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Monday, December 10, 2007


Are you kidding me? On two consecutive nights, I have watched a Sci-Fi Channel original movie that was competently made and told? Between this and getting a Facebook request from someone I actually know, hell must have frozen over. Reading other reviews, this might be the effect of low expectations.

At the heart of ALIEN SIEGE is an interesting philosophical question about the value of human life. It is essentially the same question that WAR OF THE WORLDS posed, and the same question faced during the Michael Vick trial. As a species, it's only evolution that we value our lives other the lives of other species. We eat to survive, perform medical experiments on animals for our health, and clear out animal habitats to build our cities. We do it because we can and feel it is our natural right to thrive and multiply this way. When an alien species invades Earth to harvest human blood to cure a disease that will wipe out their kind, do they have the same natural right to kill 8 million of our own for their survival? What gives us the right but not them?

Being a Sci-Fi Channel movie, ALIEN SIEGE is clearly inequipped to meditate on such questions in the deepest, most artful ways, but the movie does try to address the issues. And of course, any philosophy gets lost in the many laser gun battles. Perhaps the movie would work better as an anime, where the makers would be more willing to go the extra mile (a la GHOST IN THE SHELL). Nevertheless, the movie manages to be entertaining and smarter than the average Sci-Fi flick. It has all the hallmarks of a B-production with cheap CGI, has-been actors (you're still great, Apollo Creed), and goofy costumes and sets. Frankly, the aliens are all dressed up like waiters. And they all have blonde eyebrows to indicate they are indeed aliens. It's very odd, but it kinda works. The writers are upfront and explain away matter-of-factly that they look like humans and speak English just because they emigrated here and should (Are you listening, Cubans and Mexicans? Oh, wait. No. Porque no comprenden ingles! Come on! White people need all the help they can get!). I found it very easy just to buy into the world created. The movie is tightly paced and gets right to the action, dealing with the prologue of alien invasion in the title sequence. Again, the writing is sharper than I expected. I particularly like how the traitorous human is dealt with.

As with MANTICORE yesterday, I could see this being a very good summer movie with a much bigger budget, but I'd like to see it remade as a more thoughtful sci-fi movie with a darker story like some of the old OUTER LIMITS episodes or PLANET OF THE APES. The plot comes down to a choice between letting all men, women, and children die a quick death on one planet or letting all men, women, and children die a slow painful death on another planet. Some additional scenes are needed to build sympathy with the alien invaders and really muck up the moral conflict. I can also see it as a great little 50's B-flick with a really graphic poster with the tagline "They want our blood!" akin to NIGHT OF THE BLOOD BEAST. I guess I'm more interested in what you could do with the story than the actual story itself. That doesn't prevent me from recommending the movie, however.

As with MANTICORE, there's nothing to complain about in the video/audio department. The 16:9 anamorphic video is clear with good colors, details, and no noticable compression problems. The audio is decent stereo, though I had trouble hearing a few lines of dialogue (CC would've helped). This does have an actual bonus feature in an audio commentary with the director and some of the actors. They're all pretty energetic, and the director provides some good insight into how the movie came about. In classic B-movie fashion, he was told to make a movie about aliens needing our blood to save the planet.

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