Sunday, January 9, 2011

Alien Lockdown (2004)

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Tagline:

It's time to prey.

Movie Review:

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First of all, you may have noticed I have dropped the "Back of DVD" part of the review. Unless it's funny for some reason, from now on I won't be putting it on my reviews; they tend to give too much of the plot away I find. I'd prefer to do that in my review if it's going to be done at all.

Alien Lockdown is a Nu Image production that was made for the Sci-Fi channel and stars John Savage (Soldier's Revenge) as a mad doctor, James Marshall as his wacky computer geek assistant and Michelle Goh (Out for a Kill with Steven Seagal) as the rough and ready Ripley.. I mean Talon.. who is doing "one last job" for the black ops army before retirement.

The movie starts with a history lesson; in 10,000 BC a meteor crashed to earth. Inside it was a chest that contained a green emerald thing. Apparently the power it yields can control armies, you know the story. The chest is rediscovered in an archaeological dig (think Stargate). Flash forward to the present and the Doctor is in his lab with a bunch of other scientists doing a demonstration of his new creation - an alien hybrid of all the most powerful animals on the planet, a genesis courtesy of the emerald and the decoding of its contained information by James Marshall's character. It has shell like skin that breaks scalpels on contact so you know it's tough. Assured by the good Doctor that it is pacified while in the lab (for some reason), of course the bloody thing gets loose and kills everyone, except the Doctor and James Marshall.

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That's when Michelle Goh as Rip-.. Talon is brought in with a team of army guys to do a "clean up" of the lab. That means blow it up and kill everyone. This is when it really becomes obvious that the producers wanted a half Predator movie and half Aliens movie. We get the scene in the helicopter where we meet all the tough army guys and Michelle Goh, like Schwarzenegger in that scene, just sits back and watches, not getting in on the hilarity and bonding. Once they land it switches into Aliens mode - lot's of stealthy walking around dark corridors with machine guns, lot's of military commands ("Flank left", "Cover the rear", "Watch those corners" - well some of those I may have taken straight from Aliens but you know what I'm talking about). They even have bleeping tracking monitors to locate the creature.

The movie proceeds exactly how a low budget reinterpretation of two famous movies squished together would. The black ops team bust in, find the Doctor and his geeky assistant, and keep getting attacked by the creature on the loose, losing team members one by one until only Michelle Goh remains. Oh come on I'm not giving anything away here; as soon as I said "Aliens" you all thought "Only Ripley lived through that, with one other guy and a robot".. well there is no robot here but Goh does make it to the end with one other guy, and the Doctor is nuts and obsessed with the creature the same way the android from the first Alien is ("I admire it's purity.") The horror element is fairly mild as this was made for TV, but there are a few close ups of bloodied bodies and and the creature chewing on human remains.

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Goh's character is done pretty well actually. Tough and emotionless from the outset, it's hinted at early on that she has feelings for one of the soldiers. He of course bites it and after his "leave me here" scene, she has a bit of a teary and explains to the one other survivor re: the other guy why this was her last job and why she is expendable. It's actually tactfully done and not cringeworthy like most emotional scenes in movies like this. Everyone else does a good job with their roles though there is nothing really to write home about, though John Savage's mad scientist is pretty effective, especially when he has a violent rant about how awesome it is that we are all going to die. Goh get's the best throw-away line, paraphrased from Predator: "If it can be penetrated, it can be killed." Oo-er.

The alien itself actually looks pretty good. Thankfully they went down the 'man in a suit' route like the aforementioned movies and not some CG abomination. The face is ripped off from the Predator and has the same mandibles but the skin and back and the way it moves are very Alien. Honestly it looks pretty good, though I'm sure the darkness helps masks any flaws. Later in the movie when the baby ones turn up they are done with average CG and look about as realistic as the swarms of scarab beetles in the Mummy movie (the awful one with Brendan Frasier). The CG helicopter at the beginning and end is a bit of a let down as well. The sound stage is pretty good too with lot's of realistic gun-firing, metal on metal sounds and the creature's roars.

I made it all the way through this, only checking the time to go once and an hour had passed at that point so that's pretty good. Surprisingly, if you are in the mood for something entirely derivative, Alien Lockdown comes recommended. Damn it, someone is cooking a steak outside my window and now I want one. That's nothing to do with this movie, I'm just on a roll here.

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The Video:

Unfortunately the Australian release DVD was trimmed from 1.78:1 to 1.33:1 and the 5.1 DD soundtrack muxed down to a stereo. Disappointing but the overall presentation is still pretty good. The single-layer disc does mean the bit-rate is a bit low which is evident in the early Iraq scenes and some of the dark scenes in the complex. Overall though not bad and the soundtrack is quite punchy. Runtime 88 minutes.

I'm feeling lazy today and happen to have a download of the widescreen DVD as well as my own DVD so I used that for the screenshots. I'm pretty sure that's the edition you get in the US actually so is more representative for buyers anyway.

Sourced From:

A video store fire-sale for about a dollar.

Trailer:

More Screens:

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2 comments:

  1. I've always been a John Savage guy, and he's great when he's crazy-- see The Thin Red Line for instance-- so that alone makes this intriguing. I'll have to check it out sometime.

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  2. I agree with the Connoisseur. Always wanted to watch it for the Savage factor, forgot about it for a while. Will rent it soon.

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