Idiot Savant Online

John Lichman's third attempt at a personal blog and online savanting idiotic.

The SyFy Channel Experiment 003: Battle of Los Angeles

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Battle: Los Angeles came out yesterday to critical pans and a few happy mentions. Tonight, the Asylum’s rather spirited venture into the mock-buster premieres on SyFy Channel. Its name?

Battle of Los Angeles.

Join me as I once again engage in improvement juice and horrible science fiction partnered with sad, sad visual effects.

9:00-As far as credit sequences go, having Kel from Kenan and Kel speaks wonders. Director Mark Aktins, btw, so far has at least four credits alongside director (writer, visual effects, editor, craft services…I assume.)

9:02– CGI fighter jets are looking for plot points. Suddenly, they find “Target Diameter” on their radars. It turns into the cover art for District 9. I’m not kidding.

9:03– Now it’s ripping of Independence Day. Oh no, there goes downtown Los Angeles in a technicolor rainbow of blue fire! Nooooooooooooo….

9:05-Wow. They straight up ripped off the “Eagle one, Fox two” line from ID:4…which I’m sure has ripped it off from every other air force sequence that a screenwriter copied off Tom Clancy. Oh, the entire time, they’re having an aerial dog fight over Los Angeles. But the alien mothership keeps locking onto their missiles–(“It takes three seconds for them to reprogram! We have enough time for a shot!”) and fire back at them. This is going pretty well for no one.

9:06-“The enemy is hostile. They’re reprogramming the missiles and firing them back at us!” “Get to a safe position and watch the show. This thing is going down.” No shit.

9:08-The alien fleet has just emerged. Los Angeles is now in fire. And they’ve replayed the same eight scenes for TEN MINUTES.

9:09-Meanwhile, at “An Unmarked Air Force Base, North of Los Angeles”…KEL APPEARS.

9:10– Oh, shit. Wait. This isn’t even the Air Force. It’s the “Air National Guard.” We are so fucked.

9:12-The grizzled veteran shit talked a rookie for a while. Then, when alien fighters appeared, he turned and began firing his revolver–“with the last six rounds I meant to give Hitler”–at them. (He is then blown up.)

9:14-After four minutes, the frightened rookie has taken off in his fighter jet. Now the once proud remote Air National Guard base that seems to have been built near a salt mine is recovering slowly. Lots of shots involving three folks standing around and firing their guns into the sky–an important auteurist note when considering any film made by The Asylum.

9:15-Now a World War II prop plane appears. Man removes his leather goggles and looks around. This takes up an entire minute. Cut away.

9:17-The World War II pilot is walking around through the smoke machine. What is his life represented by? Why is this Air National Guard base only comprised of Kel from Kenan and Kel and two other dudes?

9:18-The man is Captain Pete Rodgers, Fourth Interceptors squadron. “The battle of Los Angeles…yes! Hope you don’t have a fiance, son! You’ve been up in the air for 68 years. Your mission…WAS IN 1942.” This comes after Kel informs us a HAM radio can still work after an EMP.

9:20-Now they are in a frantic search for the last HAM radio operator in Los Angeles–Charlie Murphy. Take from that what you will. This never comes back up, I bet. Also: “Space time conundrums may not be my expertise, but I don’t have to be a physics expert to know you’re the key to all this!”

COMMERCIAL RECAP SO FAR: Aliens came to Earth and decided, like most folks, “fuck los angeles let’s blow shit up.” So they launch the mothership from District 9 while a bunch of CGI-fighter jets from an intern’s old Playstation 2 game fly through the air. But our primitive missiles are nothing when it comes to alien shields and alien technology that can repulse missiles. Then we go to the Air National Guard base with Kel from Kenan and Kel. There are two other pilots–one, a hot-shot female pilot. The other, a scared guy. And for comic relief a grizzled CO. Aliens attack the base. And then a pilot from 1942, which was the ‘first’ “Battle of Los Angeles” appears in his prop plane. HAM radios can survive EMP blasts. Now we’re back.

9:26-The group with Captain Rodgers (heh, more like Captain SOUNDSSOBVIOUSAMIRITE) are headed to “Sector Seven.” Kel says, “I thought it was to the right?” His Captain: “We all know how well your sense of direction is.” What an obscure joke from that show.

9:27- Oh yeah, the aliens are now floating green orbs which can penetrate ships and they’re mind-fucking the scared pilot dude. This involves a bright light and…generic robot sounds.

9:29-“Arstead,” the scared pilot who is now being alien mind-raped, has his name screamed at over a dozen times by sassy female pilot. This accomplished as much as you’d assume. She also just took down an alien fighter jet by ejecting and comically sending the jet’s canopy into her chaser. “YEAH, YEAH DAS RIGHT. DAS HOW WE DO.” Yes. I do das too. With drinking.

9:32-The ground forces encounter a tank-like thing hidden behind a minivan. To test it, their Captain throws a rock. The machine, which looks like a poor-ass Dalek, does nothing. The Captain throws a grenade and the poor-ass Dalek knows enough to throw the grenade back–all of three feet–which causes the Dalek to return serve. It then takes out a minigun, shoots the Captain and completely vaporizes another grunt. For fun it continues to shoot the Captain. Whose fun? Definitely not ours.

9:35-So, the Captain has been shot now somewhere around 60 times. He’s giving a death speech now to Kel about responsibility and training. Kel looks genuinely upset that his Captain has been turned into hamburger. A good piece of hamburger. There–I can do that shit too, Asylum.

COMMERCIAL RECAP SO FAR: There are floating green orbs which overpower pilots and lead them off on magic side-plots. The alien fighter jets, meanwhile, cannot be pierced by bullets or missiles, but a stray canopy can blow their shit up. And Alien Death Tanks have a weakness: you must throw your grenade at it while being at least two feet away. And further–say, three feet–and it will pick up your grenade to toss back. The Alien DeathTank has learned well from Call of Duty.

9:42-A stunning shot of rubble followed by “COMING UP NEXT: MUTANT CHRONICLES.” There isn’t enough whiskey in the world.

9:43- “You two can stay here and fight this out, or you can act like SOLDIERS and finish this mission!” Kel: “So what’cha gonna do?” Dude That’s About To Fucking Die Pretty Pathetically: “Yo, I’m with you.”

9:45-Captain Rodgers has somehow lost his leather jacket and goggles. I guess the rental was up from the local costume shop for “Period Leather Jacket w/ nondescrpt logo.”

an aside: angry female pilot character’s name is Solano. She is played by the actress Theresa June Tao–who also was in an episode of Operation Repo, which I only learned a day or two ago that all the segments are pre-produced with actors. Kind of weird, right?

9:47-A ship made in Dreamweaver is hunting down the humans next to green screens behind rubble. The mind reels.

9:48-Kel is now holding off the alien scout ship when suddenly a chick with a katana appears, drops onto the ship and impales it. She then slow walks from the explosion. Fantastic.

9:49-“Yo, I GOT to get me one of those.”-Dude That’s About To Fucking Die Pretty Pathetically in response to a katana.

Commercial Recap So Far: Chick in a catsuit with a katana showed up, jumped down, stabbed an alien ship, walked away in slow motion and then an explosion happened. And I finished my first drink. I’m going slow it seems.

9:53-I was making a super pretzel but when I came back, the Katana Chick struck a pose while little orbs floated everywhere, leading me to assume she was about to slice some shit up. Instead, she struck another pose. Cut back to the orbs. Cut back to her posing. Repeat twice. Orbs fly away. END OF SCENE. This is some heavy handed shit, my friends.

9:56-Since we last left our friend comedic relief grizzled old veteran, he’s been shooting aimlessly at alien space craft with his revolver. He finally downed one. This has taken roughly 40 minutes of in-film time. Now he has an alien gun and…was just blown up by a kamikaze attack. Ok.

10:00-Having watched this for an hour, I can say I’ve learned one thing: HAM radios supposedly still work after an EMP and that “is a non-issue.” “Well, it is to the rest of the planet,” says Kel.

10:01– “You need to give up your weapons.” “Well, I’m a weapon, big boy. How ya gonna confiscate me?” NO ONE LOOKS AMUSED.

10:02-In protest, all remove their flak jackets. “These can be used as weapons.” No one seems really moved by these statements or mock protest when ALIENS ARE INVADING THE FUCKING PLANET EARTH AND THIS IS A SECRET GOVERNMENT GROUP NAMED FOR SOMETHING IN TRANSFORMERS.

10:04-Big dramatic swell in music. Turns out the Earth has been keeping one of the aliens as a prisoner. “Colonel, they want him back.” “Who? Who do they want back?” “The one you call…*THROAT NOISE CLICK CLICK SOUNDS LIKE ‘GUYWOOL’*” beat. “You can speak their language?” “A bit. I can.” But yet, this is what WE call the captive alien.

Commercial Recap So Far: I’m on my second drink and the plot has once again taken a turn for the “fuck it, let’s do something else, we have another half hour to fill.”

10:09– “Once [Rodgers] talks to it, he can never leave this facility.” Cut to the other members of the group eating sandwiches in a hallway.

10:10-Now at the door holding “it” captive, the Colonel informs us, “We used to make you sign a paper saying anything you see beyond this door, you can’t talk about. But now? With what’s going on above us? It doesn’t make a difference.” beat. “By the way, does anybody have any Reese’s Pieces? Damn thing loves them.” Minute later, a War of the Worlds remake reference with a three-fingered hand sliding down a glass.

10:13– “Just take your time, Captain.” Nods. AND THEN THE TWIST: CAPTAIN RODGERS IS AN ALIEN AS HE SCREAMS THE COLONEL DEAD! OH NOES. He then leaps into the containment cell with the other alien waits, and one by one folks walk up to the edge…then get pulled in. Like clockwork.

10:15-Then Captain Rodger’s is a robot whose head launches a probe which is tunneling through everything. You can assume this by the way it is held against a way and dust is thrown against the wall. That’s the magic of cinema.

10:18-For two minutes, the probe is in a Mexican stand-off between four people. Finally, the probe realizes, “wait. I’m a 3D component that these people can’t see. If they shoot, they hit the othe–” and then flies through Dude That‘s About To Fucking Dies Pretty Pathetically’s chest.

Commercial Recap So Far Oh I didn’t even bother. Captain Rodgers was an alien robot and some dude died.

10:24-Katana Chick now sports an eye patch because Captain Rodgers spit green water at her. This didn’t mean anything until after we came back from commercial. Now the captured alien that, I’m rather positive Capt-bot tried to kill, wants Kel to fly his crashed ship from 1942…and it just died.

10:26-Now those Alien Death Tanks are back and…I’m not sure what they’re doing. But I guess Kel is being driven to the other spaceship so he can go to space. Re: the APC they’re in, “How’s this thing running?” “Vacuum tubes!” Apparently vacuum tubes are like fucking magnets.

10:27-Kel has fired a dozen shots at a chasing alien ship using a silver spray-painted plastic gun, which have technically been the same two shots six times. And a green screen.

10:29-The other alien space craft? Central terminal at LAX. “It was JFK’s idea.” Of course it was.

Commercial Recap So Far: Dylan Vox plays Captain Rodgers. Check out some of his other roles–note “Bruce” in that Kardashian program!

10:35-Running! “Move, move, move! Go, go, go!” And then we’re back inside a nondescript shooting location.

10:37-I really wonder if this entire thing is going to end on Kel spouting a Will Smith one-liner. But regardless, they’re now in the lounge at LAX and it turns out the top of the bar IS an alien aircraft. Oh, that crafty JFK. What would he think of next?

10:38-The ship, apparently, requires BOTH eyes, hence One-Eyed Katana Chick must now rely on Kel to pilot this ship when he’s never piloted anything before in his life. Makes sense. Oh. yeah, so I guess this has now ripped off Men in Black too. That’s two Will Smith films for the price of…countless brain cells I’ve lost to gin.

10:39-“Every machine is programmed to its pilot, Tyler and that pilot is you!” Or the original alien pilot who died in captivity and said Kel, i.e. Tyler, could pilot it. I’m sure it had time prior to dying to make that change. “You’ve seen Avatar! Go!”

10:40-Holy shit, it’s been nearly an hour and forty minutes and LOS ANGELES HAS NOT YET BEEN DESTROYED. Downtown? Yeah, that’s gone.

10:41-“I always wanna know what Lightspeed felt like!” And with that, Kel just went “lightspeed” through the alien mothership Then paused inside. Now, firmly stuck, they leave their alien technology to go fist-fight the aliens, I shit you not.

Commercial Recap So Far: This is almost over. Grand.

10:46-Oh. The plan now is to set off a bomb inside of the alien mothership now that they’ve broken through using lightspeed. Of course.

10:47-Oh noes, a guard spotted them! A guard that’s actually one of the earlier guns used by Kel now attached to two hoses, slowly rocking back and forth.

10:50-Having reached the inner sanctum of the aliens, we find…they’re all asleep in pods. But they’re actually slaves! In a massive mothership! And there’s one gigantic alien that looks like a tentacled naked mole rat to rule over them all–which will shortly be blown up.

10:51-So Katana Chick keeps trying to poke this thing with a katana, but it is clearly too big. And now…I mean I guess…there’s a laser rifle and…Jesus Christ, these things get hard to follow after two drinks. Which is really disturbing. Oh, nevermind, the Naked Mole Rat Tentacle Monster is about to eat someone and Kel’s about to be crushed by a conveniently located lowered ceiling. Movie’s over.

10:55-Never mind. So, a heroic sacrifice was made, an awkward use of CGI and Kel wound up throwing/dropping slowly a grenade into the alien’s mouth. Then Captain Rodgers showed back up! And now…the ship is crashing. Because the naked mole rat tentacle isn’t around to pilot anymore? I’m not sure. But now Kel is using his magic dyslexia to stop the ship from crashing!

10:57-Clarification: they’re back on the ship they stole from the other dead alien who we call…*THROAT NOISE CLICK CLICK SOUNDS LIKE ‘GUYWOOL’*. And now they’re saved! The alien mothership is slowly crashing into…looks like…yep! East Los Angeles. And they’re safely inside with their shields turned on. Ah. Everyone’s saved.

11:00-Final shot: Kel and Katana Chick walking outside of the wreckage of the alien mother ship. Finish your drinks, because if you’re still watching SyFy Channel, Mutant Chronicles is starting.


Written by john lichman

March 12, 2011 at 9:00 pm

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