I’m sorry to say we’re at the end of another season here at the ISCFC, and that season is “Jason London films with Area 51 in the title, where he goes down a long slide at one point”. As soon as more movies are released to cope with the demand for this hottest of all genres, you can be sure we’ll be here to review them.
It’s SyFy, it’s one alien fighting another, different alien on Earth, it ticks a lot of boxes. But sadly it’s really quite dumb, and I’m not sure why. The basic gist of things is your classic race against time plot with a few interesting sprinkles on top – London is Jake Townsend, the slightly alcoholic black sheep of the family, whose brother dies defending what appears to be a “wildlife preserve” (but is really Area 51, I guess we’re supposed to believe). Jake used to work there too, before being discharged for reasons unknown, so he goes to find out what’s going on.
Turns out, an alien called Jude (Coby Bell) is after the MacGuffin Rod, which will turn off the Omega Seed, which will save the Earth from being destroyed – it’s due to go off quite soon, I guess. It also turns out that another alien, Kronnan, a great hulking fellow, is also after it, and he also wants to save the human race. Or does he? Or is Omega the villain? With lots of fights between the two, and with them facing off against the might of the US Army (aka a weak-looking fool and about 50 guys), you have plenty of time to figure it out. Oh, and the Rod only has five gems but needs six, so they have to go to a junkyard and talk to the friendly and extremely knowledgeable owner to get it. There’s a weird bit where Diamond Joe, the junkyard owner, looks at Jude (who’s black) and makes a reference to “your kind”, which elicited some sharply drawn breaths…but it turns out “your kind” is aliens! Phew!
Also sucked into this race against time / mystery of who to believe is Monica Gray (Gigi Edgeley, “Farscape”), who’s Jake’s ex-girlfriend. Turns out, she did some work on decoding the MacGuffin Rod back when they both worked at Area 51, but when the powers that be found out about it, Jake took the rap for her, with one of the provisos being he could never speak to her again. Not sure how they’d have enforced that, but okay? So we think he was a flake who messed up his relationship, but he’s actually the most stand-up of all stand-up guys. Although, when he runs a roadblock later on in the movie, he straight-up kills the main Army guy by running him over, so even though he saved the world, I’m thinking a nice long time in a jail cell is in his immediate future.
Quite a bit of the final third of the movie is wondering which alien is actually evil, and which is lying. But the problem is, it’s extremely obvious which one will end up being the good guy, so it’s a lot of time wasted for no good reason. Kronnan helps out a little kid stuck on a swing-set, and justifies his actions at one point, but then forgets to speak for the rest of the time and just grunts as he’s attacking whoever. Not a great sign. Kronnan’s race apparently feeds off pollution, so when Monica quite reasonably asks “why don’t they just ask nicely for it?” Jude replies “they don’t negotiate, they destroy”. Seems a very wasteful way of doing things, honestly. Invading takes a lot of time and money, asking for an entire planet’s pollution would be simple and quick, and make you a new friend. Aliens, eh, with their weird plans.
Taking the ending into account, where we see a huge force of ships in orbit round Earth, sent home when our heroes save the day (the subtitles say “invasion has been cancelled! Everyone home!”), they’re really pretty stupid aliens. You’d think they’d hang around a bit, having come that far, even if just to find out why the Omega Seed was deactivated. But no, they’re an entire race of people who suddenly remembered they left the oven on at home.
It’s cheap, too (when cars fall over in the junkyard due to laser blasts, you can clearly see the person in the background shoving them), but rips along and has a few fun moments to keep you interested, should you find it playing one evening. London and Edgeley are both fine, too (and there’s an excellent cameo from the most stoned stoner I’ve ever seen)…plus, it has a slight personal resonance, being filmed in and around St Louis, my soon-to-be home (yes, dear reader, one part of the ISCFC will be relocating to the Midwest of the USA soon).
Rating: thumbs in the middle