SDCC: Sony’s Battle: Los Angeles Panel

ON attended Sony’s presentation for Battle: Los Angeles, directed by Jonathan Liebesman, who was in attendance with actors Aaron Eckhart and Michelle Rodriguez, and producer Neil Moritz, the man behind the “Fast and Furious” franchise.

Although we went to the set of the movie and learned quite a bit about the movie, there’s yet to be any trailer or footage from the movie, so there was quite a bit of excitement for what was one of Comic-Con’s first looks. (Earlier in the week, Sony plastered posters for the new viral site connected to the movie––in San Diego’s Gaslamp District.)

The general premise involves an alien invasion of Los Angeles and how a battalion of Marines has to save a group of survivors in a suburban neighborhood while fighting off the insurmountable attack.

The panel kicked things off with an amazing extended trailer that sets up the premise by introducing the famous original “Battle of Los Angeles” that took place in 1942 where supposedly 100,000 people saw something in the sky and the army shot hundreds of rounds into the sky with no results. It shows (presumably) real headlines of the event and the titles say that what had never been explained… Until Now. We see the modern-day wanton destruction of L.A. as a news reporter’s voice-over states, “These objects were completely undetected until they entered our atmosphere.”

We then meet the main characters, a group of young Marines led by Aaron Eckhart’s staff sergeant who are flying in a chopper seeing all the destruction below them when they’re attacked. We see a sky full of Marine choppers landing at an airport where the soldiers are given an update on the situation from the general. (Oddly, this was the exact scene we watched being shot when we visited the set last year.)

“The situation is as follows,” the general tells them. “We’ve got an infestation of God knows what, but they’re not of this earth. I want you to proceed to a police station. Got a distress call that there are civilians still there. We don’t know how many, just get the survivors and you radio in and we’ll have helicopters in the area to evacuate you out. Be advised that you have three hours before our bombs drop, and make no mistake, they will drop with or without you. This is not a drill. And you kill anything that’s not human.”

That’s pretty much the set-up for the main storyline, and we then got an extended scene that began with the Marines walking slowly though heavy, viscous smoke unable to see a thing until they come to a clearing filled with abandoned cars. They’re trying to figure out where they are when a dog starts running towards them and as one of the soldiers looks at the dog’s tag, they’re attacked and they duck for cover behind the cars as fire comes from all sides. “Where did they come from?” one of them yells. The camera then follows a small group of the soldiers as they crash through a fence to someone’s backyard and go into someone’s house. One of the soldiers is separated and ends up alone in a laundry room, and he’s super-nervous about what just attacked them. He calls the staff sergeant and talks to him, telling him that “these things are everywhere,” and this guy is clearly super-jumpy as he gets freaked out by the buzzing of a dryer. He slowly edges outside to the building complex’s courtyard, constantly looking through his gun scope to shoot at anything he sees and not realizing that an alien is standing directly behind him.

“We cannot lose Los Angeles,” the general’s voice says, before we watched another minute or two of footage of Los Angeles in ruins during the attack. We see some CNN footage of a battleship being attacked, as well as scenes of another Marine helicopter being shot down, we see a few shots of the aliens fighting against soldiers, as well as the actual alien ships as they’re flying above L.A. We also get a brief glimpse of Bridget Moynahan as one of the survivors running after her son, and the footage ended with the Marines and some of the people they saved in a bus as a giant alien spacecraft hovers in front of them getting ready to blast all of them.

Because of the military aspect of the movie, a lot of what we saw looked a bit like “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” meets “Halo” and Rodriguez even mentioned that when she was shown 40 minutes of footage the previous week, she kept reaching for a controller trying to control what she saw on screen. The footage really looked good and we were surprised to learn from Liebesman later that a lot of what they showed was unfinished, something that made him cringe, so it’s good to know that all of it will look even better as they continued to work on it over the next six months.

After the footage, Eckhart, Rodriguez and the others talked about what went into making the movie, including the training of the actors playing Marines. We’ll try to write up some of that soon. We also had a chance to interview Moritz earlier about how he found the script and the movie’s franchise potential (as well as some of the many other movies he’s developing) and we hope to get that interview up very soon as well.