From the visual effects supervisor from HBO’s hit fantasy show Game of Thrones comes this movie.
You know what this world needs? Another ham-fisted science fiction film that acts as an allegory for the Iraq War Thankfully, Jabbar Raisain is here to rectify that gross injustice.
Here’s the story: sometime in the future, aliens invade Earth kicking off a gigantic war between the extraterrestrial invaders and an international army. Eventually, the interlopers are jettisoned out, leaving the army to stay vigilant with a series of outposts spread across the globe, repelling the thousands of aliens that were left behind.
To capture the day-to-day danger of mopping up alien invaders, a documentary crew heads over to Outpost 37, located in the deadliest area on Earth — a nexus of ET hooliganism and old-fashioned human terrorists.
What starts as a slice of life presentation on a soldier’s life escalate into a full-on action movie, as the squad defends itself against well-armed locals and a surprise alien threat.
On paper, I suppose there’s some potential for intrigue with Alien Outpost, terrible title notwithstanding. Alien invasion movies, if done decently, can pack a decent B-movie wallop and turn a lazy Sunday into a fun couch-based movie memory. That is all, obviously, merely a rambling, character-crunching preamble to this: Alien Outpost isn’t very good.
While not a complete flub, the film fails to differentiate itself from any number of low-budget, direct-to-video scifi tellings. In a genre so crowded with players, if you’re an also-ran, you’re dead meat. And that’s what Alien Outpost is: dead meat.
I don’t care how many Game of Thrones names get dropped (the GoT showrunners are quoted on the front of the disc), Raisain’s effort here just falls short all-around. First off is the half-hearted documentary approach. The hook is this is from the documentary, but the cinematography is much more disciplined than a shaky-cam found-footage approach would be, this defusing any manufactured tension from the documentary gimmick. Me, the less of these POV riffs on action movies the better; implied suspense from having someone “film” the events is not worth the trade-off of traditional filming.
But I digress. In Alien Outpost the documentary thing is just tedious. You’ll have to sit through clumsily blocked off laser blaster action, the cost of which is enduring a string of “soldier interviews” with actors struggling to deliver on stereotypes. The overriding alien story is undercut from some seriously ham-fisted America-as-occupier metaphor; in fact, the scifi bonanza doesn’t kick in until the home stretch.
Which is all a shame because the effects pushing out the action are legitimately solid, headlined by some nicely staged pyrotechnics, CGI bad guys and a spacecraft or two. This is unsurprising considering Raisain’s pedigree as a visual effects maestro, through the end result is a feeling of melancholy over what could have been. Or at least, what the budget could have been used for alternatively.
A good Blu-ray from Shout! Factory opens with a tight 1.85:1/1080p transfer that does wonders for the visual effects and a noisy-enough and, frankly, surprising 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix. Extras: commentary from the director and the DP, cast and crew interviews, and deleted scenes.
(Alien for ‘bleh’)