Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
I cued up director Neil Johnson's film 'Alien Dawn', partially because it has the word 'Alien' in its title and putting the words 'Alien' or 'Ninja' in the title of your movie is good way to get me to watch your movie.  Thus the movie 'Aliens vs. Ninja' was a no-brainer for us here at the FCU.  The other reason I cued up 'Alien Dawn' was because my close and personal friend Brooke Lewis is supposed to be in this movie.  Okay, so maybe Brooke isn't really my close personal friend but she did email because I got her name wrong in a review, I emailed her back to apologize and tell her I corrected it, then she emailed me again to thank me.  That's two emails.  That kind of makes us an item.  Thus imagine my disappointment to see Ms. Brooke only once in this movie.  That made me sad.  And I watched this all the way to the bitter end. 

DAY ONE: as the title card will read and the aliens have attacked.  As the movie starts out with the alien attack, director Johnson has all this static and bright flashes exploding on the screen, and my God was it annoying.  I think he was trying to brainwash me, but he failed because I don't have nearly enough brain to wash.  I win again.  Next we cue on Marissa, as played by actress Rachelle Dimaria, videotaping her alien attack diaries via her cell phone camera.  A couple of things about this, obviously Rachelle Dimaria takes really, really good care herself.  This is one supremely fit young woman.  And this cell phone of hers has the most awesome battery ever.  I didn't see her charge that thing once, not that she could anyway considering there's no electricity, but the phone kept going.

So the aliens are completely lighting us up, we can't do anything about it except try to futilely fight back, and the leader of this resistance is led by the extremely hostile Sera as played by actress Tiffany C. Adams.  A note about Ms. Adams, she obviously takes really, really good care of herself.  This is one supremely fit young woman.
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Eventually a couple of dudes from Sera's team, half brothers Anders (Alex Bell) and Roger (Michael Ambruscato) get separated from the rest of the squad and end up with Marissa and her new friend Joni (Cynthia Martin), and just so you know, this about the time where 'Alien Dawn' which was showing some promise as a bucket of entertaining, fast moving, low budget nonsense… comes to a screeching halt. 

Now, for the next… I don't know… half hour or more, we stay in an abandoned warehouse with Marissa, Alex and Roger while they bicker.  Joni won't be with us much longer since Roger gave her a jug of bleach to drink thinking it was water.  Roger is dumb.  Of course we could ask why was there an open container of bleach nearby where Joni was lying since I didn't see anybody mopping any floors in this warehouse, but we aren't going to ask that.  Also, bleach bottles are probably one the most recognizable bottle styles ever.  So people won't drink out them.  Roger is dumb.   Regardless of Rogers's slowness, we are kind of stuck in this warehouse watching these three 'relate' to each other and it is not very pleasant and it takes forever to get through.  Every once in a while the monotony will break with a newsflash, or our heroes will step outside to see some fresh carnage, but those parts are disjointed as the majority of the 'action' for this stretch of the film is taking place in a warehouse with people who are absolutely no fun to hang out with, and I'm also going to guess the actors were improvising here.

Eventually they get out the warehouse and formulate some kind of plan.  I forget what it was.  I do know that Sera returns, and we did miss her, with some kid in tow who wants to pee and is whining about the lack of toilet paper.  This added nothing to story but was amusing nonetheless.  But it does serve the purpose to reunite the crew and now they can kick some alien ass.  After Sera gets kidnapped by a mutated Jaba the Hut with the large proboscis that it is using on the poor woman for something less than positive.  Hopefully her friends with the big guns pointed at this creature will shoot it before it does anymore damage.  We're waiting.  She's screaming.  Shoot it please.  Any day now. 

It brings me no joy to tell you this but 'Alien Dawn' is awful.  Just awful.  I've seen a few of Neil Johnson's movies, starting with 'Battlespace' and if I was a filmmaker who didn't have an awful lot of money and wanted a movie with effects that belied my budget, I begging Team Johnson to handle this for me.  I mean the special effects in this film, especially when taking into consideration what the budget probably was, were phenomenal.  It's not ILM or Blur, like somebody could afford them, but they are solid.  If I'm needing some really fit, really attractive young women to put in this movie I can barely afford make, I'm calling my man Neil Johnson yet again because he has a direct line to this action.  But if I need interesting dialog, if I need these attractive actors competently directed, if I need this low budget movie of mine to be paced properly… I probably can't call Neil. 

And this is the problem with this movie that really has the DNA to be low budget alien invasion gold with its above average SFX and high body count.  Erratic pacing, actors who seem to have talent but aren't given much direction, scenes that drag on way too long, not helped by dialog that wasn't all that engaging, and an erratic edit which was nearly as erratic as the pacing.  This made for a 75 minute movie that felt way longer than it needed to be.

I admire what my man Neil Johnson does, I really do, and the man is prolific so it's not like he's listening to me anytime soon, but 'Alien Dawn' was disappointing  when it's plain to see, at least to me, that it could've been a lot better.
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