Battle for Los Angeles

Title: Battle for Los Angeles
Rating: 2.5/5
Genre: Sci-Fi, Action
Starring: Kel Mitchell, Nia Peeples, Dylan Vox, Theresa June Tao
Director: Mark Atkins

“I can tell you one thing: they don't come in peace”

Not to be confused with the recently released big-budget atrocity that was “Battle: LA,” this conveniently titled and released within the same month comes from the king of cheese, the SyFy studios. With the big budget version being so awful it wouldn't be surprising if this never really got noticed, but for me this is a test for my hypothesis; that a bad big budget action can be improved by a removal of most of the budget, forcing their work into the path of dreadful CGI effects and sets that look like someones back yard and into that much sought after territory of 'hilariously bad.' It's quite surprising just how well this manages to do that, and not only because the last time I saw the lead role is when I was a teenager lounging about to 'Kenan and Kel' on Nickelodeon, and he does look mighty odd in full army gear.

Normally they strive to work with whatever information they garner from the original so as to pilfer and make it look as much like it as possible so that when it gets released a month earlier, people watch it by mistake, but it seems they didn't manage to get all that much intelligence this time around – not that there was a huge amount to give – so instead they've taken as many clichés as possible and packed them in. No stopping at just cliché lines but the script, which is oddly one of its greatest strengths, is filled with twists and turns that will make you laugh and wonder how you missed that homage; from the Star Wars swordplay with the remotes; Alien's high pitched scream; Terminator's rampage; Sand Worms from Dune, to the opening footage which look like 'Independence Day' before the Director threw a fit and asked them what kind of moron would believe those effects. Even the smaller ships have been poached for this story, except the dogfighters have no shields and are incredibly weak making for some great scenes of an old man shooting one down with his revolver, or tossing debris into its path and watching it crash and burn.

Quite frankly they often don't feel too threatening with their continued use of non-lethal EMP weapons and large armored craft that can be destroyed by a middle-aged woman with a sword, and all this serves to keep the tone light so you can appreciate the subtleties of Kel's “Oh shit what we gonna do” face, or the eye candy desperately rooting around in her bag of tricks for which weapon she fancies using. Jokes such as the Reeses Pieces loving alien emerge but altogether feel too few and far between, and whilst there are some excellent moments it feels like they're tied together by filler intended to hop from one joke to the next as quickly as possible; it simply doesn't flow as well as it should have, but cheesy acting, bad CGI and everything else aside, this film is still better than the film it's intending to mimic, and not only because we actually win by the time the credits roll.


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