, based on this footage, it could be a really scary experience.

Eckhart says on the panel that he was convinced to do the movie when Liebesmann showed him footage of urban warfare in the streets of Fallujah, Iraq, and said "This is what I want this movie to look like."

Wow. Could Battle: Los Angeles be a breakout from this year's Comic-Con? We'll see if the buzz grows from here as the movie approaches its March 2011 arrival.