Review: ‘Alien Nation’

Solid performances by leads James Caan and his humanoid buddy-cop partner Mandy Patinkin move this production beyond special effects, clever alien makeup and car chases.

Solid performances by leads James Caan and his humanoid buddy-cop partner Mandy Patinkin move this production beyond special effects, clever alien makeup and car chases.

A whole culture of aliens, called ‘newcomers’, land in the Mojave desert in the 1990s and are allowed refuge by the US government as if they were Salvadorans or Vietnamese Boat People. Some are good, decent upstanding citizen types, others are just the opposite. They find America a land of ideological confusion. Americans speak of equality yet aren’t consistent when it comes to acting on those beliefs.

Pic is handled by British director Graham Baker on a slightly more serious than comic book level. There’s a lot of violence and noise in this futuristic adaptation of a drug pusher story, but also a compelling human-humanoid drama. Pic doesn’t quite sustain a heart-pounding, eerie tone throughout.

Alien Nation

Production

20th Century Fox. Director Graham Baker; Producer Gale Anne Hurd, Richard Kobritz; Writer Rockne S. O'Bannon; Camera Adam Greenberg Editor Kent Beyda, Don Brochu; Music Curt Sobel Art Jack T. Collis

Crew

(Color) Widescreen. Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1988. Running time: 94 MIN.

With

James Caan Mandy Patinkin Terence Stamp Kevyn Major Howard Leslie Bevis Peter Jason
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