Written and Directed by Liz Adams
Starring Reginald VelJohnson, Jordan Ladd, Gerald Webb, Michael Teh, Darin Cooper, Darren Anthony Thomas, Kevin Yarbrough, Erin Coker, Andy Clemence, Angelique Cinelu, Stephanie Hullar, Meredith Thomas
While it may be hard to believe that Air Collision is the best Asylum film yet in the entire history of Asylum films, you should really take my word for it.
Sporting a multi-ethnic, and large, ensemble cast involving actors playing scientists, FAA agents, commercial airplane pilots, marines, The President, The First Lady and First Daughter, and people running from falling satellites combined with some pretty good computer graphic effects of said satellites falling and airplanes ramming into buildings, Air Collision certainly *feels* like The Asylum shelled out about ten grand more than they usually do for their monster films.
Air Collision is an updated version of the classic airport disaster film plot; satellites controlled by a brand new military defense software program called ARC (think: Skynet) has gone haywire and taken over in-flight Air Force One with First Family on board. The satellites are literally falling out of the sky and hitting people, buildings, etc, in huge fiery explosions! FAA control tower operator Bob Abbot has no choice but to ground all flights in the United States because of the debris and because ARC, malfunctioning, might use Air Force One’s newly installed heat-seeking missiles to defend President Phillips against any other aircraft it decides might be a threat. Unfortunately, a commercial jetliner carrying a full load of passengers is hit by a falling satellite’s electrical static and all of its communications are disabled. Captain Roscoe Simms (Michael Teh) and First Officer Aoki (Gerald Webb) must fly their airliner without any help from the ground and get their passengers to safety all the while never knowing, until it is too late, that they are on a direct collision course with Air Force One! It’s up to Abbot, his intrepid FAA intern, Scientist Antonia Pierce, and First Daughter Milani to do their parts to prevent imminent, fiery, horrible un-patriotic disaster.
There’s so much going on in this Air Collision; there are about ten main characters and never a lull in the action, danger, or tension for longer than 60 seconds at a time. Air Collision’s main strength is the pacing: you don’t have time to think about whether anything makes sense because, by the time you’ve analyzed the new plan the characters have come up with, it’s already gone horribly wrong and they’re working on something else. These people just can’t get a break; everything that can go wrong does go wrong, unrelentingly, until you’re not even sure that anyone is actually going to make it out alive. Adams writes witty, but expected, dialogue and one-liners for her action heroes and the straight-faced delivery of ham-fisted lines really works. It’s like watching Airport ’77 or Airport ’79 with an updated 21st Century plot and a refreshingly multi-ethnic cast.
And I do mean “refreshing cast”. Reginald VelJohnson (Abbot) gets most of the screen time in Air Collision; he and his ethnically-unidentifiable-and-capable-female intern have a serious problem that only they can solve. Dr. Antonia Pierce is a beautiful woman (Erin Coker) who isn’t in the least bimbo-ish or laughable in her very very serious, science-y role (for some reason she’s the only one who understands the ARC program, I think? In any case, she’s great. She spends the whole time riding around on a bicycle in traffic desperately trying to reach some kind of army bunker). Jordan Ladd has first billing on the poster, but she’s rather forgettable as Aoki’s secret crush and head stewardess-lady. She’s not bad, exactly, but perhaps compared with some of the other, much better and much more exciting performances, she’s just okay.
The actor with, perhaps, the best role is Andy Clemence, who, as President Phillips, gets to yell at an air force operative who has boarded Air Force One in mid-air – wait, let me repeat that: who has boarded air force one in mid-air – and orders him to take his wife from one mid-air moving plane to another, using a rope, by saying, “I’m the President of The United States!”. The air force dude acquiesces, of course. Who can argue with that? I shall not neglect to mention the dramatic performance of Darin Cooper, as pilot Col. Chuck Lawler aboard Air Force One, who waves a gun around a lot in the cockpit and threatens to shoot the main control console through which ARC is watching their every move (Cooper is also awesome because he played a Cardassian officer on the best show in the world, otherwise known as Deep Space Nine). My favorite actor in the world, Michael Teh, again does his impeccable American accent as Pilot Roscoe Simms (what kind of a name is that? I love it! The in no way looks like a "Roscoe Simms" but the casting is so completely carefree in Air Collision that you just have to buy it). Played totally straight, the plot and the drama and the intensity of each subsequent tragic, loud, disaster make for some really funny moments.
Yes, it’s funny. It’s a movie about a plane crashing into a building and into another plane and lots of people dying horrible deaths, and it’s funny. The comparison to 9/11 is not lost on me (though, as the director points out, ANY film in which any plane crashes into anything resembling a building is going to remind people of 9/11 for the rest of eternity) but instead, I think Air Collision is an homage to old disaster films from the 1970s; Adams just has access to movie magic that used to be impossible for low-budget disaster movies like Airport ’77 such as satellites, Earth-shots from space, airplanes flying above and below each other with people hanging out of them, etc., but essentially the main, tried-and-true story remains: the heroic pilots, the terrified passengers, and the dedicated team working from ground control to save the day. The possibilities are endless for a company like The Asylum. With a computer, almost any plot, or death, is possible. So we have: fireballs, lightening striking planes, people falling into engines in mid-flight, and deadly, haywire computer programs that were originally designed to protect us.
Ultimately, we all know The President, the most important man in the Universe, must be saved at all costs. Just don’t underestimate the resourcefulness of his teenage daughter, or his troops on the ground, or the hot pilot in the commercial airliner; they’re going to try everything and anything, no matter how horrible it turns out, to save him.
I watched this, and I liked it when the lady that plays the scientist Antonia is about to be arrested by military security I think, and she says "I'm not a bad guy!" However, she says the line wrong; instead of saying it like "I'm not one of the badguys", like a terrorist or something, she says it like "yeah, I hit my ex-girlfriend once, but that doesn't make me a bad guy!" It's little details like this I enjoy in these B-movies.
Also, Tristan forgot the best part of the line: "I AM THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES AND YOU WILL DO WHAT I TELL YOU...NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
"Another great thing about being 70,000 light years away from the nearest Starfleet vessel is that once we finally get back to Earth, we can makeup bullshit stories. Off the top of my head: 'We met Amelia Earhart,' 'We singlehandedly eliminated most of the Borg fleet' or 'Paris and I turned into giant pink lizards and mated.'"
" I grant, at least, that there are two distinct conditions of my mental existence -- the condition of a lucid reason, not to be disputed, and belonging to the memory of events forming the first epoch of my life -- and a condition of shadow and doubt, appertaining to the present, and to the recollection of what constitutes the second great era of my being. Therefore, what I shall tell of the earlier period, believe; and to what I may relate of the later time, give only such credit as may seem due, or doubt it altogether, or, if doubt it ye cannot, then play unto its riddle the Oedipus. " - Eleonora, Edgar Allen Poe