The film starts out with a video transmission from Ron Perlman from a secret underground base. Bad stuff is happening and you know that it’s not going to turn out well. The transmission breaks up and… cue military team landing in a desert area, led by a haunted soldier (the excellent Cuba Gooding Jnr) and a female archaeologist who has been called in as an expert.
Those familiar with Aliens will start to see the similiarities with the film straight away and, by the time the team get inside the bunker, it starts to get eerily familiar. Something is in the base that mustn’t be allowed to get out and, as we go through the set pieces from Aliens one by one, the dialogue and incidental music are eerily familiar. Certainly when you watch it you’ll be able to say, ‘Oh, this is that bit where they go after the colonists and…’. They even have the very cute Jason London playing the likeable-soldier-amongst-a-group-of-macho-men and call him Hicks. A few of the other characters are there too, but aren’t named so obviously. We have the smart-assed one, the Hispanic female soldier… there’s no android made in its designer’s image, but… well, you’ll have to watch and find out.
It’s hard to know whether the writers thought of writing ‘Aliens but with a supernatural/zombie twist’, decided to use Aliens as a template and just followed it so closely that you want to cough ‘rip off!’ under your breath, or whether it was made as a deliberate homage. There’s certainly enough in common, and done well, for me to think that it was the latter.
The acting is good – and it includes the very dishy Zack Ward – amongst Ray Winstone, the aforementioned Ron Perlman, and plenty of other familiar and not so familiar faces. The film is competently directed by Jason Connery (I think I’m the only one who remembers Robin of Sherwood and that frightens me. Thirty-five isn’t that old, I tell you!), and the action and pace a great.
It’s prediactable and enjoyable enough, but not spectacular. A lot of reviews give this only three or four out of ten, but I think that’s ungenerous. There are plenty of films out there that are definite three and fours, and this is better than that. One to watch on a Friday night sat on the sofa with a couple of beers or a glass of wine… as long as you don’t let the references to Aliens get to you. Me mentioning that won’t make it any worse. If you know Aliens, it’s already all there.
On a separate note, we’re watching Dark and Stormy Night now… and I really can’t recommend that highly enough for laughs. Watch it for the cape stuck in the door, and … well, everything else.