Friday, 4 March 2011

SyFy Opens Hanger 18 ...

Area 51
(2011 / USA)

‘‘I want this to go quickly, and cleanly’’

When the government, under continued pressure, gives in to allow strictly monitored visitor access to Hanger 18 in Area 51, what has lain secret for decades takes a fancy to its ‘Alien’ visitation.

Reporter Sam Whitaker (John Shea), and highly watched news blog investigator Claire Fallon (Vanessa Branch), are allowed chaperoned access to Area 51, along with their personal photographer and camera woman, to take notes and ask questions on a specially arranged guided tour. Once the doors open the floodgates soon spill forth far more than any of them could have ever imagined for, beyond their wildest expectations !.

Base leader Colonel Ronald Martin (Bruce Boxleitner), of the U.S Air Force, takes the reporter quartet on the suitably arranged show and not so much tell walk through the infamous Hanger 18. Global spy devices and prototype weapons are discussed and shown off, whilst anticipated talk of any alien activity and captivity is dismissed by the military man.

In a lower level of the base scientists and security go about their regular daily routines, including of course interacting with the actual alien life forms that do indeed reside, and in many cases are actually restrained in high security isolation. On this particular day, however, things do not go schedule. Alien Patient Zero, a shape shifting entity able to adopt and mimic the physiology and characteristics of whatever living thing it comes into contact with, chooses this very day, after twenty five years of passive stability, to escape its cell and wreak havoc throughout the base.

The internal alarm is raised and lockdown is instigated. It isn’t just Patient Zero that Colonel Martin and his men have to concern themselves with, but the escape of some other alien entities, far less intelligent than Patient Zero, and with a violent temperament and hunger for flesh !.

What excels, to the movies great credit, is its non reliance on any overly apparent CGI, and indeed some good old fashioned cool looking men in monster suits. Gore splattering, sinew snapping, blood spurting schlock horror galore ensues in this very well made, better budgeted than usual, SyFy Channel outing. Sure it borrows heavily from a multitude of Sci-Fi, horror themes and movies, but does so with an enjoyable spring in its step. Military fatigued soldiers issued with regulation weapons and perimeter scanning devices is straight out of Aliens (1986), but it’s a well used staple that pretty much succeeds every time, and this is no exception.

There is some alien folklore titbits amongst the mix to look out for, and indeed smile at their introduction, such as the introduction of Hanger 18’s resident friendly alien J-Rod, working with the military on a way to return home since crash landing here in the desert back in the fifties !. A highly intelligent being who’s understanding of the entity Patient Zero assists Colonel Martin is invaluable. Along with the four guest visitors to the base they have to work together to stay alive, and find a way to bring order back to the facility.

With the nastier alien variants escaping from the lower levels, up and out to the topside facility, it lays with the brave last line of military defence to go head to tail with them. Guns and gore galore as aliens and soldiers go out on a limb to take each other out !. Pretty impressive stuff then for a made for television syndication movie, and most worthy of any sci-fi, horror, action loving fans attention.

Movie Rating: 6/10

Review by Paul Cooke / Source SyFy Channel

Area 51 (2011)
Director Jason Connery
With Bruce Boxleitner, Jason London, John Shea,
Vanessa Branch & Rachel Miner

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