Sony’s first panel of the Con featured our first look at the army vs. aliens thriller BATLLE: LOS ANGELES, with Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez, director Jonathan Liebsman and producer Neil Moritz in the house.
BATTLE: LOS ANGELES
The panel kicked off with a new extended trailer that starts with some text that says in February of 1942, people witnessed something over LA, the military fought it to no effect, and the truth has never been explained…until now. We see a helicopter flying over the city of L.A. in some cool wide shots that shows it’s being attacked from above and on the ground by heavy fire. More shots of the military as a General says they’re facing an “infestation of God knows what, but they’re not of this earth.” He then informs Aaron Eckhart that he has 3 hours to rescue civilians trapped in the city before bombs are dropped. (Plot!) “Kill anything that is not human!”
The rest of the trailer is mostly battle footage: Dusty shot of soldiers walking through the street and some aliens packing some serious firepower, using what looks like big machine guns. There are quick glimpses of them on rooftops. They’re maybe 10 feet tall and look like they’re wearing some kind of armor, with visible flesh underneath. There are hints at a gross-out autopsy scene and a fight on the beach with aliens coming out of the water, before someone says “We cannot lose Los Angeles!” Generic rock score kicks in as Aaron Eckhart is shown carrying children to safety while alien ships fly over head. “BATTLE: LOS ANGELES.”
While the footage looked pretty good, it did give off kind of a DISTRICT 9 vibe, with a gritty, handheld style and similar aliens. I imagine they’re going to have to do some work to set themselves apart from that movie.
The cast and crew then came out, including Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez, director Jonathan Liebsman, and producer Neil Moritz. Highlights of the panel:
- - Michelle Rodriguez came out beaming and yelled, “Wassup Comic Con?!” She seemed to be the only one who was happy to be there.
- - Liebsman said they worked hard to come up with a new alien concept, one that’s not a creature in the Ridley Scott ALIEN sense and not an insect like DISTRICT 9, but something literally alien to our understanding. They were influenced by the art of music video director Chris Cunnighman and achieved something that he described as “biomechanical,” which fits with what was quickly seen in the trailer.
- - Moritz said that the stuff from 1942 mentioned at the beginning was a true unsolved UFO event and that they decided to turn it in to scouting missions for a worldwide event in 2011.
- - Liebsmen described B:LA as a “war movie with aliens in it” and that he tried to combine the look of embedded footage in Iraq that you could find on YouTube with a first person shooter video game. Rodriguez says the first time she saw footage she tried to grab an imaginary X-Box controller to play the movie.
- - Rodriguez learned how to take apart an M4 with a pen in under a minute. “Modern Warfare doesn’t teach you that.”
- - A dude got seriously choked up when talking to Eckhart about his preparation for the role. Eckhart took the basic actor stance and talked about how difficult it was for them all to go through boot camp and become “real” soldiers. He says they drank, acted and swore like marines and learned about each other and “what kind of girls we like.” (When he said “we” he was looking at Rodriguez.)
- - Some guy called Rodriguez “Ana Lucia” and asked her if she ever wanted to take on a lighter role. Her response “You mean get raped and win an Oscar?”
There wasn’t really any “Holy sh*t!” moments that blew away the audience and the cast (aside from Rodriguez) seemed to be taking it really seriously and not having fun with the crowd that was there to have fun. In fact, a large number of people left in the middle of the panel.) BATTLE: LA looks like it could be entertaining, but I’ll wait til we see more to make a final decision.