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Live Blogfest #2: Battle of Los Angeles

Welcome, my fellow faithfully-committed, to the second ever Committed Live Blogfest. Six weeks ago or so I can to you for the first time live in celebration of The Asylum Megafest surrounding the Mega Python vs Gatoroid premiere. This time, there's only one movie on the bill, but it promises to have enough explosive awesomosity to trump a big-screen blow-up. Of course, I'm talking about the one, the only...

Battle of Los Angeles

This one comes to us from writer/director Mark Atkins (Princess of Mars, Haunting of Winchester House) and stars cult favorites Kel Mitchell and Nia Peeples, and is based on a true event - also referred to as The Great Los Angeles Air Raid - that went down in the transition between February 24th and 25th back in 1942. Seems unidentified aircraft, originally thought to be Japanese but this was quickly disproved, started appearing all thoughout the skies over L.A. County, prompting a trigger-happy response from forces on the ground, who put the city under blackout and fired more than 1400 rounds of artillery into the heavens. No craft were reported to have been brought down, but six civilians were killed, three by collateral damage, three by heart attack. At the time, the attacks were dismissed, being called a case of "war nerves." To be fair, the US had been in WWII for a little more than 2 months when this happened, but 1400 rounds is a hell of a lot to fire off in a moment of panic. In 1983 the Office of Air Force History reported that, "A careful study of the evidence suggests that meteorological balloons—known to have been released over Los Angeles —may well have caused the initial alarm." But again, this is coming from essentially the same source that called it "war nerves" forty years before, so, to me at least, the song remains the same.

So tonight's film, then, as does the Hollywood version, released to a $13.5 million Friday, deals with this battle as having been an actual alien invading force who has now returned to finish what they started. Awesome.

*****Before we get started tonight, I want to send you guys over to a short video teaser I was made aware of by BoLA director Mark Atkins, who emailed a few hours ago with this little gem he created back in 2008 - yes, three years ago - for a project based on exactly the same event as are both tonight's film and the Hollywood tie-in. This is phenomenal insight into what is now revealed to be a project that has held lingering interest for Atkins, and, as I'm sure you'll agree after you've seen it, only makes me more excited for the premiere, knowing that this is a film that's been marinating for a while in its creator's head.*****

UPDATE 8:37 PM -  As for me, I'm gonna be kicking it low-key tonight, watching the film and providing insight and background info (I'll just update this single post each time, so scroll down for the latest), contributing some live observation notes (spoiler-free), and enjoying some BoLA-inspired tasties, including the main event I'm putting the finishing touches on right now, some Good Burgers

What we did - "we" being the Mrs. and I - is balled up some ground beef with shredded bacon and blue cheese crumbles so that the goodness is not relegated to topping the meat, but rather can be enjoyed mingling with its juices in every single bite. You have my word as a ruthless and stubborn carnivore that they are worth killing for. I'll let you see 'em soon as they're done. For now, a vodka tonic, I think, to loosen the tongue.

UPDATE 8:50: T-minus ten til and the burgers are on, Total Recall is winding up and I'm relaxing with a vodka and tonic, all atwitter that the world premiere of the latest Asylum flick is only minutes away. I wonder what Kel Mitchell is doing right now?

UPDATE 9:00 - Here we go...

UPDATE 9:01  - Awesome opening space effects, really rich and colorful, among the best, if not the best, I've seen. 

UPDATE 9:02 - Opens modern day...interesting. I was expecting a flashback to '42. The FX, only minutes in, are incredibly lifelike. 

UPDATE 9:04 - The mothership! Independence Day-esque, yes, but what harbinger of alien invasion wouldn't be?  It's like the poster's come to life... 

UPDATE 9:06 - Are all the pilots women? Baller! 

UPDATE 9:07 - And the drones are deployed! Beautiful devastation! 

UPDATE 9:08 - Kel makes the scene!!! Jeez...dude could bench press me, probably one-handed. 

UPDATE 9:11 - A Cougar moment in the cockpit...not a MILF reference... 

UPDATE 9:13 - Awesome aerial footage, up close or at a distance. The FX really early-on in this one are winning me over. Kudos to the visual effects squadron! 

UPDATE 9:15 - Kel officially in contention with Paul Logan for the best run in The Asylum... 

UPDATE 9:18 - Hmmm...past does factor into this the form of the always enjoyable Dylan Vox...intriguing...great twist of original source material... 

UPDATE 9:20 - P.S. i cannot adequately describe the smell your house assumes when grilling these burgers. if i could bottle it, i'd sell it. just sayin'. 

UPDATE 9:22 - First commercial break - so it seems as though a combatant in the first Battle of Los Angeles will factor - via vortex - into this one. Brilliant stroke of script, The Manhattan Project meets Encino Man, if you will. This is raring up to be a helluva battle. If this is what we get in the first 20 minutes, action-wise, I can't wait for the climax! 

UPDATE 9:34 - Alien invadin'-action and burgers are on! 

Kel's playing a little less hardcore action stud than I expected, more of a hero-to-be, which I like, gives the character more, well, character...

UPDATE 9:42 - Furthermore, I was expecting more rhetoric, more politicians sitting around discussing the problem - not at all; this one so far is wall to wall action! 

UPDATE 9:44 - Enter (in full force) Theresa June Tao, already a bad ass... 

UPDATE 9:47 - "You wanna take a break? It's been a long day?"  Brilliant!! 


UPDATE 9:49 - Quick note to say up until now it's been the quality of the FX that have been impressing me. Now, however, their design is taking the spotlight. These are great ships, equally menacing and technologically impressive. Kudos again.

Commercial break, burgers are done, waiting a bit before...dessert. Just wait...

So far, this one's coming across as a taut, fast-paced action epic. Great story, impressive sequences and on par acting. Let's see what unfolds as we get into the meat of the film...

UPDATE 9:54 - Nia's samurai sword is an awesome touch of character. Also, the set design/location scouting/whatever on this one is pretty spectacular. 

UPDATE 10:05 - The direction here, to me at least, seems a lot like a wonderful hybrid between Black Hawk Down and Dune, that is to say, an extreme and constant battle situation in an alien desert (not literally, emotionally) rife with decay and corrosion. It's a war-fantasy-sci-fi epic, and so far all the elements are in place. Not too shabby for halfway through. My only complaint, if it could be called that, is that the breadth of story kind of eclipses breadth of character, which is fine, and indeed customary in a war pic where the battle is bigger than the solider, but my love of Kel wants to see a tab more dynamism. Perhaps to come...

UPDATE 10:11 - Gonna start being careful here, as the last hour tends to dissolve into spoilers. But right here, when they enter the door where the guy asks for Reese's Pieces, I got a feeling shit starts getting out of this world (sorry...but c'mon, give me one lame space reference, just one)

UPDATE 10:15 - Is it weird that I assume Nia Peeples has held a katana before? She's got the stance down. And again, without spoiling anything, as we get into the close-up FX, they hold their high ground. 

UPDATE 10:17 - Holy...(kinda literally) 

UPDATE 10:25 - As impossible as it seems, Nia Peeples is even more badass with an eyepatch. Which reminds me... 

UPDATE 10:27 - As the chaos unfurls onscreen, a delectable treat comes forth from the kitchen...that's right, I iced another rice krispie treat, this one of the Nia "Fruity" Peeples variety...

That's my alien-face, by the way.

UPDATE 10:30 - Half an hour to go, and I'm revved up for a spectacular, action-packed epic. Mark Atkins, as a skilled cinematographer, has done a great job of making this feel truly epic while attending to a very small pod of characters. Kel I still want to see more from but Nia Peeples has been awesome, more badass than I've ever seen her, and the bloody heart of the film. A great creation. 

UPDATE 10:36 - Not a spoiler to say that LAX gets what it deserves... 

UPDATE 11:00 - Whew. So, without giving anything away, this one started high-octane from the first scene and never let up; if anything, its action only mounted as the story went on. The triumvirate of heroes - Mitchell, Peeples and Tao - were a nice balance of heart, brawn and attitude. The FX were - forgive me - out of this world, especially in the last 20 minutes (dig the trash-compacter homage!), and Mark Atkins' script, let alone his direction, brought to life a rollicking, thrilling, pulse-pounding sci-fi flick. SyFy Saturday Nights and The Asylum do it again, as far as I'm concerned. A really, really spectacular ending. Team this one with War of The Wolds and Transmorphers 2 and you've got yourself an awesome night of oh-no-they-don't invasion-retalliation.

Check me out next week, when Monday I'll be posting an EXCLUSIVE interview with writer/director Mark Atkins, and then come Wednesday or so we should have the ratings for tonight's premiere (I'm predicting 2.2 million), as well as a bevy of reviews for your perusal pleasure. As always, thanks a million for popping by, and more importantly, tell everyone you know to add Battle of Los Angeles to their Netflix cues and Redbox...what?...wishlists? The DVD drops a week from this Tueday, on March 22nd. Again, thanks for dropping by, and sweet dreams...don't forget to Spring Forward!


  1. I agree with everything you blogged about.

  2. Just got done watching it. Very impressed with it. Diffinitly one of their best movies to date (Both production value-wise and enjoyment-wise). They wasted no time in starting the invasion and the action very rarely let-up for the entire run time. This will be a definite Blu-Ray buy for me when it comes out later this month/next month (Can't remember the exact date)

  3. Okay, couldn't watch this live with your blog because I'm on east coast time, but I've caught up now....

    It's not Nick Nolte but an incredibly lifelike simulation!

    Another cowardly jet pilot?! What the hell does the Asylum have against our troops? They had a cowardly jet pilot in MSvGO and a cowardly helmsman and I think a cowardly jet pilot in Mega Piranha. Support our troops, the Asylum!

    F4U Corsair?! My favorite!

    What an entrance for Nia! I wouldn't have thought the sword would work, but it does. There's quite a bit of the Baroness and Black Widow in the character, but damn cool.

    Agreed about the characters. Their introductions were really promising, but we're not seeing them grow or be revealed. They feel like chess pieces. I think the major problem is that Nia has all the information, all the authority, and all the skills, so Tyler and Sorano become appendages.

    Alien invasion, Captured alien and spaceship, flying captured spaceship into mothership to attack... Come on, that's just Independence Day.

    Phew! The original stuff is awesome, so why all the shades of Independence Day, Terminator 2, and Aliens? And a smidgen of Temple of Doom?