‘Battle: Los Angeles’: Did we fire the first shot in an alien invasion?

Feb. 25, 2011 | 6:39 p.m.

Sony’s upcoming alien invasion flick “Battle: Los Angeles” posits an apocalyptic scenario in which the City of Angels is the last of the world’s major cities left standing after marauding extraterrestrials invade from the heavens. It’s also based on a true story. Sort of.

As the Los Angeles Times reported on Feb. 26, 1942,  unidentified aircraft were spotted over Southern California skies — news that couldn’t have come at a worse time. Japanese war planes had attacked Pearl Harbor just two months before, and the West Coast was on edge, fearing the same fate, when the military opened fire on whatever was hovering in the early morning darkness. Panic ensued.

A barrage of anti-aircraft fire rattled the earth as beams of immense searchlights illuminated the sky. Times headlines captured the surreal moment: “Police With Hallucinations See 150 to 200 Planes in Sky, but Saner Ones Only Seven.” Roaring guns could be heard throughout the region. Homes were damaged. One woman reportedly fainted as she learned “ ‘Real Guns’ Blaze Skyward.” “Sitting on the lid of a bubbling volcano is just like awakening during an enemy air raid,” Times reporter Ray Zeman wrote in a first-person account.

Amid that eruption of artillery fire, though, not a single aircraft was hit.

It’s been 69 years since that air raid, yet what actually happened remains a mystery, one that the creative team behind the movie was excited to use as a jumping-off point: It wasn’t enemies from across an ocean surreptitiously flying over the coast. These were aliens from another world, with even more nefarious plans.

"Battle: Los Angeles" (Columbia Pictures)

According to a panel of UFO experts recently convened by Sony to help promote the movie, the scenario could actually come true.

Working from the premise that we are, in fact, not alone in the universe, the panelists said that most encounters with aliens to date have been without conflict. But were warring aliens to invade our skies, retired Air Force Capt. Robert Salas said the American military would have a fighting chance, even if the extraterrestrials might ultimately have the upper hand. He said their technology and war machinery was “being built by civilizations much more advanced than ours.”

Mark Easter of the Mutual UFO Network, a group that investigates UFOs, expects to see an uptick in reported sightings in the coming months, precisely because of the release of “Battle: Los Angeles.” He said alien-invasion-themed movies tend to cause a spike in the average of about 600 sightings sent to MUFON each month.

"Battle: Los Angeles" (Columbia Pictures)

But it’s not extraterrestrial hypochondria, he said: Instead, movies like “Battle: Los Angeles” force people to look at the universe at a wider angle, piquing their interest in what lies beyond Earth.

“They walk out of the theater, and they look up at the sky.”

– Rick Rojas


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39 Responses to ‘Battle: Los Angeles’: Did we fire the first shot in an alien invasion?

  1. MathKills says:

    I am sure this movie, like many of its predescessors, has enormous entertainment value and will probably smash it up at the box office. What has always concerned me about the alien invasion genre is the seriousness with which the general public gives these stories. So much so that Dr. Michio Kaku used it on his television show and outlined a rediculous plan for repelling the invaders. What a belly laugh! Two points of considerations before anyone should let this science farse be considered anything close to science fiction are: (Continued)

  2. MathKills says:

    1) Why? – A species smart enough to get themselves across the galaxy would need earth for what? Fresh water? Food? Entertainment? There is no logical reason for our planet to be of any use to them. The only thing such an advanced civillization should need is energy. Maybe they would come and harvest our sun for fuel… but that would be a boring movie, waking up one day and the sun is gone…
    2) If these aliens found the need to exterminate us in such a fashion as to leave the planet for themselves, why the hell would they use anything that would give us a fighting chance. If there are other civilizations out there, and they have space travel, they are most likely hundreds of thousands of years more advanced… but lets not belabor the point, they could merely be 100 years more advanced and we wouldnt stand a chance. With our advances in genetics, how long before we could engineer the perfect virus to kill all of humanity? How about nanorobots so small and lethal that no one knows there in us until one day at a predetermined time, boom, we are all simultaneously dead. Those are only the things I can think of, which means there are infinitely more possibilities. (continued)

    • Andrew Merritt says:

      we have nothing aliens want or need.Nothing,exscept perhaps art,music,philosophies.They may be intrested in that sort of thing.No doubt that our poetry,paintings,and such would be a curiouse novelty to alien scientists.

    • Duh says:

      You naively believe that a "more advanced civilization" would be like a Earthen Utopia. There's thousands of reasons why another species could want planet earth. Or you could simply look at it that the claimed alien sightings are acting just like our own scientists treat animals. Watch from afar, document, abduct, release, all while studying. It's sad that the public education system produces people like you.

  3. MathKills says:

    The point is, if aliens can get here they would likely have 0 motivation to destroy us. If they did, they would likely just vaporize the planet. BUT, in the horribly unlikely event they want to exterminate us without damage to "innocent" other species… it would happen and be over so fast we wouldnt know what hit us.

    If it was me up there, I would just do some magic tricks and convince the world I was god and convince us to destroy eachother, so much more efficient. Believe me spacefarers would love efficiency.

    • Uncleken says:

      1. You assume they are rational and kind.
      2. What happens when superior civilizations "discover" primitive civilizations? Ask the Aztecs, the Incas, the Maya et al

  4. Mark says:

    Why would aliens attack LA? It's of no strategic value whatsoever. Gotta love how Hollywood sets everything in LA because that's where they are all based.

    • jhghen says:

      Is this the most original gripe that you can come up with? Dude, look at the still — the LA sky filled with Sea Knights — does this look really plausible to you? (To put this into context, on 9/11/01, the US military had two older generation Air National Guard F-15s near Cape Cod to protect our country's commercial heart.) These things are called "movies" and they are a lot of fun. If the fact that science fiction movies stretch reality a little bit is new to you, then you are as other-worldly as the space critters.

    • Bryan says:

      The aliens attacked all over the world, not just LA. they just want Earth and they have to take out the leaders first.

  5. Harriet Bee says:

    This is true. I was a little girl with pigtails when this happened but I remember it as if it were yesterday. We lived in Los Feliz at the time and I remember the searchlights and the sound of big military guns. My sisters were crying and near hysterical but I found myself somehow exhilarated. It seemed like the dazzling lights and the anti-aircraft fire went all night long, but I guess it was only a couple of hours. I remember the next day my cousin stumbled across the leathery body of a dead extra-terrestrial in the canyon and we propped it up against a rock and took turns taking our photo with it. Days later got a terrible rash where I touched the thing and missed three days of school – which I didn't mind at all!!!

    • phillyfranko says:

      Do You have the Photographs ?

      • Harriet Bee says:

        Hi. Like I told Julie, they are over at my son's place in Eagle Rock. I had lost them for a number of years but they turned up a couple of years ago when we were sorting through my sister's things in the storage unit. The contents of that storage unit almost ended up at auction – but that's another story!! My son is holding onto them now, as he is worried that I will lose them again.

    • mark says:

      Wait, you're telling us you "propped" up an alien to take pictures with and got a rash? To quote Lebowski, "Oh man, I got a rash."

      • Harriet Bee says:

        Hi Mark. I had to prop it up because it was limp like a rag doll. It took a good while to lean it just so as to make it look like it was still alive and kickin'. It kept sadly tumbling over into the dirt. Or the head would droop. When we took the photographs I was leaning against it and where I rubbed against it my arm broke out in prickly red spots. It itched like heck and me scratching at it didn't help it go away. It just made it all the worse. I saw The Big Lebowski but I don't know it so well that I can quote lines from it. I liked True Grit very much indeed.

    • Bill Bigsly says:

      Did you try to make sweet love to it? Thats what I wold have done. Show it what humans do best!

  6. Guest says:

    My father was in the artillery stationed in La at the beginning of the war. He told me when I was a kid that the reason they opened fire was to make a point. The army had been telling the civilians that black out meant black out and finally they got fed up with it and some one said fire a few rounds. I guess things got a bit out of control.

  7. Lee Ward says:

    ?-the premise that we are, in fact, not alone-?
    E.T. is that you?
    Phone home. Humans for dinner.

    ?-extraterrestrial hypochondria-?
    Did you see that?

    Red Riding Hood looks like more fun.

  8. Serge Bérard says:

    "most alien encounters to date have been without conflict" : what alien encounters?

    Capt Salas said the (alien) war technology WAS being built by more advanced civilizations. Oh yeah? This should be phrased as a hypothetical proposition and not a statement of fact, no?

    Maybe Mr Rojas should learn to write, and THEN try to become a journalist.

  9. D K says:

    I certainly hope and pray this is in actuality a good,sound sci fi movie, You might understand the reason for my doubts" There hasn't been a good quality one since "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" A thousand years ago. We deserve something better than a continuation of the moranic, no substance sci fi's.since then.

  10. Markus K. says:

    Great, another "alien invasion" movie where ALIENS are portrayed as the villain. Don't get me wrong, this movie could be fantastic (definitely LOOKS great), but considering it was under a year when the LAST alien invasion movie came out…..how did that one do at the box office?

    ORIGINALITY is dead in Hollywood, or possibly close to it.

    • Tim says:

      Yeah, that's what I was wondering too. What's the deal with all these alien invasion movies? Is this a proven money making theme for Hollywood or something?

      • Tmiller says:

        Friendly-alien movies are pretty boring. Also, our foreign policy has us on edge about outsiders, so it plays to our fears.

  11. Rafael says:

    An uptick in reported sightings just like an uptick in people saying they are Puerto Rican when Ricky Martin was popular. I can't wait!!! Hahahahahaha!!!

  12. Glipneezlegloo says:

    How anyone can further doubt the verifiable fact that inexplicable craft are present (and long have been) in Earth skies befuddles me.

  13. John B says:

    Aliens don't have to attack Mankind. All they have to do is wait. Between our propensity to harm ourselves, the cycles of Earth changes, and the tendency of Humanity to highly populate the coastal regions, there won't be much opposition to them in any case. Their only problem will be cleaning up afterr us.

  14. Henry Bowman says:

    If in the near future there should be ostensibly peaceful "First Contact", we should not be too quick to assume that one of their great works of literature entitled "To Serve Man" is an outline or guide to laying on Science to benefit Mankind. It may just turn out to be (with all credit to Rod Serling) nothing more than a cookbook.

  15. Don Flickinger says:

    It is interesting that more and more movies, documentaries and TV shows, such as History Channel et al, keep the UFO subject alive. It seems to be even more active now more than ever. Having been a person who saw a UFO during daylight and up close back in 1966, I have no doubt what-so-ever they are there, and I sure would like to live long enough to hopefully find out what they are all about. I too hope the movie is a good one and not another "War of the Worlds" type.

  16. john says:

    If E.T.s wanted to clear the Earth of humanity, they'd bio-engineer a disease, or several diseases, and sit back and wait. Now that would make for a plot, fit only for a '70s TV movie of the week. This one is definitely better, from an action perspective.

  17. thomas vesely says:

    the thing is we find earthlings delicious..eating them is illegal in our sector..as with anything ,the forbidden adds a frisson.thus we come in stealth,eat a few and depart.

  18. Julie Thomas says:

    where are those pictures taken with the 'leathery aliens' stated above? I want to see them……!

    • Harriet Bee says:

      Hi Julie. Had misplaced them for a couple of years but the photos are now over at my son's place in Eagle Rock. Can make arrangements to see them if you want. Will have to be a day when I can use Tom's car. Thanks for your interest!

    • Harriet Bee says:

      They are at my son's house in Eagle Rock. If you want to arrange a time I can meet you over there and show them to you. Weekends are best.

  19. Rob says:

    Assuming extra-terrestrials are real and that they can travel to earth, then one can say they have superior technology. If that is so, then if/when they arrive signals the downfall of humans. Several cases in point exist, one being the European arrival on the North American continent. How did that turn out for the people already here even with no initial genocidal intentions?
    Additionally, should one assume that on the extra-terrestrial's home world, they faced some sort of competition for supremacy on that world at some point in their history, or even currently. Also, given that conflict and competition are significant driving factors in technological development, these extra-terrestrials "won" the technological race on their planet and therefore are not likely to want to give that up to what they would likely see as a bunch of technological neanderthals.
    There is no guarantee that there would be any sort of "moral self-restraint" on their part and it is quite likely to be the opposite.
    Which brings me to my last point, which is this: As a necessity for human survival, we need to be the ones going out and finding extra-terrestrial races, rather than waiting for them to come to us. Furthermore, anything, such as the active SETI signals (passive SETI is a necessity), Voyager, or possibly even mundane communication signals, that could act as a beacon showing any extra-terrestrials where we are in the universe needs to stop, immediately, as we quite literally need to hide in the inky blackness until we can go find them, at least on equal terms. The bottom line is if they come here first, we lose.

  20. peter says:

    gotta love the illuminati programming, movies like this will make project blue beam possible

  21. #$^*(% says:

    When you are ready we will let ourselves be known. You are far from ready.

  22. Guest says:

    can someone please tell me how long the film is? thanks

  23. Spock The Vulcan says:

    I think to bio-engineer a disease has its own risk as the effect of the interactions between pathogen and Earth's ecosystem would be hard to predict and there is also a chance of mutation by the pathogen… i.e. it could make the planet less habitable, ruin the resources they want to harvest, even harm the invaders themselves or we may develop immunity and render the disease useless. To let 2 Earth civilization fight each other has even more risk (e.g. nuclear holocaust!!!). I think the best way to get what they want is to do it as quietly as possible and fighting would be the last resort, and if it is a highly advanced civilization that we are dealing with, they would try to extract what they want covertly as it would be cheaper and have lower risk. One has to realise that if they don't make any gains from the 'investment' that they put into this invasion, then there would be no point in going to war, unless of course they are the Klingons or 'Predator Alien' who fight for fun and honour. Good luck, Earth!

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