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Alien Nation

01/06/2008. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

Buy Alien Nation in the USA - or Buy Alien Nation in the UK

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region 2 DVD: pub: 20th Century Fox F1-SGB 01585DVD. 86 minute film with extras. Price: 3.00 (UK) if you know where to look) . stars: James Caan, Mandy Patakin and Terrance Stamp.

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Having reviewed the five TV movie boxset last month, I thought I ought to look over the original source film that got the TV series its original go ahead.

Primarily, 'Alien Nation' is more a buddy-buddy cop movie only taking on the theme that the partner is a member of an alien race marooned here with half a million others when their spacecraft crashed in the Mojave Desert. The plot revolves around an alien drug manufacture, the need to stop it and catch the felons involved. Other than what makes the Newcomers (they weren't called 'Tenctonese') alien, the plot elements could easily have been interchanged with more human elements and still have worked.

Scriptwriter Rockne S. O'Bannon was still building up his CV back in 1988 and built up a practical alien species with different culinary tastes and physical weaknesses adapting to life on Earth. Establishing different details early, it doesn't take too much grey matter to realise that the information would be used in the film climax. I can fully understand TV producer Kenneth Johnson's remarks about the hidden potential of this film quietly ignored when they went for something that was more suitable to the big screen. Then again, without this film, we wouldn't have had an interesting TV series. Swings and roundabouts.

The two main extras here cover Caan and Patakin being directed in scenes as well as mini-interviews with them and Terrance Stamp. Nothing that massive but this was done in the days before the extras expected for DVD release today.

If it wasn't for the cast, I suspect 'Alien Nation' could well have ended up being produced on a 'B' budget and only enjoyed in cult circles. Stars increase budget which was put to good use in bringing this film to life.

GF Willmetts

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