i’ve always doubted the rational that the mockbuster movies make money by confusing customers. i personally don’t know anyone, i hope, who would go to a video store and look for say, transformers or i am legend but instead took home transmorphers or i am omega on opening weekend. from my day job i know there are a lot of zombies out there who think they need to buy things because of what they hear but not necessarily not what they want or need(i got asked about fast five on dvd about a month ago), at the same time, i don’t think i could have handed them say, 200 mph or almighty thor and have them thinking that it’s the same ones in theatres that everyone’s talking about. with the supposed death of physical media, the mockbuster confusion theory is even less credible. if these people think they can watch first run/big budget/still in theatres movies on dvd, or on netflix at home, well, they are not reading this site anyway. so feel free to point and laugh and curse at their stupidity. they deserve the asylum.
*pause for pointing and laughing and cursing*
that being said, the asylum’s battle of los angeles may be the closest to the blockbuster that it’s mocking than anything they’ve done. their earlier mockbusters have at least a few letters of difference. this time, it’s battle OF los angeles vs. battle: los angeles. still, no functional adult human beings with average intelligence should confuse the two since battle OF los angeles, like most asylum films, premiered on syfy on a saturday, a day after battle: los angeles opened. dvd the following tuesday, and netflix instant a month later. one has giant above the line credit of kel “kenan & kel/good burger” mitchell and nia “fame/walker texas ranger/half past dead” peeples, the other has harvey dent. oh and i guess there is a somewhat budget difference.
somewhat inspired by a real 1942 event, the asylum actually got the better title this time. peeples and mitchell replaced the other 80s/90s b-listers: your tiffany, your debbie “deborah” gibson, your c. thomas howell, your urkel, or your richard grieco.
battle OF los angeles opens promisingly with a pretty exciting credit sequence with an epic score set to a starry dark blue background. but then we see a giant spaceship hovers over what is supposedly los angeles, with a lot of pixely shit blown up not very good. kind of a homemade independence day/district 9. a lot of buildings and windows break during these scenes. but i don’t know what the big deal is since this los angeles is mostly empty. no cars, traffic, crowds, smog, riots, gangs, drive-bys. sure, there’s a giant spaceship but i gotta say, it seems like a good day. actually, it reminds me more of that scenario in simcity where you can have different disasters to destroy your city to see how well you built your city. those are pretty good games.
there are a few military jet fighters trying to shoot the giant spaceship down, but this part is kind of confusing since i don’t know what they are trying to do and the hit and miss rate, on both human and alien side, seems to be random. i know nothing of military technology but the jets they are in don’t seem to help much since the radar thing doesn’t tell them anything until they are right in front of them. and the alert sound sounds like they just got a text message.
next we cut to a supposedly military base which looks more like a summer camp. it’s kind of endearing that there’s never more than ten people in any given scenes in the movie. but the aliens attack them anyway. one of the highlights here is the old platoon leader. though the movie never specifically states what year it is, this guy is carrying what looks to me the same gun dirty harry uses. he later uses this gun to shoot down some of the alien flying saucers, the same ones that the jet fighters had problems with earlier in the movie.
the michelle rodriguez part is played here by someone asian, though she sneers and acts hardass about as well as rodriguez. there’s also a pretty funny grenade scene that is similar to all those ambush scenes in those 90s jerry bruckheimer movies.
and before i forget, they also throw in a captain from 1942 who may know something about what’s going on. they also named this 1942 captain rodgers. captain rodgers is repeated numerous times in the movie. they say his name so many times that i wonder if the asylum trying to mashup battle: los angeles with captain america. i mean, since they were doing almighty thor already, maybe they scrapped the idea of doing, let’s say, commander u.s.a., and put him in this movie.
so that’s the first half of the movie. like a lot of the asylum or direct-to-video movies, it has way too much yet at the same time undeveloped plot. the first half of the movie is pretty much people shooting at aliens and aliens shooting at people, with random results. a lot of things are introduced but then abandoned and forgotten.
fortunately the filler scenes are kind of done by this point. while the team is escorting captain rodgers to another miliary base, underground this time, nia peeples shows up as a sword wielding alien expert. it’s actually a high point in the movie, since she is able to destroy the alien ships with her sword, like she’s auditioning for kill bill (she eventually even gets an eye patch). i thought maybe the movie will turn into a sword fight movie.
she also gets a decent slow-mo in front of explosion scene that’s about as good as say, antonio banderas slow-mo in front of an explosion.
kel mitchell, after seeing the sword wielding nia peeples, said “i’ve got to get me one of those,” which i’m pretty sure is stolen directly from will smith. i’m not sure what he’s referring to since if he has a sword, i doubt he’ll be able to use it as well as nia peeples here. he could also be referring to nia peeples, which makes in all kinds of wrong. or maybe he’s referring to both nia peeples and the sword, but then that would be an area that i’m not that interested in exploring.
the movie finally gets going once they get to the underground base. there are a few twists that’s more than what i had expected from an asylum movie, they wouldn’t seem too out of place in species v. there’s also a floating ball thing that reminds me of that thing in star wars and shades of aliens and terminator 2.
but then it’s back to the independence day ripoff, where the supposedly good alien(at least that’s what i think the movie is getting at, again, undeveloped) ask kel mitchell to fly his alien ship to crash into the bad alien mothership. i had to rewind it twice but i love the fact that the main squid-like alien actually uses one of its tentacles to hold a mechanical device to show our hero that he’s going to crush them like he’s a james bond villain. i also have to give points to battle OF los angeles for having an african-american male, an asian-american woman, and nia peeples as the protagonists during the second half of the movie. i haven’t seen too many hollywood big budget blockbusters doing that. they also seem more ambitious in special effects and being action packed, the end result is not as laughable as the asylum’s usual outputs.
with its repetitiousness, bland characters, underdeveloped/illogical plots, and standard dialogues, it’s just about what one would expect from an asylum movie. but then i could say the same thing about stealth, indy 4, the last airbender, or g.i. joe. consider the reviews the actual battle: los angeles (or skyline for that matter) is getting, battle OF los angeles is another step closer to a real movie the asylum is getting. when it comes to asylum movies, you have to grade it on a curve. the asylum is that special needs child whom you reward and encourage with each accomplishment, regardless of its scale. either the asylum is getting better, or the real thing is getting worse. more importantly, of all the asylum movies that i’ve watched by myself instead of a group setting, battle OF los angeles only took me two viewings to finish.
i was going to write about both los angeles battles in one review but then i realized the studio version is 117 minutes. advantage asylum.