Blu-ray
For Kids Only
3 stars
Overall Grade
3 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
2 Stars
HD Video Quality
4 Stars
HD Audio Quality
3.5 Stars
Supplements
1.5 Stars
High-Def Extras
1 Stars
Bottom Line
For Kids Only

Aliens in the Attic

Street Date:
November 3rd, 2009
Reviewed by:
Nate Boss
Review Date: 1
November 18th, 2009
Movie Release Year:
2009
Studio:
20th Century Fox
Length:
86 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

Logical conclusion: If any species can develop technology to travel the galaxy logistically, then they could easily destroy humanity without effort, be it from their craft, or with their (naturally) other advanced technologies. They could go in guns (or ray guns, whatever) blazing and wipe out humanity one at a time, or slowly create a world so inept and stupid through years of mind numbing experience that no fight is necessary. In that line of thought, I present 'Aliens in the Attic,' which just may be the first step in helping to make the world a dumber place, ready to be conquered.

Harsh as that may be, 'Aliens in the Attic' is a kids movie that, despite having some great adult actors, refuses to give anything to the adults who will be forced to watch the film with their spawn, setting its sights solely on the pre-teen crowds. It's not easy to respect a film for its particular merits when it refuses to acknowledge your existence (There are more people in the world than tweeners, thank goodness).

When the Pearson family goes on vacation for the Fourth of July, the children find anything but rest, as a group of four aliens invades the house. Tom (Carter Jenkins), Jake (Austin Robert Butler), Hannah (Ashley Boettcher) and the twins (Henri and Regan Young) have to match wits with the extraterrestrials, using crude weapons against space age technology. Bethany (Ashley Tisdale) is having problems with her boyfriend Ricky (Robert Hoffman) in part due to the aliens controlling Ricky's actions. In one day, the youthful teens will have to defeat the invading aliens and in the process prevent a full alien invasion, all while staying out of trouble with their parents as the rental house acts as the battlefield.

Goodness gracious. After the narrow focus of tweener hit '17 Again,' I wasn't ready for another kid-oriented vehicle for the next batch of kid stars. I really got caught with my hands tied (and my eyes forced open) with this one, as the 82 minute runtime dragged on for what felt like an eternity.

Adults are, as is cliche in kids films, treated like ignorant fools, who cannot do a thing to help the heroes. I like the way the film handled this, by having the Zirkonian (the species of the aliens) mind control weapons only work on adults, but every shot involving someone who has already reached puberty featured them acting ignorant and annoying, like the stereotypical bad movie parents. Their talents are utterly wasted, as they just play generic parental roles with no real character. If these were mere B-movie character actors, that would be one thing, but to ignore Andy Richter, Gillian Vigman, Kevin Nealon (from 'Weeds'), and Doris Roberts is insane. Ignoring Tim Meadows, though, is perfectly acceptable.

But Doris Roberts gets something to do. Kung Fu grandma. I wish that were a joke. When she is targeted by the Zirkonians, her control pad (like a game!) is taken by the children, as the invaders control the irritating Ricky in a fight to the finish, a one sided butt stomping (gotta stay clean mouthed in family fare reviews...) featuring some moves awfully reminiscent of the 'Street Fighter' characters Ryu and Ken. The only thing missing was fire coming from her palms. Even the trade mark Shoryuken and and "Tornado Whirlwind Kick" are utilized by the gimpy grandma, as she does what I wish I could do in whooping the most annoying character in the film.

This movie is generic, with the typical, played out story lines, like the repentant alien who befriends the humans (no, that's not a spoiler), and the lessons to be learned about family, including the beyond sappy ending scenes. The Zirkonians were so generic, with no real distinct or unique personalities, and were beyond predictable. You have three tough looking ones with sharp teeth and tough looking gear, and a doe eyed softer looking alien who wants to talk and be friendly towards humans. I doubt even children will be surprised by what progresses with this particular alien...

'Aliens in the Attic' may entertain the children in the house, and give an adult an hour and a half worth of relaxation while the film babysits for them, but I can't imagine this film being universally praised and warranting repeat viewings even from the most easily entertained younglings. It's a shame, as the child acting here was actually quite acceptable, and not at all annoying.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

'Aliens in the Attic' crash lands on Blu-ray with an AVC MPEG-4 transfer that isn't demo worthy, but also isn't as dusty and forgettable as some random worn out pile of junk that got thrown up in an attic.

Colors are out of this world, with some very stellar fine object detail. Skin tones are anything but alien, though they do sometimes appear as if they've been in far too close an orbit to the sun. Blacks are appropriate, with strong delineation, while edges are clean, and there doesn't appear to be any artificial scrubbing. There was some aliasing issues in the Zirkonian outfits (which are a fine woven pattern), and a whole galaxy's worth of noise, which was a bit distracting. Every pun in that paragraph, I'm so very, very sorry for.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

I'll admit I really didn't expect much in the audio department from 'Aliens in the Attic,' as most kid oriented movies aren't treated with the same expectations. I'll say that the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix afforded the film did a great job presenting the material, but doesn't really seem to put out the best effort.

Dialogue is clear and consistent, never spiked with feedback or other detracting elements, while constantly being the primary focus of the track, never overpowered. Some of the lines were tough for me to understand, but that was due to some pronunciation issues from the child actors. Bass activity was somewhat underpowered, considering some of the action on screen. It plays a nice accent in the few soundtrack moments, but for the most part it's a hair weak. There's not much going on for ambiance, or rear activity, as there is some localization (and very little movement), but for the most part the film stays front and center.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

Don't be fooled by how expansive the list of extras appears on paper, as that's how thin they all are.

  • Introduction to film with Ashley Tisdale (HD, 1 min) - Yeah, umm, what was the point of that, exactly? Other than the request I grab a blanket, all I heard was blah blah blah.
  • Introduction to Special Features with Ashley Tisdale (HD, 1 min) - At least this time she details what is in store, but again, beyond pointless.
  • Introduction to Alter....Alternate Ending (HD, 2 min) - An alternate ending to the film, complete with both finished and unfinished effects.
  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 3 min) - A few scenes that didn't make the film, thankfully.
  • Gag Reel (HD, 5 min) - A standard gag reel, full of flubs, mistakes, intentional gags, and so on. The wheel is not reinvented here.
  • Behind the Zirkonians (HD, 15 min) - A cartoon focusing on the alien race from the film, that plays much more like a clunky animated comic. This one is a bit painful, but may be enjoyable for very young children. Very young children.
  • Meet the Zirkonians - Profiles for Tazer, Sparks, Skip, and Razor, with selectable attributes that pop up videos relating to each character.
  • The Ashley Encounters (HD, 4 min) - A behind the scenes experience with Tisdale.
  • Lights, Camera, Aliens! (HD, 9 min) - A making of featurette, as it were, with actor and crew insights and experiences. This one gets much deeper than previous extras, but still only skims the surface as the extras try to stay kid friendly.
  • Kung Fu Grandma (SD, 1 min) - Hey, that almost rhymes with panda. A commercial for the technology in the film.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

There's some high-def exclusive loot to be found, too, though again, it's not exactly deep stuff.

  • Music Video (HD, 1 min) - A video for Brian Anthony's Electricity, loaded with clips of the film, rather than the musician, with a shot indicator at the bottom of the screen.
  • Fox Movie Channel Presents: Life After Film School with Barry Josephson (SD, 27 min) - An episode of the film oriented television program, sitting down with producer Barry Josephson. I've never been a fan of this program, as it is so excessively dull and self-promotive, and found this episode to be no different.
  • Digital Copy - The second disc in this set includes a Digital Copy of the film, offering both portability and a free coaster to protect much more valuable furniture.

Final Thoughts

I can't say I was a fan of this film, though I can see it possibly being enjoyed by its target audience (even that, I'm not solely convinced of). The film squanders potential, with Disney Channel style villains who rate a zero on the scare factor. This Blu-ray is anything but scary, with very good video and solid, but tame, audio, and a supplement feature that looks far deeper than it really is. Adults, leave the room, or at least enter this one with some fluid encouragement (ahem, ahem). If you want to experience this one with the kids, you may need it.

Technical Specs

  • Blu-ray
  • BD50 Dual Layer Disc
  • Region A Locked

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/AVC MPEG-4

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 1.85:1

Audio Formats

  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • French Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles/Captions

  • English SDh
  • Spanish
  • French
  • Portuguese
  • Cantonese
  • Thai

Supplements

  • Introduction to the film with Ashley Tisdale
  • The Ashley Encounters
  • Deleted scenes
  • Gag reel
  • Behind the Zirkonians
  • Meet the Zirkonians

Exclusive HD Content

  • Digital Copy
  • Music Video
  • Life After Filmschool

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