Do Not Watch: Battle of Los Angeles

Imagine, for a moment, a world without the SyFy channel. Sure, you’d miss Doctor Who and Stargate SG1, and Battlestar Galactica reruns are gone, but this is an acceptable sacrifice to live in a world where Battle of Los Angeles was never made.


The Netflix description calls this pile of cow dung a “mockbuster”. What’s a mockbuster? From my experience, it’s when you see a successful movie (like Independence Day) and get the idea that you can remake it better than the original (you can’t).  I’m sure the phrase was coined halfway through the final edit preview, because this movie makes most student films look Oscar-worthy.

Battle of Los Angeles begins as all good invasions do, with the bad guys showing up to wreak havoc. A really bad-looking computer-generated ship shows up above downtown LA. You’d think a giant alien ship hovering above downtown would have some effect on freeway traffic, but the budget was so low they didn’t have time to paint out the cars on the road.

The aliens shoot their by-the-numbers Death Ray and “destroy” Los Angeles with an eye-abusing series of overlaid explosions. Say goodbye to L.A. (not so much because it’s destroyed, but more because all the action takes place the hills surrounding the city). Besides the death ray, this movie does a few more things by the numbers: the Alien ship is invulnerable to human weapons, and humans have been keeping an old alien ship secret at the Roswell base. (And when I say this movie “does things by the numbers,” I mean “photocopies the script from Independence Day.”)

According to this movie’s poster, the aliens first came in 1942. According to the script, you don’t need to know when the aliens first showed up, you are just supposed to roll with it when a World War 2 fighter plane shows up out of the blue and adds a 1940s-era pilot to the hot mess. (I wasn’t too confused by this development because I just assumed that someone was using a CG model of a P52-Mustang that they already had on their hard drive).

The pilot has to get to the regional branch of area 51, so now we tack a road trip formula onto this — well, I have no words to describe what this has become.  The scriptwriters continue to wage war against the concept of good writing and play their trump card: a female ninja, wearing a unitard, who shows up to fight the alien spaceships with her sword. A missile equipped with a nuclear payload didn’t even scratch these things, but her sword is apparently some kind of magic can opener that works on hyper-advanced spaceships.

Through some predictable double-crossing and the script’s lack of focus, the ninja loses an eye. Now it’s have a pirate ninja trying to stop the death ray from Independence Day. I am not making this up; the entire script was lifted from the margin of a tenth grader’s math notes. But the worst part of this movie isn’t the nosebleed-inducing story, the embarrassingly bad acting, or the poorly crafted visual effects. It’s the walls.


All the walls — and in one case a very dangerous ceiling — are made of plastic pallets stood on end. Little effort was made to disguise them, but it’s an understandable shortcut in the world of low-budget sci-fi. The pallets allow them to reconfigure all the hallways and rooms for each scene, but the obvious repetition of the same ceiling each time made me laugh.

As I just said, there is a very menacing ceiling made out of one of these pallets. And it slowly lowers towards our Pirate Ninja and the Generic Hero that wasn’t worth mentioning before now. It had me on the edge of my seat. A PLASTIC PALLET WAS LOWERING ON THEM! They were panicked!

I just hope the pirate ninja and her counterpart use this clip in their demo reels so way we can be sure that they never land another acting job again. But it got worse.

How could it possibly get worse?

The evil alien overlord shows up.

WOW. I was once in a not-so-pretty car accident, where I hit my head and was pretty out of it. I am sure in that state I could have designed a better alien overlord.

I am sure my two-year-old could do better.

I am sure my four-month-old son could do better.

In fact, if you had no hands and lacked the ability to talk — or if you were completely incapacitated beyond even the limited faculties available to Christy Brown himself — there is a good chance that you too could best the Battle of Los Angeles design team.

I cheered for the Alien Overlord because I wanted to see Pirate Ninja and Generic Hero die horribly. But this movie let me down at every turn, and the non-dynamic duo survived to destroy the alien mothership in a breathtaking montage of one three-second shot of the ship falling out of the sky used ten times.

Eventually, the ship misses downtown L.A. and lands in the same spot where most of the other action takes place, on a hill outside the city. A hill where, if you squint very hard, you can see one of the Warner Brothers back lots in the distance. In fact, feature-length footage of that back lot might have made for a better movie.

I hope the FCC investigates the SyFy channel for producing this terrible, terrible movie. DO NOT WATCH!!!

About Donald Conrad

Donald Conrad is an avid father and a dedicated gamer -- or maybe that's the other way around. He loves his games, and he loves his family, and he's pretty sure he loves sleep, even if he doesn't remember what it was like. Follow his life confusion on Twitter @ConManEd