The good news is, “Xtro 3” is better than “Xtro 2”. But, watching a compilation video of cats being sick is better than “Xtro 2”, so it’s an extremely low bar to clear (can you call it a “bar to clear” when it’s below ground level?) And once again, it has absolutely nothing in common with either of its prequels – the aliens look and behave differently, no returning cast members, no similar locations, not a remotely similar plot.
There’s even what could be called a promising start, as a jokey old newsreel video introduces the movie. This brief moment of optimism will come to feel like a mouthful of cold ashes, though, so don’t get used to it. Robert Culp, who must have really needed the money, looks suitably embarrassed to have his military office in the middle of an empty warehouse as he gives orders to…you know what? I can’t remember his name, and there are two similar-looking guys in the IMDB listing. Let’s call him Captain Dull. So, Captain Dull gets sent to an island which has apparently been left off all the maps and unvisited for 50 years, in order to get rid of all the unexploded WW2 bombs there, preparing it for being turned into a refuelling station.
He’s given the four worst fuck-ups in the Army to help him, along with a shady-looking Naval Intelligence guy, played by Andrew Divoff, and his assistant (who I’m pretty sure was called Watkins, which would make her Karen Moncrieff, now better known as a director and wishing she could wipe all traces of this movie from the historical record). And then the movie turns into “Predator”, a change from the last movie, which ripped off “Aliens”. Which one of the “Xtro” sequels is more blatant in its theft is a question I shall leave you to answer, dear reader.
There’s a large concrete block on the island with some aliens inside it, and while they’re pretty annoyed at being on Earth and having experiments done on them, aren’t the sharpest tools in the box. Example? Well, right at the end they get in their apparently space-worthy ship, located under the concrete block, and head off home…when they could have done that at literally any moment since the island was abandoned. Seriously, the Army guys have absolutely nothing to do with them escaping. When Divoff brings in a bunch of black-clad killers to take out the Army guys and the aliens, I just thought “why didn’t he do this in the beginning?”, as much as I could be bothered to have coherent thoughts by that point in the movie.
Oh, I’d forgotten the framing device, which is Captain Dull, having escaped from the island, trying to get a journalist to believe his story (he has photographs and papers he managed to take). Just to really leave you feeling miserable, he fails, the journalist calls in the police, and the last we see of him, he’s being carted away to a high-security psychiatric hospital. Hurrah for humanity!
You really don’t need much more than this to tell you not to watch the movie. As honest as I think director Harry Bromley Davenport is about these movies, that doesn’t make them any better, and while this one isn’t quite as bad as part 2, it’s still really bad. Captain Dull, whoever he is, is a terrible leading man, and Divoff is the sole bright spark among the male actors, taking his part remarkably seriously. It’s merely an early example of a “people walking through the woods” movie, the kind we cheap movie connoisseurs have come to know and “love”.
I’ll leave with a feminist critique of this movie, and it might not be something you’d ever considered, but when you start thinking about it I guarantee you’ll notice it all over. There are two main female characters, the aforementioned Watkins and Banta (Andrea Lauren Herz), and they’re both trained military personnel. It’s all about the way the genders deal with getting injured or seeing their friends killed. Both women start crying, trying to find a man to hug, and completely breaking down; the men want to angrily seek revenge, or shout at the heavens, or whatever. Why are women portrayed in this way? Why are they seen as “less than” in these situations? It’s subtle, but it still sucks. This is, of course, leaving aside that Divoff smacks Watkins around on several occasions, leaving her sobbing on the ground (one time, after she abandons the building of a raft to get them off the island to go skinny-dipping with one of the soldiers, because women must be sexually available at all times, tee hee!) You’d think this physical abuse would make her a cert to survive, but no!
The more I think about this movie, the less I like it. Mean-spirited, stupid and pointless.
Rating: thumbs down