Image Entertainment // 2005 // 89 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // December 21st, 2007
They've come for our blood.
Alien Siege is one of the "Sci-Fi Essentials," which I guess means "moldy old made-for-TV movie we had kicking around and decided to blast it out to the home video market and see if we could make enough money to buy a new photocopier for the office."
Brad Johnson stars as Dr. Stephen Chase, which is of course the typical name of an action movie protagonist, a brilliant researcher who's caught in between a violent human resistance and an invading force of aliens called the Kulkus. See, the Kulkus race is being decimated by a mysterious virus and human blood holds the antidote. The Kulkus demand eight million human beings to harvest for their cure, in exchange for not wiping out the planet and taking what they want.
So Earth had a lottery and one of the unfortunate few to be selected for extraterrestrial liquidation was Chase's spunky blonde daughter Heather (Erin Ross). This gets Dr. Chase motivated to interfere in the tenuous Earth-Kulkus relations, and his adventures connect him with the feisty resistance hell-bent on smiting as many Kulkus as possible. Carl Weathers later shows up as a weak-willed Army general who looks real bored.
Some of the ideas here are pretty cool, but in the end Alien Siege can't quite overcome its low-grade made-for-TV pedigree and fails to distinguish itself from the parade of mediocre SciFi originals that have come before -- or after -- it.
I did get a kick out of Kulkus-needs-our-blood angle. That allowed for some deeper storytelling than the typical man-versus-hideously-mutated-python narrative flow many of us SciFi movie watchers are used to. The dilemmas of the Kulkus -- a normally easygoing, almost altruistic civilization now faced with no choice but to harvest another life form to keep its citizens -- and the Earthlings -- so, we either cough up a crapload of our fellow species or face widespread obliteration from a scary alien satellite -- generates an interesting and nuanced view of the usual good vs. bad dynamic. Of course, that's all tossed out the window toward the end when the whole film devolves into a derivative CGI shoot 'em up.
The visual effects work isn't too horrible, but the spaceships and explosions and laser beams are a far cry from even the lowest tier of theatrical releases. When humans are harvested, they're covered in a poorly rendered cocoon of entry-level computer generated effects. The alien ships look a little niftier but not much.
But the goofiest thing in Alien Siege is easily the super-advanced alien death ray gun that Dr. Chase manages to create. It's an unwieldy plastic behemoth (I think it's supposed to be either metal or some kind of exotic Kulkus alloy, but it looks plastic) that shoots a fat laser beam out of its tip and can punch through aliens that conveniently shuffle around with little to no evasion reflexes and UFOs with ease. The weapon is a major plot device, but man if I wasn't holding the derisive chortles back every time Brad Johnson hefted that stupid thing.
The film gets a decent looking 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, supplemented by a 5.1 surround mix that does the firefights and exploding alien ships justice. Two extras packed with the feature: a commentary track with director Robert Stadd and actors Nathan Anderson, Michael Cory Davis and Lilas Lane and still gallery.
Alien Siege isn't horrible and plays with some interesting ideas but my interest wavered throughout. It's one of the better SciFi originals, but that's not saying much.
Fire this one back through the wormhole.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Image Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 89 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Audio commentary
* Still gallery