In a secret government lab, Dr. Alan Woodman conducts experiments to develop a violent alien into a revolutionary fighting machine. The trial fails and the creature escapes into compound, killing everyone in its path. Only Woodman and his assistant Charlie survive. After locking down the facility, they send out a distress call and the top covert military force responds. Led by the beautiful but tough Rita Talon, the team has been instructed to locate and destroy the creature. Working with Woodman and Charlie, they begin the hunt but quickly realize that they have to deal with more than just the creature.
Directed by: Abram Cox
. Starring: James Marshall
, Michelle Goh
, John Savage
, Martin Kove
, Stanislav Dimitrov
, Nathan Perez
, T.M. Van Ostrand
, Atanas Srebrev
, David Kallaway
, Stanimir Stamatov
, Raicho Vasilev
, Veronika Sitih
, Krassimir Manov
. Music by: John Dickson
The film begins with narration telling us about a meteor that crashed on Earth thousands of years ago. People in the area found a large emerald-like gem that turned out to have "special powers". Of course it changed hands over the years and yadda yadda yadda, finally ending up buried and only rumored to exist in legend. We cut to the present, and a team of archaeologists unearth a fabled cratetrunkarc that turns out to contain the gem. Then, quicker than we can wink, we've changed plots and we're in a secret government mountain lair where scientists are working on a "super-soldier" that is a genetic manipulation of 100 different species, incorporating the traits of each that are most appropriate to killing things and surviving while being attacked. Of course, this beastie gets loose, and the bulk of Alien Lockdown concerns a Special Forces military group that infiltrates the secret government facility and attempts to take care of business. Eventually the plots are tied together more firmly, but it takes awhile.
Alien Lockdown is wildly uneven. Some aspects are excellent and other aspects are pretty miserable. At times it becomes unintentionally funny. But overall, this is an enjoyable little low-budget sci-fihorroraction flick, primarily recommended for hardcore fans of that genre combination who try to see everything made.
For me, the most consistently positive aspect of the film was the lighting and cinematography. Through a combination of unusual lighting and film processing schemes, director Tim Cox achieves a very refreshing and aesthetically pleasing variety of colors and textures. Cox, by the way, was also responsible for another Sci-Fi Channel film that I enjoyed even more, Larva (2005), which also had interesting lighting and cinematography. Some scenes in Alien Lockdown have a golden yellowbrownorange glow. Others emphasize different colors. Many lean towards monochromaticism. By the end of the climax, Cox has cinematographer John S. Bartley almost shooting in black & white, with just a slight tint. Colors are very important to the film--there is some important dialogue at one point about red and green. A more studied look at the film from a color symbolism perspective might prove revealing.
The cinematography is good for other reasons, too. For example, there is some very interesting hand-held work that is effectively employed to amp up the tension of a scene where two characters are trapped in a cage. And there are some unusual subtle touches, such as a pinpoint of light from a laser scope that stays on a character during a closely framed talking heads dialogue scene.
At the beginning of the film, I thought I was in for quite a treat. The film starts with a beautiful orange sky as we pan over dark mountains. Even though we next hear some slightly convoluted dialogue, which is usually a bad sign, the visuals remain attractive enough to override any mounting disappointment. The next scene is a very unique sequence of "warring Romans" silhouetted against a red background, then we move to the present (well, or questionably the future, due to later clues) and an Indiana Jones-ish adventure flavor. I was completely in the palm of Tim Cox' hand at this point; I was fully geared up for a relatively obscure 10 out of 10.
Unfortunately, things take a turn south not long afterward as we encounter what turns out to be the core of the plot--the super-soldier government stuff I mentioned above. Actually, this section isn't too bad until the Special Forces "commandos" arrive on the scene. There are a couple problems with this middle section of the film, the main one being that Cox and his army of writers do not let us get to know the characters except for the extremely attractive leader, Talon (Michelle Goh).
With such a collection of writers, you'd think there would be more of a plot to the middle of the film. But instead, we're treated to a series of random Aliens (1986)Starship Troopers 2 (2004)-like scenes. There is a lot of searching through similar-looking corridors and rooms. There are a lot of weapons and "macho code talk". It had all the excitement of 30 minutes of padding.
To make this section slightly worse, the dialogue is riddled with clichés and ridiculous non-sequiturs. Take for example this "intellectual" exchange between Talon and token "evil genius" Dr. Woodman (John Savage, looking an awful lot like Brad Dourif to me):
Woodman: "This is a morality tale involving all of humanity. And you will be living out the first chapter."
Talon: "You better start making sense real fast. Stop with all this philosophical b.s."
Woodman: "After you've studied your humanities, and history, and mathematics at he levels I have, there is no other explanation. This is light against darkness, right against wrong, good against evil, only now, we are not dictating the rules!"
But things improve quite a bit again by the time we get to the climax, even though the monster is a not-very-veiled amalgamation of Alien and Predator--we even get a moment out of Alien 3 (1992) with a "near kiss" between the beastie and our heroine. There is good gore throughout the film, if you're into that, and the plot gets better as we learn of a couple double crosses that make the rest of the film more interesting in retrospect.
Review by Brandt Sponseller from the Internet Movie Database.