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Review: Alien Infiltration

The alternative title in USA is Alien Opponent.

I saw this in the bargain area in a local supermarket so I wasn’t expecting very much but this is a film that is fully aware it is a B-movie and the film-makers just dive right in and deliver a fun-ride of a film without worrying about drama, character development or a plot.

Tom Mazurski (Kevin Shea) is the big man in his local town, most of which he owns, and he likes spending his time hanging out in his junkyard with his buddies, playing with their guns but when he catches his much younger wife Meghan (Ashley Bates) in the barn having sex with his young employee Bradan (Cuyle Carvin) he starts beating her. Meghan’s mother Rita (Hilma Falkowski) comes to her rescue by putting a hammer into Mazurki’s skull killing him right away. Rita and Meghan go back into the house to discuss what they are going to tell the authorities to ensure they get hold of all of Mazurski’s money, including his life insurance.

Just then a space ship crashes into the barn. Tom’s drinking buddies go to investigate and all three of them get killed. This gives Rita the idea to blame the alien for killing Tom but it leaves Rita and Meghan with a problem since they need Tom’s body to prove he’s dead. They try sending Bradan to recover it but as soon as he sees the alien he runs away screaming.

They put out an ad on the local TV station offering $300,000 reward to whoever can recover the body. This brings a wide variety of greedy armed idiots to the junkyard and Rita and Meghan make all of them sign release forms and take a Polaroid of each of them before letting them loose in the junkyard. The main stars of the alien hunt are a hard ass priest Father Mazullo (Roddy Piper), Linnea Gold (Adrienne LaValley) an exotic dancer with a mysterious past, Brooklyn Davis (Jeremy London) a sleazy thieving backstabbing lowlife and Deborah Dallas (Sari Gagnon) an evil manipulative woman who unconvincingly tries to act all helpless and innocent but she fools no-one.

Meanwhile the heavily armoured alien gets busy putting down defences around the junkyard while it searches around the junkyard finding materials to repair his spaceship. They have come up quite a few nasty ways to kill people in this film. There are slugs that come out an alien pod and worm into people’s bodies, eating them from inside out, there’s an underground robot shark, a killer robot, a deadly force field and various nasty traps as well as the alien itself.

Early on it is clear that anyone can die and by the end of the film almost all of them do. One character gets a bit of a back story only to get wiped out quickly. Kids, soldiers, rednecks, baseball teams, football teams all come and get killed off. A crowd of locals have gathered on hill next to the junkyard watching the entertainment and making bets on how long each of the idiots who take on the alien will last.

This film is tasteless stupid fun and never takes itself too seriously. It uses a mixture of physical effects and CGI but it doesn’t get too carried away with the CGI. The cast all act up to their stereotypes and have fun doing it. If you are looking for something intelligent and layered with meanings you need to decipher this is really not the film to find that.

Rating 6.5/10

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Posted by on June 27, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: The Thing (2011)

This prequel to John Carpenter’s classic science fiction horror film The Thing has confusingly adopted the same name as Carpenter’s film. It got a bit of a mixed reception when it came out and so I waited for the Bluray release to see it at home. This prequel really pays a lot of respect to the original film while still telling its own story. The film-makers have gone to some trouble make sure that the events in this film match up with what they discovered at the Norwegian camp in the original. If you are familiar with e original then there is very little that is new here but I still found it very enjoyable.

In Antarctica three Norwegians are driving their Snowcat across the ice searching for a strange signal they have detected back at their base camp. They stop at the location where the signal is strongest when suddenly the ice cracks and gives away beneath them and the Snowcat plunges down into the crack until it comes to a top, wedged tight in the crack. The men inside look down into the darkness and see a massive spaceship buried in the ice.

Next we get introduced to our main character Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who is a palaeontologist. Her associate Adam Finch (Eric Christian Olsen) introduces her to Dr Sander Halvorson (Ulrich Thomsen) who is the head of the Norwegian research base in Antarctica  and he needs her help but of course he doesn’t tell her there and then why. It isn’t until they get to Antarctica that Halvorson shows them the enormous space craft then eventually shows them the alien they found frozen the ice a small distance away from the ship. Time is critical because there is a storm approaching in a couple of days and the pilot of the helicopter Sam Carter (Joel Edgerton) wants away before it hits so they cut out a block of ice containing the creature and take it back to their base. Halvorson wants a tissue sample and ignores Kate’s warning that it might contaminate the sample. Drilling into the bock to take the sample cracks the ice and weakens it.

They all go back to the mess hall and celebrate the discovery in typical Norwegian fashion by drinking lots of booze and singing and dancing to Norwegian folk songs. Carter’s co-pilot Jameson (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) takes a break from the boozing and goes for a stroll down to look at the alien and we see that the ice is melting rapidly. The creature suddenly explodes out of the ice, breaks through the ceiling and escapes. We don’t get a good look at it but it looked vaguely like the xenomorph from Alien.

Halvorson wants the creature captured so he organises everyone into pairs to search for it. The unfortunate pair Peder and Olav who find the creature get attacked and the creature swallows Peder whole into its massive maw. Everyone else arrives and there is general panic as some want the creature killed and Halvorson doesn’t. Finally they bring out the flame thrower and burn the thing to death.

The smouldering remains are carried into the lab with Peder’s legs still poking out of the mouth. Halvorson starts cutting the creature open much to everyone else’s disgust, not so much at the autopsy but at his casual attitude to their dead colleague. Kate reluctantly assists him and they cut Peder’s body out of the rubbery tissue enclosing him. Kate notices a strange translucent quality to the man’s skin and is puzzled to find a metal orthopaedic plate lying next to the body. His colleagues confirm that he had a compound fracture in his arm which does not explain why it’s now outside his body.

They now turn their attention to Olav who was injured in the attack. He needs medical treatment so Sam, Jameson and Grimes agree to take him in the helicopter to McMurdo Sound. Meanwhile Kate is examining tissue from the creature and Peder under a microscope and sees the alien cells consuming then imitating the human cells. She shows it to Adam who isn’t sure about her conclusion first that the alien tissue is still alive then that it is imitating what it consumes. When she goes to the bathroom she finds metal tooth fillings lying on the floor and a shower full of blood. She hears the helicopter starting up and quickly realises that they can’t let the helicopter leave. She rushes out and waves frantically at Carter who has just taken off. Carter decides to land and that’s when the creature in the back of the helicopter bursts out of it human shell and attacks. The helicopter goes out of control and crashes in the distance.

Everyone is upset about the helicopter crashing, especially as it’s their only transport away from the base (apart from the Snowcats). Kate tries to tell them that alien consumes animals (including humans) and then imitates them but Halvarson doesn’t listen and Adam doesn’t back her up. It soon becomes academic as they realise Kate is correct very quickly and they have no idea who they can trust since anyone can be an alien creature.

As someone who is a fan of the original film I thought this did a great job creating this prequel and I appreciated the effort they went to. The special effects are a quite a nice combination of physical models and CG and they take it step further than the original one did.

Rating 7.5/10

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Super 8

This film really has been noted by many reviewers as an homage to the type of family adventure film that Steven Spielberg made his own in the 80s and that really is what J.J. Abrams and Spielberg have delivered,

A group of junior high school boys are creating a film with the intention of entering it into a competition. They talk an older girl from their school Alice Dainard (Elle Fanning) into acting in the film and she also drives them to a disused train station to shoot a scene. When they see a train coming Charles (Riley Griffiths) the writer/director gets them to rush into action to take advantage of the train hurtling past to give their film some realism. Joe (Joel Courtney) sees a truck drive onto the track and deliberately head for the train. The crash is spectacular with metal flying all around as Alice and boys run for safety. Once the chaos dies down and things stop exploding Joe sees something smash its way out of one rail-car and escape into the night but he doesn’t get a good look at it.

Incredibly they find the truck driver is still alive but badly hurt and that he’s their science teacher Dr Woodard (Glynn Turman). When he comes round he is very agitated and he warns them that they mustn’t let anyone else know they saw any of this as it would put both themselves and their families in danger.  A load of military vehicles appear and Alice insists on leaving right away before they get caught.

Time to back up a bit because much more has happened that I’ve skipped. The film opens at a factory with one of those signs counting the number of days since the last accident and we see a number in the 4000s taken down and replaced by the number 1. Next we are at Joe’s house after the funeral of Joe’s mother. Joe is outside alone while his friends are inside with other guests eating and Charles is worried about Joe’s involvement in his film project. Alice’s father Dainard (Ron Eldard) drives up to the house and enters. Moments later Joe’s father Jackson Lamb (Kyle Chandler) is angrily pushing Dainard back out of the house and arresting him. The reactions of anger and guilt fuelled by grief are more important part of this film than the story of the alien creature.

The film blends this drama with typical elements of a science fiction thriller. The military are all over the crash site and denying there was anything dangerous on the train. Next they are all over the town searching for something. Jackson is the town’s deputy sheriff and he’s kept busy investigating people and dogs disappearing and lot strange thefts. The sheriff himself is one of those who has gone missing leaving Jackson in charge. Meanwhile Joe is  trying to find out more about the crash,  much to the frustration of Charles who wants to use presence military in the town in his film.

The scenes with the young actors are really nice with some great dialogue and lot of humour. The adult characters are a bit more thinly drawn and other than Jackson we don’t really get to see them do very much, other than get in way. The military are the bad guys with secrets they are willing to kill to keep which is typical in a lot of 80s films involving aliens that this film is an homage to. There were lots of nice touches that fixed the film in the late 1970s such as the film technology the boys used, the Super 8 film

When the alien finally appears it is grey coloured CGI. It’s not good or evil, just angry, hungry and desperate to get home but we don’t get to know very much about it. The start of this film is really great but the ending is a bit of a let-down. I strongly recommend this film because the strong start is worth watching even if it tends to fizzle out at the end.

Rating 7/10

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2011 in Entertainment, Film

 

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