Battle: Los Angeles (Sony, Blu-ray or standard DVD, PG-13, 116 min.). The filmmakers tried hard here. The idea was to present a documentary style combat film from a small group of soldiers’ perspective, with the enemies being out-of-space aliens. The aliens themselves are quite unusual and the film’s most successful part, but director Jonathan Liebesman too often goes for the in-too-close and too-short shot, leaving too much of the film chaotic. A helicopter crash and a fight on a freeway overpass are the best done sequences, but this is a film whose trailer gives away the key sequence.

Aaron Eckhart plays Marine Staff Sgt. Michael Nantz, who has decided to call it a career. Then the aliens attack coastal cities around the globe, disguising their approach as meteors (actually meteorites would be more accurate, but then this is a film that goes from night to instant daylight in one crucial scene). Nantz is hanging up his uniform because too many of his men died under his command, including the brother of one of the men he is now forced to do this one last mission with. Other than Nantz, none of the other characters are fleshed out at all, despite the early 10-plus-minute flashback to introduce them. Michelle Rodriguez’s Tech Sgt. Elena Santos literally falls out of the sky. Operating out of the Santa Monica Airport, the small group is ordered to get to a police station to rescue some civilians and then move outside of an area that is going to be bombed in three hours.

The Blu-ray version includes a command center that enables viewing of picture-in-picture, storyboard comparisons, battle points and other information while watching the film. There also are Blu-ray exclusive looks at directing the battle, boot camp and the freeway battle. Both versions also have looks at making the film (6:44), preparing the battle and recreating Los Angeles in Los Angeles, plus, my favorite, a 17:57 look at the creation of the aliens that gives you a much closer and detailed look (hit that pause button often). Grade: film 2.25 stars; extras 3 stars

Red Riding Hood (Warner, Blu-ray or standard DVD, PG-13, 100 min.). This film is stunning, as in stunningly bad. The Brothers Grimm’s “Little Red Riding Hood” tale is retold with a werewolf instead, but since this film is directed by Catherine Hardwick (the first “Twilight” film), Valerie (Amanda Seyfried), whose grandmother (Julie Christie) gives her a big red hood, is a contested price between two hunky young men. One is her childhood friend Peter (a solid Shiloh Fernandez), who really is her true love; the other is blacksmith Henry Lazar (Max Irons), whose family is wealthy.

Early in the film, it seems Peter has convinced Valerie to run off with him, but then the warning signal goes off and we learn Valerie’s older sister has been killed by the werewolf. This goes against the “agreement” with the werewolf, that the town leaves an animal sacrifice every full moon so all the townspeople are spared. The angered villagers storm off into the woods to kill the werewolf, even though night and the full moon is approaching. Naturally, there is a werewolf attack. The next day, along comes Father Solomon (a campy Gary Oldman), a legendary supernatural killer who arrives with an entourage that includes his two young daughters and a giant metal elephant (yes, you read that right). The cast also includes, among its many familiar faces, Michael Shanks as Henry’s dad, Lukas Haas as the local priest and Billy Burke and Virginia Madsen as Valerie’s parents.

The alternate cut is only about a minute longer and differs only near the end. It will more satisfy the romantically inclined. The theatrical version only can be watched with picture-in-picture commentary by the director and the three young stars (Irons discusses how he studied blacksmithing with Shanks, and tells Hardwicke she would not understand any of it). There also are two music videos, a gag reel, a look at the casting of Irons and Fernandez (including audition tapes) and three deleted scenes (4:18). The Blu-ray also comes with a standard DVD version and a digital copy. Grade: film 1.5 stars; extras 2.5 stars

Rating guide: 5 stars = classic; 4 stars = excellent; 3 stars = good; 2 stars = fair; dog = skip it

Additional reviews are available online at and include “Hall Pass” and the ultimate Blu-ray editions of “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” and “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.”