Alien OutpostOverview -
Set in 2021, Alien Outpost is the story of the aftermath of the First Earth War , in which an invading race of aliens known as the Heavies are narrowly defeated. But thousands of the aliens were left behind, and a new war on terror now rages. In the wake of the war, a series of remote operating bases are created to defend the planet, with the deadliest being base Three Seven, positioned in the most hostile place on Earth.
A documentary film crew is sent to record daily life in Outpost Three Seven, where the men, led by hardened commander Captain Spears (Rick Ravanello, Dark Haul), are under constant enemy fire. When a member of the crew disappears during a Heavy ambush, the unit launches a raid deep into enemy territory to rescue him… only to make a terrifying discovery.
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
Sometimes a movie fails to recognize what it truly is and can become blinded by aspirations of being something more meaningful and profound. When you have a basic concept of something like a cyborg from the future sent to the past to kill the mother of the resistance leader before he's born - you don't wan't to over cook the story with a convoluted preachy message. When you've got a standard alien invasion flick, it's good to just be an alien invasion movie and not try to stretch the thin premise past the point an even thinner budget can execute. 'Alien Outpost' is sadly the latter of those two scenarios. It's a captivating idea that is overstuffed with grandiose themes while being undercut by slim budget.
In the near future, an Alien race nicknamed "Heavies" because of their massive size have invaded earth. Right out of the gate they wipe out cities and kill millions of humans. Just when the world was on the brink of total annihilation, humans managed to find a way to fight back and start killing these lumbering giants with super-powered laser guns. Mankind turned the tide of the war and put the Heavies on their heels forcing them into small clusters in remote areas where they can't possibly cause much damage to the surviving humans. After several years, mankind has basically returned to normal. Cities have been rebuilt. An orbiting defense grid has been put in place to prevent future invasions, and the remaining Heavies are hiding out in the outskirts of humanity. Thinly manned, under funded and under supplied outposts were setup to ward off any further Heavy activity.
Outpost 37 in Iran is one such outpost. A documentary film crew is assigned to follow three new additions to the outpost. The men are about as green as green can get. They've seen little if any combat and have no actual experience fighting the Heavies. On top of the alien activity in the region, the local population is tired of having foreign troops living on their land and stage numerous attacks on the small compound. As the new recruits arrive, the camera crew becomes witness to some of the fiercest fighting the planet has seen in over a decade. The men will come to question their mission and themselves - and confess their deepest, darkest feelings on camera.
So 'Alien Outpost' is basically 'Skyline' with a smaller budget. Part of the biggest problem with this movie is its own structure as a pseudo documentary. This is problematic for the story, the pacing, as well as numerous continuity issues. Whenever one of the relatively nameless soldiers goes in for their "confessional" session that's right out of some sad reality TV show, they speak of events that are just unfolding on screen in the past tense. Right there, that aspect kills dead any and all building tension. We know the outcome of a scene before the scene even has a chance to get going. On top of that, the repeated confessional interruptions stops any story momentum. If the guys being "interviewed" don't spoil a scene, they're talking about something we already saw and the whole endeavor becomes an exorcise in repetition. Then you have various continuity issues. If what we're watching as an audience is supposed to be the assembled footage that the documentarians shot, the camera men have the magic power of disappearing from one shot to the next. Sometimes they're visible in the reverse shot, some times they're not making this movie a game of "spot the continuity error." I appreciate what director Jabbar Raisanai was going for with this movie, but I can't help but feel like the tried and true found footage approach would have worked better than a faux documentary.
I will say that 'Alien Outpost' is a marginal step better than 'Monsters: Dark Continent' - but just barely. Both movies fall into the thematic pitfall of trying to tie in entirely too much real world allegory for their own good. Where 'Monsters: Dark Continent' dealt with the perils of an insurgency, 'Alien Outpost' seems intent on reflecting upon the rise of extremist groups like Islamic State and Al-Qaeda becoming a coordinated effort. This sort of material is the kind of material classic sci-fi is made of - when it's in the right hands. In this case, it's a cast off plot device that really isn't explored as the film lumbers from one shaky-cam filmed shoot out to the next. I would have loved to have spent a lot more time in this near-future world, get to know the characters better and see some of the aliens clearer than the skimpy CGI effects allowed for.
'Alien Outpost' is just one of those movies that you get a full understanding of and see all of the coming plot beats inside the first few minutes. Once you get the mechanics of the story and its structure, there are few surprises by the end. When a random character all of a sudden gets a lot of camera time - it's a clear indicator they're going to die very shortly. This is a movie that feels like a proof of concept movie, the kind of thing you show potential backers for a different project to convince them you're capable of pulling off a bigger, better budgeted film. 'Alien Outpost' would have served as an excellent short - but as a feature film it feels stretched and didn't hold my interest the way I'd hoped it would; it felt a lot longer than 92 minutes.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Alien Outpost' arrives on Blu-ray from Scream Factory and IFC midnight. Pressed on a BD50 disc, the disc is housed in a standard case with slip cover. Inside there is reversible artwork.
Given the filming style designed to mimic a documentary, the video transfer for this 1.85:1 1080p transfer is strong if a tad problematic. Given the HD video source, the image quality can lead to some striking and effective detail and black levels. When things switch over to more handheld, rougher looking video - there is tons of motion blur and video noise. Of course these results are in a measure by intension considering the film itself, but it makes for an inconsistent look. Colors overall are pretty good, most of the film has a golden hue to them that offers a lot of pop. Black levels as a whole are very good, day light scenes allow for some great shadows and presence of three dimensional depth. Night time shots are overall strong, but drift into some crush issues. Overall it's a solid video presentation and fans should be pleased.
Whether you choose to rock the DTS-HD MA 7.1 or DTS-HD MA 2.0 track - your sound system is going to have a fun time keeping up with 'Alien Outpost.' The 2.0 track is strong and gets a lot of life out of it, but the real winner is the 7.1 track - if your sound system can handle it. Imaging is actually very strong here. Much of the movie is presented without actually seeing what these guys are really shooting at - that leaves the sound to sell the action. Audio elements travel the channels nicely and present a fantastic sense of atmosphere. The dynamic range is pretty solid over all, the low tones made my subwoofer rattle on its self a bit, but thankfully there wasn't any distorting effects. Both tracks get the job done.
Audio Commentary: Director/ Co-Writer Jabbar Raisani and DP/Co-Writer Blake Clifton talk about the production, getting the shoot together, shooting the action sequences.
Interviews With Cast and Crew: (HD 16:23) Better than a typical EPK feature, shows a lot of behind the scenes material that is actually very interesting.
Deleted Scenes: (HD 3:22) Some of these scenes are pretty good, but it's pretty clear to see why they were cut.
Theatrical Trailers: (HD 3:40) a collection of trailers designed to bill the film as a documentary - it sells the flick well enough but shows the bulk of the most interesting scenes.
'Alien Outpost' is just one of those well meaning low budget sci-fi movies that bit off a bit more than it could actually chew. With a simplistic approach as a faux documentary it ends up undercutting any attempt to build tension or suspense making the film as a whole feel longer than its relatively short runtime. With a rock solid A/V presentation and a few decent extras, fans of the flick should be happy with this Blu-ray, but if you're new I encourage you to give it a rent first.
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