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Dustin Putman

Alien Outpost  (2015)

Reviewed for by Dustin Putman

The Film
2 Stars
(Release Date: July 7, 2015) – Kudos to "Alien Outpost" for attempting a lot with limited resources; filmed in the deserts of Johannesburg, South Africa, on a budget of under $5-million, the film combines "Platoon" with "District 9" to varying degrees of success. In 2033, twelve years after Earth was initially invaded by extraterrestrials, a team of United States Defense Force soldiers are dropped onto the Pakistan-Afghanistan border to join a military squadron based for the last year at Outpost 37. For a long time, orbital defense satellites have kept the aliens (called "Heavies") out of their outpost, but when a deadly breach is perpetrated by humans, it is discovered that the Heavies have figured out a new way to continue their planetary assault.

The writing-directing debut of Jabbar Raisani, "Alien Outpost" is not shy about its allegorical intentions (one soldier describes "fighting a war the world has chosen to forget") while plausibly portraying a fictional future where the planet's population has been ravaged by interlopers from outer space. The decision to approach the story under the auspice of a documentary crew visiting the outpost gives the picture a "you-are-here" feel, but as the attacks heat up and the military men must forge through a war zone, it becomes increasingly difficult to buy into the first-person shooting style and the sheer breadth of coverage that the supposed doc crew civilians capture. Visual effects are used judiciously to hide the seams, while performances are solid despite only a few characters—most notably, homesick new recruit Frankie Forello (Sven Ruygrok)—getting a chance to grow beyond faces in the crowd. "Alien Outpost" resorts to basic "shoot-'em-up" fare by the finale and doesn't lead anywhere special, but Raisani and co-writer/cinematographer Blake Clifton have sharp enough aesthetic eyes to suggest that their best work is yet to come.

Read Dustin's Theatrical Review

Blu-ray Picture/Sound

"Alien Outpost" shoots its way onto Blu-ray with a crisp and snazzy 1080p transfer. Filmed digitally, the image's most unbecoming feature is an intentional blocky pixilation that occurs from time to time to depict the chaos and tumult of war. Instead of adding to the realism, it pulls the viewer out of the film every single time. Aside from this, the film is frequently dazzling in the level of detail and clarity achieved. Colors are rich even when they fall on the side of predominant shades of brown, while blacks are richly resolved. Mosquito noise is noticeable a time or two—no doubt a result of the low-light situations and digital medium. The 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is very loud and boisterous during the action scenes, but the dialogue comes in a little too low in the mix. Admittedly, I had to reach for the volume controls on the remote a few times in the opening half-hour. The audio either leveled out in the second half or I simply got used to it. All in all, the 7.1 mix is still effective.

Blu-ray Features
  • Audio Commentary with director/co-writer Jabbar Raisani and director of photography/co-writer Blake Clifton
  • Interviews with Cast and Crew (16:23, HD)
  • Deleted Scenes (3:22, HD)
  • Theatrical Trailers (3:40, HD)
Bottom Line
IFC Midnight's "Alien Outpost" is a science-fiction war film, inferior to its obvious inspiration—that would be Neill Blomkamp's 2009 breakthrough "District 9"—but diverting and even involving on occasion. While the script ultimately doesn't explore its story or themes as adeptly as one wishes, there will be a definite audience for this film. Scream Factory's Blu-ray is an excellent presentation, and its special features are insightful. For fans, recommended. All others should give it a rent first.

Buy Now at Amazon

© 2015 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman


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