Alien Nation: The Udara Legacy (1997)

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“Is it just me honey, or do our heads look unusual?”
“What are you trying to say?”

What can be likeable about Alien Nation is its odd contrast of light entertainment and darker sci-fi motifs. These darker elements often are disguises for social satire, namely prejudice. In this last instalment of the television-movie series, several newcomers who received a form of mind control as rebel slaves on board the ship, start receiving the signals again now on earth, years after the cause existed. But who’s giving the orders? This story-line raises obvious debates about extremism and oppression, as well as a twist on the  typical political corruption narrative.

It’s good to see that this and the previous film (The Enemy Within 1996) got more back on track with how the television episodes (1989) were, using criminal activity as a vehicle, as opposed to the overblown themes in the earlier movies like world domination and the event of millennium. Alien Nation was essentially always a buddy cop outing with a twist.

Terri Treas spends a lot of time hiding in this one as Cathy Frankel and is noticeably bigger because of her pregnancy at the time of filming. Still, it’s nice to see her, and much of the main cast get a look-in; another thing Udara’ gets right is cast screen-time balance, which the early films were a mess with.

Unanswered questions without much spoilers (but which you wouldn’t understand unless having seen the movie): Why does George Francisco forgive his wife so easily for a potentially dangerous decision she alone made for the family? Why does no one ever get to go on holiday in Alien Nation (poor Zapeda)? Why wasn’t Emily at least a little mad once she found out what had happened to her? Where is the the family’s baby Vessna !?

Despite plot holes galore and a slight rush-rush feel in the 90 minute format, this may be Alien Nation’s best outing. It’s less grandiose and resembles the television series better. It’s possible that another movie was not produced due to Terri Treas having a child and subsequently being unavailable, but who knows. Enjoy the legacy.

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