STARRING: Bruce Boxleitner, Rachel Miner, Jason London, Aaron 'Shoes' Schumacher, Vanessa Branch, John Shea

2011, 90 Minutes, Directed by:
Jason Connery

What is supposed to be a PR exercise to divert the media’s attention from the real purpose of Area 51, namely to keep some space aliens captive, goes awry when said aliens manage to escape and wreak all kinds of bloody mayhem in the process.

This full-length made-for-the-SyFy-channel feature movie boasts some interesting ideas – Ronald Reagan was actually a shape-shifting alien! – but prefers to do nothing with them. Instead it is content to play out as a pastiche of ideas stolen from the likes of Alien, Predator and The Thing. (One alien design is “borrowed” right from Pan’s Labyrinth.) Most of the movie is concerned with marines battling it with alien monsters just like they did in James Cameron’s 1986 classic Aliens.

Taken on its own terms, it is perhaps one of the better movies showing on SyFy (which isn’t saying much, we know). Bruce Boxleitner (Babylon 5, Tron) proves once again what a seasoned veteran he is while the rest of the cast is mostly okay too. Special effects and makeup is average overall despite being on the cheap side. 51 could however have been so much better in the hands of a more talented and daring writer. A wasted opportunity in all. Average.

Some notes: (a) For such a top secret facility Area 51 seems to be woefully understaffed. (b) Bloggers usually aren’t sexy blondes. (c) If the marines have no choice but to kill the escaped aliens, then how were the aliens captured in the first place? Don’t they have any contingency plans in place? (d) The movie is directed by Jason Connery, son of Sean.



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