Alien Nation Review

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It’s 1991 and 100,000 aliens, known as Newcomers, have unexpectedly landed on Earth, and swiftly become integrated into human society. Although, the victims of prejudice and forced into menial jobs, Sam Francisco (Patinkin) has become the first Newcomer c


Given the punning title, and not-so subtle subtext of racism and immigration issues, this superficially sci-fi movie squanders the simple opportunity to be a juicy creature feature by fooling itself it has got something important to say. In fact, despite the wilting satire around the edges — Newcomers get boozed up on sour milk, silt up their innards with bad junk food and fail to comprehend human, or, at least, Californian humour — this is no more than the creaky buddy cop formula given the once over by a screenwriter with a single idea, 48 Hours meets E.T..

   Hence, once you get past the giant, slug skinned craniums of the Newcomers, known derisively as “slags”, the film bottoms out as two mismatched cops trace a murder which leads to a drug ring and the most obviously signalled villain since Darth Vader. Oh, and along the way they come to respect one another. As directed by the man who made Star Trek V – the really bad one.

   Mandy Patinkin, at least, works hard to give Francisco a dopey warmth, which stands in stark contrast to James Caan who could play the hard-bitten bullyboy, boozy loner, and maverick cop type in his sleep, which he seems to be doing. The action is bitty and seldom thrills, the science fiction hastily shunted to the fringes because of budget constriction — the hint that these genetically engineered space slaves were created by some more formidable super alien is frustratingly unexplored.

      Instead the film saunters along, making vague comments about the way America treats its immigrant fringes, until they confront the Newcomer baddie. You can spot him as the one doing awfully well. Still, Francisco gets the hang of jokes and over his fear of salt-water and Sykes gets a another buddy. A television series briefly followed, but no one noticed.

Bit of a missed opportunity this.