Battle: New York, Day 2 (2011)

There’s a terrible flash of light and most of the people in New York City vanish all at once.

The few who are left have become mindless drones following the instructions of the big machines which have just arrived.

Except there are a few survivors who haven’t joined the ranks of the zombie-like drones. And they all have one thing in common:

Serious mental health issues.

Now, as I’ve mentioned before, Andrew Bellware is one of those directors I keep an eye on, not that he’s a master director or has made any earth shattering SF movies. Instead, he has created a handful of interesting “B” science fiction movies like Clone Hunter, Prometheus Trap, Millennium Crisis and Robot Revolution. They feature densely imagined worlds, moderately interesting SF ideas — and look remarkably good despite being shot on a tiny budget in his New York City micro studio.

For once, he shot a film almost entirely on location, without the layers of computer readouts, static, low quality video feeds, and all the other tricks he’s used to hide the minimal (i.e., cheap) nature of his films.

His lead character, Laura Sommer, wakes up to find that the voices she’s been hearing in her head are real and the machines seem to be after her.

And one of the handful of mentally disturbed survivors knows a lot more about what’s going on than he’s saying.

Once again, Bellware has given us a story about artificial intelligence — the “Pandora Machine” his production company and first film are named after. As in several of his other films, we also have nano-machines and “zombies.”

Which, yes, does work out well when you have to bring in a science fiction film for a budget price.

However, the alien machines — giant spiked wheels with a single red eye — look remarkably real, even if one knows that he surely didn’t build one that size. I suspect they are a digital effect — although they are definitely far better than those that showed up in his next film.

But perhaps he saved a lot of money on sets and props this time around.

This is yet another solid and relatively serious SF film, one which transcends its limitations and offers some solid “B” movie thrills.

I just wish more filmmakers out there would put as many ideas and as much effort into their SF films.

Battle New York, Day 2 isn’t an exceptional film. But it is far better than any film this minimal has any right to be.

And we could use a lot more of that.\

(Watch for free at Tubi)

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