SET VISIT: Jonathan Liebesman's Battle: Los Angeles (2011)

Last year I got a chance to check out the set of the upcoming film, Jonathan Liebesman's BATTLE: LOS ANGELES. You've seen the trailer, so you know this one is going to be packed solid with action. Well, what you don't know is, star Aaron Eckhart is just as bad ass as his character.

We hit the set in Baton Rouge on a freezing cold day and headed straight to a scene of destruction in a fictional Santa Monica, CA. If you don't know what it's all about, here is the deal. Aaron Eckhart plays Staff Sargent Nantz, a man who lost many of his troops in his last tour of duty. When an alien invasion happens, he's got to lead his team through an occupied Los Angeles to save civilians from the creepy-ass foreign visitors. We got a glimpse of an alien leg, but more on that later. Like I said, Baton Rouge was freezing that day, and I'm a total wus about the cold. But watching Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez and company running and jumping over what was a pile of rubble by this point, in the middle of explosions, aiming at an orange balloon with a laser box made me feel even wimpier.

I'm not telling you what that orange balloon was for. You'll know it when you see it. What impressed me was Eckhart, who looks pretty darn badass, falling, injuring himself pretty badly and continuing to shoot. I called him on it later during our interview and he laughed it off. When I questioned him about it at San Diego Comic Con this summer, he told me that he hoped they were actually going to use that shot. He also told me I was bad luck for him, since he'd just been in a minor car accident that day. I'd hate to be responsible for messing up that pretty face. Seriously, he's one of the most underrated actors out there. (Don't tell him about my crush, okay?)

We were given ear plugs and moved to an out of the way spot while giant explosions went off. This scene is at the end of the film, so you know they were immense. I'll freely admit I was looking forward to each kaboom since the heat from them was gloriously intense. Ash flew everywhere, and we were coated in it by the end. You can see it in the trailer, but even from our far off location, you could tell this was no kinda/sorta action film. These people were panting like crazy when each cut was called. In fact, the cast told us that they'd all gone to boot camp together, and that Eckhart was really a commander to them. Only Michelle got to sleep in her own tent.

We also got a chance to check out a neighborhood that had been destroyed by the alien threat. The Santa Monica village was built on one of the biggest sound stages I've ever seen and the walls were covered in green screen material. We got to check out a semi-destroyed pool at one of the apartment buildings that we were told was part of a pivotal scene in the film, involving the alien. The beasties have a desperate need for water, we were told.

We learned a little bit more about that towards the end of the day. When we all signed on for the trip, we were mysteriously asked for our shoe size. After quite a number of set visits, that sort of request makes you nervous. I've been told to wear boots because there were alligators roaming the set of Jonah Hex and told to bring industrial strength sun screen for others. Well, when we finally got to a smaller stage, we were handed giant boxes with hip waders in them. They brought us to a dark, spooky tunnel, with water up to the top of my thighs. This alien breeding ground had pods, that we were told had something to do with alien babies. There were wires and cords under the dark water, and even knowing it was a set, I was still worried that my clumsy ass would take a header into the goo. I'm proud to say that didn't embarrass myself. As we left the water, I caught a glimpse of one, mechanical-looking leg hanging out from under a tarp. I don't think I was supposed to see it. All I can tell you was that it was big! Later on, Rodriguez told us how she not only fell into the water, but that she was just as icked out by it as I was.

I'm dying to know what you guys think of the trailer. I think it looks pretty damn amazing. Am I alone in my love for Mr. Eckhart? Spill your guts below.

BATTLE: LOS ANGELES opens March 11th, 2011.



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