It’s No Fun, Being an (Illegal) Alien Outpost…
In a rare moment of not having any pressing duties this weekend, I sat down and watched Alien Outpost. I don’t know what possessed me, other than free space in my Netflix queue. I mean – what a stupid title, right? Why they changed it from Outpost 37 I’ll never know (although maybe the total ten seconds you get to see of the aliens wasn’t enough to clue most movie-goers into what the film was about).
And the characters, right off the bat, were all ridiculously cheesy stereotypes. Gruff-speaking commander with short temper who loves his men and willing to buck orders? Check! Strong black guy with cool nickname? Check! Buff dudes who wear flak jackets over bare nipples like they’ve never heard of chafing? CHECK AND CHECK!
I could probably write about 20 pages about the silly flaws, lack of logic and over-the-top acting. Hell, the visual effects were straight out of a 1980s made-for-tv-not-even-good-enough-for-SyFy-channel-special. I mean, look at the trailer. Cheese city, right? And then you’ve got the oddly sometimes-a-documentary, sometimes-an-invisible-cameraman cinematography going on. There’s the dreaded confession cams that are filmed in a nice, dark room with soft lighting that would make MTV’s Real World directors weep. And somehow, 20 years in the future, they still can’t email important documents and have to drive 20 miles to hand-deliver them.
But… as a fan of Restrepo, I was interested in the premise: an alien invasion takes place, but we manage to drive them off-planet except for pockets of their “heavies” – tough, armored giants that are held up in remote areas. The USDF (United Space Defense Force)” established a number of outposts to guard against these heavies, but they also seem to come under attack from the locals (ungrateful shits that they are).
The soldiers at these outposts are straight out of every war movie ever, with bare-chested (but flak-jacket wearing), “man the 50!” heroics, who sit around playing cards and playing jokes on each other when not being shot at (which is probably the most true-to-life acting to come across in the whole script).
And then for some reason this group of soldiers from all over the world gets angry when a German soldier is sent as a replacement for one of their wounded members… because even though there’s this alien threat, screw Nazis, AmIRight?
So it’s this weird blend of Platoon, Dirty Dozen, the aforementioned Restrepo, and maybe the Battle: Los Angeles silliness, only with less of a budget, so let’s move the whole set to the backwoods of Afghanistan, because we can film the whole thing in a valley of South Africa and call it even!
Now that we have all the ingredients for a TERRIBLE SyFy movie, let’s fire up the funeral pyre and toast this mother!
Only… I actually liked this movie. I’m not nominating it for an Oscar by any means. But I think the idea was pretty clever, and it makes me think of those Gord-awful shit shows that now-famous directors cut their teeth on. Only this movie made me think that Jabbar Raisani, the film’s writer and director, really does have talent and a promising future. I would definitely like to see what he could do with a big budget and production values.
Raisani has some great experience in the visual effects field, having done Fx work on Game of Thrones – including some of the most bad-ass scenes in the entire show, during the attack on Hardhome.
So no, this isn’t a great movie. But it’s pretty enjoyable, and you can definitely get a whiff of some great talent in there. It’s worth watching both for the merging of solid premises with new flavors, and also so that when Raisani has his (soon to be) big break, you can get all hipster and say, “Yeah, but I loved his work since Alien Outpost…”