Saturday, 20 July 2013

Film: Alien Hunter (2003)

This one appeared on UK TV not long ago with a reasonable write-up, so I finally got around to watching it.  (Warning – this review contains spoilers.) It features James Spader as a scientist with a background in SETI (the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, in case anyone's in any doubt) who is invited to an Antarctic research base to investigate an object buried in the ice which was discovered by satellite imagery. It had been excavated and transferred to the base, and as the ice around it melts it gradually emerges as an alien vehicle – warm and emitting radio signals. Cutting it open is the traditional Bad Idea since it turns out to be an escape pod containing an alien who promptly revives from suspended animation. For once the alien isn't hostile, but it does carry a disease lethal to all Earth life which is transmitted with great speed, leading to the deaths of several of the researchers. The US government is aware of this risk (from Roswell, of course – need you ask?) so has asked the Russian government to order one of their submarines in the area to hit the base with nuclear missiles. Meanwhile the aliens arrive to find out what's happened to their escape pod.

Alien Hunter has nothing original to say and isn't that well produced. It uses rapid scene changes, especially at the start, leaving the viewer with no time to absorb what's going on or to get to know any of the characters. There's also an obtrusive soundtrack banging away all of the time (thought for the day – some of the most impressive films I've seen have no music in them at all). The result is a by-the-numbers effort which left me unengaged, although it just about remained watchable. The ending seemed to be calling for a sequel to follow-up what happened to the survivors from the base, but if this were ever to be attempted it would require a lot more imagination from the script writers.

A final point for collectors of screen trivia: one character is played by Carl Lewis, the famous athlete from the 1980s and early 90s. I wasn't aware that he appeared in films and TV programmes, although a quick check of his Wiki entry shows that this wasn't the only time.

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