Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Is this the way it’s going to be now? I mean after years of the Sci-Fi Channel producing their own movies or leasing their Sci-Fi originals from The Asylum or Cinetel or RHI entertainment, is After Dark Originals the new supplier? This is a very important question my friends. You see a couple of weeks ago After Dark supplied Sci-Fi with the horror movie ‘Husk’ and while ‘Husk’ had its challenges it was still better than most of what we’ve seen that qualified as a Sci-Fi original. Today we have seen ‘51’ or ‘Area 51’ as the title of the movie emblazoned on the screen as it proceeded to air and this movie was… good. And I have no qualifiers here such as ‘Oh, it was good for Sci-Fi Channel movie’. Yeah, it was a little derivative, but it was a movie about aliens killing people so how original can you be? The problem is, when one was raised on the ‘Raptor Islands’ and the ‘Pterodactyls’ of the world, one gets kind of used to this stuff. Let’s all join hands and hope that these good movies are not a sign of the future, because that’s a future I want no part of.

In a new era of transparency the Gub-Ment has decided it is time to demystify the secret base of ‘Area 51’. Now for the first time, under the watchful eye of hardcore Air Force Colonel John Martin (Bruce Boxleitner), a select group of reporters will be shown the secrets that the base contains. More or less. On this tour will be national anchor man Sam Whitaker (John Shea) and his way too cute camera person Mindy (Lena Clark), and also hard hitting incorruptible news blogger Claire Fallon (Vanessa Branch) and her photographer Kevin (Damon Lipari). Simple enough. Our reporters will be shown some amazing things that our secret scientists have been developing on the two levels of Area 51. But what Colonel Martin isn’t telling them is that there are five levels to Area 51, and that’s where the trouble begins.

Meet Patient Zero. An alien who has been held captive for 25 years, sedated on psychotropic drugs and really, really bad techno music. I mean it’s awful. Simply by touching you Patient Zero can mimic you down to the clothes you are wearing, including your speech but with some limitations. Without getting all into the particulars, Patient Zero has gotten himself free and is on a killing spree and to keep the soldiers of Area 51 preoccupied he has opened some of the lower level gates. This is not a good thing. Now our reporters know the entire truth about Area 51 even though it looks like they aren’t going to make it out of the base to report this truth.

The question that super wise all knowing, super powerful alien J-Rod wants to know, is why has Patient Zero, who seemed like peaceful being, suddenly gone Roy Batty on us? Why indeed. All is not lost however. We have a couple of soldiers top side at the base as our last line of defense trying to manage this situation in tough as nails Sgt. Hannah (Rachel Miner) and not so tough Airman Schumacher (Jason London). And if they fail to contain this situation… well… you know the Gub-Ment has a failsafe or two in place. The truth is out there my friends.

I’m not saying anything in particular because I did like this movie and all, but… if you tell me that there are only two levels of Area 51 and I get on the elevator and there are five buttons… I’m just saying. Anyway, the last movie I saw from this film’s director Jason Connery was the Cuba Gooding Jr. joint ‘The Devil’s Tomb’ and while that movie also had a challenge or two to overcome I mentioned in that article that Jason Connery just might have a future as a film director. I’ll have you know that this movie almost cements that statement as a truism. In this movie Connery has wisely chosen to keep the peripheral bullshit to the bare minimum. There’s no romantic dynamic to deal with and there are no bratty misunderstood teenagers that need rescuing. We simply one have one medium sized really mean and hungry alien on the loose upstairs, a bigger, hungrier, meaner alien on the loose downstairs and a slicker alien with some kind of agenda on the loose everywhere else. People will get shot, gored, have their heads forcibly removed from their necks, eaten, gored some more and then eaten one more time again. This does raise up a small issue we have with this alleged TV rating system in this is one damned violent movie but yet it only gets a TV-14 rating. However if Rachel Miner had popped out a boob for some reason, all of the sudden it would’ve been TV-MA. What’s up with that?

Damned entertaining, linear and focused in its mission for sure but as we pointed out earlier it does call to mind other similar classic movies say like ‘Alien’ and it’s slime drooling, ceiling scaling monster, or the ‘The Thing’ considering he could be among us and we don’t know it, or ‘E.T.’ with it’s cute little alien with the magic hand… and while we did enjoy this movie it certainly isn’t ‘Alien’, ‘The Thing’ or ‘E.T.’ so don’t expect that. And one would think that there would be some kind of contingency in place in the off chance that one of these aliens escaped, considering that bullets don’t work so well. Leaving it up to our lowly airmen to figure out a ‘plan’ to save the earth might be a little suspect. There was also the occasional plot point that didn’t make sense but the movie moved fast enough that it didn’t allow us a lot of time to dwell on all of that.

Fine performances with Bruce Boxleitner playing a shady authority figure… a stretch we know… Jason London adding a touch of comedy, somehow the screenwriters worked in the story of captured marine Jessica Lynch into Rachel Miner’s Sgt. Hannah, and both Vanessa Branch and Lena Clark were looking resplendent until the very end. Seriously, their hair never gut mussed nor did their makeup ever get smudged no matter how much damage these aliens were causing and that’s damned impressive.

Best Sci-Fi original ever? If it qualifies as a Sci-Fi original then yeah, Minotaur and Abominable would have to take a back seat. We’re just not sure it qualifies.

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