Monday, March 28, 2011

BATTLE OF LOS ANGELES

The latest SyFy/Asylum cash-in "mockbuster," BATTLE OF LOS ANGELES (2011), attempts to ride the coattails of the current theatrical release, BATTLE: LOS ANGELES (see what they did there?) on a tiny fraction of the budget. Now, as I have not seen the big-budget "inspiration," I'll have to judge the DTV movie directed by Asylum workhorse Mark Atkins (MERLIN & THE WAR OF THE DRAGONS, HAUNTING OF WINCHESTER HOUSE, PRINCESS OF MARS,etc.) on its own merits... or lack thereof.

The flick gets off to a fast start, with a giant, and decidedly hostile, U.F.O. appearing over the skyline of L.A. only moments after the opening credits. The Air Force responds immediately with jet interceptors and then, ICBMs, but the attacks are completely ineffective against the alien ship's defenses. The action quickly shifts to a small group of Air National Guardsmen stationed at a run-down base (although their jet fighters are brand-new - and CGI) just outside L.A., where a WWII-era fighter plane lands, discharging a pilot (Dylan Vox, MEGASHARK VS. CROCOSAURUS) who was abducted by the aliens in 1942. Several Guardsmen, led by Lt. Tyle Laughlin (Kel Mitchell, MYSTERY MEN), are ordered to escort the pilot to a secret government facility on the far side of the city. Eventually, a small group of humans carry the battle back to the alien mothership in a desperate last attempt to save mankind.

Or something like that.

As usual with Asylum movies, the script is utter nonsense, with dialogue and scenarios cribbed from other movies (in this case, most obviously, INDEPENDENCE DAY and Spielberg's WAR OF THE WORLDS). Nothing is explained - for example, there's mention of a  previous battle against the aliens in 1942, but its unclear if they're still fighting the same invasion or if the aliens went away for 68 years and have only just come back. A still-sexy Nia Peeples shows up midway through the film wearing a comic book-styled blue jumpsuit and wielding a samurai sword (!) - she's said to be military, but her archaic weapon is never even commented upon. And there's more - much more. Swiss cheese has less holes than this script.

But -- as usual, Atkins gives the HD videography a nice professional sheen, and makes the best he can of the piecemeal, recycled sets with effective lighting and clever editing. The action is relentless, and the 90-minute running time is filled with wall-to wall CGI flying saucers, running, gunfights, CGI monsters, and explosions - both practical and computer-generated. Overall, the effects are pretty decent for an Asylum quickie, and the actors are adequate, considering that their roles are almost entirely physical, consisting primarily of running around with machine guns. The score by Brian Ralston & Kays Alatrakchi isn't bad, either.

The DVD from The Asylum features the usual high quality 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, and both 5.1 and 2.0 audio mixes. There's a "behind-the-scenes" featurette and a blooper reel, as well as a selection of other Asylum trailers.

Ultimately, it's another Asylum-SyFy Channel "mockbuster," and most genre movie fans should know what that means. As such, it's actually fairly entertaining, as long as you don't think about it - and since the filmmakers didn't expend any thought on it, why should you? My advice? Just sit back, relax, and enjoy the explosions - and Nia Peeples in a tight jumpsuit swinging a katana.

BUYBattle of Los Angeles