March 3, 2010

Rabid Rewind: Alien Apocalypse

Title: Alien Apocalypse
Starring: Bruce Campbell, Renee O'Connorr
Directed by: Josh Becker
Released: Starz Home Entertainment (2005); originally aired on SyFy
Genre: Science-Fiction; Horror

This might be the first time I've seen a movie starring Bruce Campbell and didn't really enjoy it. For all the B-movie goodness I've seen him in, I've been able to forgive the cheesy content because the films didn't take themselves too seriously. Alien Apocalypse doesn't take itself too seriously either, but I kind of wonder if it took itself seriously at all.

This is a SyFy original movie, which aired before the TV network changed their name. Judging by some of the trailers I've seen for their original movies, the name change may be part of a witness relocation program. I like cheese-ball films. Transylvania 6-5000, Army of Darkness, some of the old Godzilla movies, and Robocop are fun films that are in on the joke. Big Trouble in Little China may rank as my all-time favorite cheesy film--see it if you ever get a chance.

Alien Apocalypse had some early promise, but by the end of the film it had become quite repetitive in its action and gags, and when the credits rolled I was just glad it was over. It's not all bad, and I was by no means expecting Shakespeare, but when I saw how rudimentary the CGI effects were I realized I'd have to really work to suspend my disbelief. I'm not sure what the budgetary constraints were for this movie, but I wonder if some of the money spent on CGI aliens could have been better spent on practical effects.

As for the plot, the world has been invaded and taken over by an alien race that's enslaved humanity in order to harvest wood. Yup, the alien race considers lumber a precious commodity and see Earth as a wellspring of luxury. Although, the aliens don't seem to do much more with the wood than make humans pick it up from one pile and stack it in another. So we're years into the enslavement of mankind when a manned space mission returns to Earth--four scientists crash land in a pod somewhere in the Pacific northwest. Enter the Bruce.

Bruce is the doctor and is obsessed with how the world has changed, as they've been on their mission for decades, and hopes to exploit the world's need for doctors. He's in luck because he's the only doctor. He discovers this after he and his crew mates are captured and sent to a labor camp. It's here that I started to think of this movie as a poor man's Planet of the Apes, only instead of Charlton Heston fighting ape-men, Bruce Campbell is fighting imbecilic insectoids.

The movie could have been a whole lot more enjoyable if not for the lack of consideration towards the villains in the movie. Perhaps it was intentional to make the aliens a bit developmentally challenged, but every time an alien with a friggin' photon cannon stared in stupefied confusion at the humans hurling rocks and arrows at them rather than blasting them into oblivion, I had to roll my eyes. An entire battalion at one point is thwarted by a handful of humans with primal screams and a seemingly endless supply of arrows.

Bruce Campbell fans are about the only people who need bother with seeing this movie, and chances are those fans already have.

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