I don't know about the rest of you guys but in my neck of the woods it's been raining since Saturday. I'm talking floods, power outages, and a general gray sogginess as far as the eye can see. I've started building something that I hope will float for forty days and forty nights. In between coats of sealant, I took time out to watch SciFi Pictures 'highest rated' original movie of all time, Alien Apocalypse. Now, I've seen a 'pictures original' or two before and the fact that this one was the highest rated one makes one wonder about the rating scale. But hey, let's throw caution to the howling wind and take a look, shall we?
After forty years of cryogenic sleep in space, Dr. Ivan Hood (Bruce Campbell) theorizes that he and his crew may return to an earth governed by a utopian society. There he could establish himself as a great healer. Ivan is in for a pretty big surprise because about 20 years into the nap he and his crew were taking, giant termites overtook the world. The Mites have made slaves of the last remaining humans and keep them in line by biting off the heads of those who misbehave. Heads are the Mites second favorite delicacy though. I'm sure your asking yourselves what the earth could have in it's possession to finally temp an alien race to come calling? Could it be our oil preserves or perhaps they were jealous of our freedom? No way folks, as it turns out it's all about the wood. The aliens have set up a lumber industry in all the world's heavily wooded areas that would put our founding fathers to shame. They've enslaved humans to do all of the heavy lifting (termites have no hands) so that they can send all the wood back to their home planet.
Ivan soon hears that the president is rumored to be alive and well and building a rebel army to take back the planet. So our hero sets out to find the president and the army so that they can rise up against the Termites and free the human race. Along the way, Ivan builds his team by healing and pep-talking anyone he comes across. He ends up with a ragged collection of hopeful freedom seekers who are willing to follow the good doctor until the bitter end or until it looks hopeless. This group has everything thing from hunched over people that look like they've just wandered out of a Monty Python movie to cross bow carrying members of the Senate. The fate of human freedom is in their hands and once the battles started there's no going back. Yikes!
Don't get me wrong, I love the SciFi channel. They run the old Twilight Zones and Outer Limits and they tend to run movies that are closer to my liking. However, I have never really cared for the Pictures Original movies that they run. They tend to be low budget creature feature knock offs with horrible acting and some of the cheesiest lines I have ever heard. The monsters and effects can be downright shameful and they almost always neaten up the ending so that it fits in the programming timeslot. They may as well come in black and white no frills boxes at the local Blockbuster. Now, I'm not saying they won't pass the time when nothing else is on, but I don't think I've ever come across one that I really liked either.
In the case of Alien Apocalypse, I was a little more willing to give it a chance because usually Bruce Campbell has a way of making cheesy lines funny and poor low budget effects work to the movies advantage. Not too long ago Bruce did a Pictures Original for SciFi called "The Man With The Screaming Brain" that I did go out of my way to watch and it was the first one that I had a good time with. It was as goofy as you'd expect and didn't take itself too seriously. So, when this movie hit my doorstep, I thought maybe Bruce might bring some of his silly charm to this giant bug feature. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to make this a good movie.
Sure there was plenty of blood, explosions and head chomping but in the end it wasn't enough. The aliens didn't look as bad as I feared they would but they didn't really look all that threatening either and they weren't at all hard to kill. The fact that no one tried to at least stab or hit one or two of them before our hero came along was just bad story telling and except for the head chomping, they didn't really seem all that threatening to begin with. The green slime blood that came out of them looked more suited for Nickelodeon than for SciFi. At least they didn't look like wires suspended them.
The filming was as good as you'd expect from any made for television movie but the level of effects were a disappointment. I've seen television series that had a higher production value and that were presented with a more realistic look. The sound was clear and consistent but there wasn't anything exceptional about the sound effects. It was your pretty standard fare. Special features on the disk include audio commentary with Bruce Campbell and writer/director Josh Becker, a behind the scenes look at the feature, a storyboard gallery, and Bruce Campbell's bio.
All in all, I suppose it could have been far worse. If you're normally a fan of SciFi's Pictures Originals and I've horribly offended you, than this is just the film for you. Feel free to spend your hard earned dough and enjoy. As for me, I'm kind of sorry I didn't watch a boat-building tutorial instead.