Tuesday, 11 October 2011

DVD Review: 51

Directed by Jason Connery
Starring Bruce Boxleitner, Jason London, Rachel Miner
Due to public pressure, a team of journalists get to go on a tour of Area 51, The US’s most infamous airbase. During the visit, one of the base’s extra-terrestrial “guests” escapes causing havoc and carnage.
Good news! This isn’t the worst movie that I’ve seen come of the SyFy stable. The bad news? That’s not saying much.
Last year, Bruce Boxleitner appeared in my “Movie of the year” Tron Legacy. I have a lot of time for the actor. He’s an all round nice guy and is always a pleasure to watch, even in this. Boxleitner tries so very hard in 51. The trouble is; it’s like he’s got a better script than everyone else. While he’s delivering his lines with enthusiastic relish, everyone else is chewing the scenery around him. John Shea (Lex Luthor from Lois and Clark) has a go at putting something into the movie but it's a futile gesture.
Whilst I applaud the filmmaker’s decision to film with physical effects rather than render the aliens with CGI, the results are amusing. “Patient Zero” who has the power to mimic base personnel is, in its original incarnation, a veiny body stocking worn by an actor. The alien protagonist looks like a cheap knock off of an Asgard in Stargate SG-1. Another evil alien looks like a cheap cross between an Alien from the Alien movie franchise and the creature effects in a 1987 movie called The Kindred. The positive is that the creature kills are quite effective. Unlike some SyFy generated projects this one isn’t afraid of the gore factor. An example is a nice tentacle through the eye shot.
The premise is promising enough but beginning the movie with a shot that takes you right out of the movie, because of an horrendous green screen application, was the first bad move. There are attempts at building tension and they work up until the point you see either the body stocking or the rubber tentacled creature. The movie is an anachronism merging 50s style plotting with 80s style special effects. There are scenes lifted straight out of other movies, to add insult to injury. One such example is the scene in which the characters test each other to see if they’re the creature, using a torch. This scene is borrowed and borrowed badly from John Carpenter’s The Thing.
The SyFy brand continues to frustrate. They cancel shows like Caprica and Stargate Universe and spend the money on making genuinely dire TV movies of the week like the Craptocus Vs Shiteoclops type movies. 51 is marginally better but I can’t recommend it.
Score: 2/10

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