Wednesday, August 5, 2015

In short: Alien Outpost (2014)

aka Outpost 37

It’s 2033. Ten years after humanity – uniting under the banner of something called the “United Space Defence Force” or USDF – has driven back an alien invasion despite those aliens pretty clearly being technologically far advanced, nobody on the planet seems to care much about the fact there are still aliens, called “Heavies”, left behind continuing the war, so the USDF is undermanned and underfunded.

The film follows the obligatory documentary film crew accompanying a handful of soldiers to Outpost 37 in Iran. There, the war is still very active, and now it looks as if the locals weren’t any longer willing to tolerate the once welcome USDF’s presence any longer – at least going by the regularity with which they attack the outpost.

Or there just might be something else – something much worse – going on.

I wish I would like visual effects specialist Jabbar Raisani’s feature debut more than I actually did, for its basic set-up of using the military doc formula, POV horror edition, in combination with the alien invasion scenario is a good one. Unfortunately, the fake military documentary part is neither very interesting nor very surprising, with every character a cliché you’ve seen in dozens (if not hundreds) of war movies and little actual depth put into it. Personally, I’m also not a fan of the completely uncritical way the film looks at the military but then, that’s not atypical for the documentary style it’s imitating either, so it’s at least authentic.

The SF part is even more problematic because so very little about it seems thought through at all. I at least find a future taking place some years after an alien invasion where humanity actually doesn’t care about a continued aggressive alien presence on their planet anymore pretty implausible, a word that also fits a world where technology doesn’t seem to have progressed much during eighteen years, particularly not eighteen years that must have left us with quite a bit of superior alien technology to learn from. And hey, as luck will have it those aliens are even humanoid to a silly degree, so a lot of their technological concepts would probably be pretty manageable to understand. These things, and quite a few other details that are equally badly conceived, leave the film’s basic plot standing on a very shaky world building foundation.

And that plot isn’t very interesting either – apart from the fake military doc thing, it’s alien invasion by numbers with the biggish surprise for the characters being obvious to an even just mildly genre-savvy audience early on, and little else to distract one. Well, the military action aspect of the film is decent, as are the effects but both elements aren’t so spectacular they could ever make up for the undercooked rest of the film.

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