Aaahhhhh, in some ways you have to admire The Asylum. Admire them, laugh at their output and then simply hope that there’s a torture chamber built that will one day house everyone involved with the company and force them to watch their own films on an endless loop. Many of their movies are churned out simply to cash in on bigger releases, with this one timed perfectly to fool the casual browser into thinking he has bagged some super-early copy of Battle: Los Angeles. What a difference one colon and two letters can make, as the blackmailing proctologist once said.
So what delights does their latest “mockbuster” hold for us?
Writer-director Mark Atkins actually looks like he may come close to providing something decent on a couple of occasions but that would seem to stem from the fact that he’s simply ripping off Independence Day, Battle: Los Angeles and any other alien invasion movie of that ilk (essentially going back to the likes of the original The War Of The Worlds). The camera sometimes points in the right direction, some of the effects are okay, especially when compared to the usual CGI work for this type of film, and it doesn’t endlessly repeat the same shot over and over again, though we get the usual recycling of sets, stock footage, etc.
It’s just not enough though. You can’t get away with something this sub-standard when the material has been done SO many times before and SO much better. Heck, at least throw in a mega-shark or two.
The cast are all pretty forgettable. Nia Peeples makes for a pleasing kick-ass female lead when she appears, sword in hand, and the male lead is Kel Mitchell, which just makes me feel sorry for him (I always thought he was the funnier half of Kenan and Kel and enjoyed his small role in Mystery Men). Theresa June Tao isn’t too bad considering she’s the least known of the lead performers and Dylan Vox is okay but, let’s face it, he’s no Paul Logan. Robert Pike Daniel steals every scene that he’s in as the tough-talking, fearless Commander Wake so make sure that you only fall asleep once his involvement is over.
Oh, I forgot to mention the plot. Hahahahahaha. Okay, it’s an alien invasion. Army people get distressed at this. Spaceships shoot people and whiz by overhead. A WWII pilot appears from nowhere for no apparent reason (though there is an explanation later on, to be fair). Then the army has the sense to send . . . . . . . . . about half a dozen soldiers to defeat the alien menace.
It’s cheap, it’s terrible, the dialogue is almost consistently laughable, you all know that I had some fun with this one. Another point in it’s favour is the big baddie, another piece of CGI that actually isn’t all that bad considering everything seemed to cost less to make than an episode of Scooby Doo. Sadly, it doesn’t have the advantage of being so ridiculous that a certain level of exuberance is automatic (yeah, I’m on about those mega-beasties again) so I have to keep this one at just below average, which is being a hell of a lot more generous than many other critics would be.
DIRECTOR: MARK ATKINS
STARS: KEL MITCHELL, NIA PEEPLES, DYLAN VOX, THERESA JUNE TAO
RUNTIME: 90 MINS APPROX