Review: Alien Outpost

Usually I like to lead the reader on with a review saving my end all be all thoughts about the material being reviewed, until the very end. I’m not going to do that with Alien Outpost; the reason is so that you can finish the review and understand why when I say, “it’s pretty good”, it doesn’t come off as overly simplistic or me shying away from a seemingly hard review. It’s pretty good.

The premise is that this is a post invasion world. The entire earth was previously invaded by aliens referred to as “Heavy” or “Heavies” if you will, but we were able to push them back… but not completely. There are still cells of Heavies spread throughout the globe, but for the most part life has returned to normal for the general populace. The war is over for most people with the exception of soldiers still apart of the global army that is manning different outposts set up all over the planet. These outposts are neglected, underfunded and understaffed. And that is where the film picks up at Outpost 37 as three new soldiers are sent to join their ranks and a documentary crew follows them.

With that said can you guess that this is a found footage style of film? In fact it’s hard to call it a found footage film since no one is finding the footage per say and the camera men/reporter are the least believable aspect of the entire film. They only talk when it’s convenient to remind you that they’re there and they are so fearless that they stay with the action and fighting every step of the way getting all the right shots.

AlienOutpost_poster1It’s the part of the film that doesn’t work and honestly gets a little distracting because the rest of the time you forget they are there. The camera doesn’t shake constantly in fact it’s pretty steady. There’s no awkward shots of “hey we’re not supposed to film this, but we’re going to do it subtly.” In fact there’s only one shot in which the camera falls, but it lands perfectly allowing for the scene to go on… just don’t ask how they recovered the footage. Don’t ask how they kept the batteries charged and dodged all the gun fire. The soldiers may be tough, but these guys eat nails for breakfast and never drop the shot.

The part that does work incredibly well is the sci-fi element. Sure they use the documentary style text screens to lay everything out, but you know what… it works. Normal sci-fi movies do the same thing, but there it feels lazy and unjustified. Here it actually made it believable that we were watching a documentary. The aliens are interesting and the fact that they move at a slow and methodical pace makes them extremely menacing when an entire squadron of soldiers retreat at the sight of just one Heavy. The aliens and the sci-fi elements are a shining light.

As for the story it’s nothing new, but the commentary on war and in particular the wars in the Middle East are interesting. Neglected, underfunded and understaffed… sound like anything in real life? The entire battle is social commentary and its good commentary because it doesn’t blame anyone it just comments. It is, what it is. The only character I had a problem with was the Captain because he was conveniently missing whenever the story called for it and out on missions he stood out which is something that would be a no-no since you don’t want your commanding officer to be a target.

Personally this movie would have been a lot better if the found footage angle had been taken off. If it had instead been incorporated into the film and the two journalist characters were given the same minor role it would have worked about the same. Instead it comes across as a first person shooter, but you never get a gun. The documentary part works, but the found footage part doesn’t.

Lastly I want to cover the acting because it is a movie about soldiers which are a cinema favorite. Sadly there’s nothing new brought to the table and for the most part everyone is playing an archetype and nothing more. There are still some solid performances with the exception of one soldier whose title escapes me, but basically he was the medical officer. Everything he did was over the top and felt like acting… which is the last thing you want in a found footage film. Hell it’s really the last thing you want in a movie period because it’s supposed to be natural. Everyone else may be archetypes, but they were good archetypes. This dude was just a bit too “on” for the movie.

Again I say it’s pretty good. I liked it. I may even watch it again because I really did like the sci-fi world that they created. The mystery around what the remaining aliens were up to was interesting. Interesting enough that I would follow another story set in this world.

Score: 3/5

Director: Jabbar Raisani Writers: Blake Clifton, Jabbar Raisani Genre: Action/Sci-Fi Distributor: IFC Midnight