×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Alien Adventure

Couched in cute concept that has aliens landing at an amusement park and concluding that Earth is just one big dumb fun zone, Belgian animator Ben Stassen's "Alien Adventure" is a sputtering vehicle for showcasing the Imax 3D format.

With:
Voices: Phil "Bouli" Lanners, Pierre "Lele" Lebecque, John Boyle (narrator).

Couched in cute concept that has aliens landing at an amusement park and concluding that Earth is just one big dumb fun zone, Belgian animator Ben Stassen’s “Alien Adventure” is a sputtering vehicle for showcasing the Imax 3D format. As one of the only indie filmmakers working in the large-screen process, Stassen — who made last year’s “Encounter in the Third Dimension” — specializes in simulating roller-coasterlike rides, and new pic is essentially four rides punctuated by wanly comic alien creature interludes. Point of thrill rides is to thrill, but to auds used to such superior yet smaller-format pieces as James Cameron’s “Terminator 2: 3-D,” pic’s a pretty underwhelming close encounter. Rollout as part of package of similar 3D fare geared more to entertain than educate will do fair biz on Imax circuit.

Project feels retro in several respects, not only in corny high jinks of alien exploratory crew but especially in its underlying purpose. The roller-coaster ride was also the big draw of 1952’s “This Is Cinerama,” another case of providing moviegoers with a simulation of something with tremendous visual size and movement. Though fully generated via computer, new pic hardly marks a step forward and unhappily suggests that large-screen films somehow can’t budge out of ghettos of educational docus and visual gimmickry for something more memorable.

Pre-credit warning about potential disorientation or dizziness comes from flying robot Max, the comic bug-eyed character from “Encounters in the Third Dimension” who makes a return cameo appearance. Mock-serious narration (care of helpfully stentorian John Boyle) informs aud that the alien Glagolith race has been roving the universe in search of a habitable home, and as the mother ship hovers above Earth, two probes are sent down to reconnoiter.

Trio of scouts lands at a soon-to-be opened amusement park called Adventure Planet, much to the puzzlement of the overworked ship’s crew and the fat Supreme Leader, who barks orders in indecipherable Glagolithian language (actually, a synthesized version of the Belgian Walloon dialect).

The clueless scouts assume they’re at some important center of planetary business (with exteriors modeled on Poitiers, France-based Le Parc du Futuroscope), but instead they find themselves being taken for several virtual rides as they poke around a facility that apparently has no security to shoo away pesky space visitors. As with all the roller-coaster ventures, first one, called Arctic Adventure, is seen from alien p.o.v. as his car careens up and down icy crevices, past Inuit villages and wild leaps and jumps only possible in virtual space.

More impressive and scary is the second, Magic Carpet Ride, in which a genie acts as guide through dangers that might easily scare Indiana Jones. By the time of the third ride, the Kid Coaster, sameness and repetition begin to set in, and the final spin, Aquadventure, only begins to explore the possibilities of 3D animation underwater.

Three-dimensionality is expressed here largely for the single effect of uphill and downhill movements at various speeds, rendering pic nearly as rudimentary as a computer game. While certain visual elements, such as speeding chunks of ice on the arctic ride and wild drops and swirls on the magic carpet number, momentarily dazzle, animation work itself is not exactly something to phone home about.

Alien Adventure

Belgium-U.S.

Production: An nWave Pictures release and presentation in association with Iwerks Entertainment and Movida/Trix. Produced by Charlotte Huggins, Caroline Van Iseghem. Executive producer, Ben Stassen. Co-producer, Kim Nelson-Frey. Directed, written by Ben Stassen.

Crew: Camera (CFI color, Imax 3D), Stassen; editors, James Manke, Edwin Escalante, Todd Portugal; music, Louis Vyncke, Lele & the Puzzlers; sound, Paul-Francois Fontigny; sound designer, Pierre Lebecque; sound editors, Yves Renard, Patrick Hubbart, Fred Demolder, Vincent Debast, Stephane Werner, Cyril Orcel; visual effects supervisor, Jos Claesen; animation, Trix & Movida; lead character animation, Kris De Boeck, Yvan Verhoeven; technical manager, Joel Labby. Reviewed at Loews Universal Studios Imax Theater, Universal City, Aug. 22, 2000. No MPAA Rating. Running time: 36 MIN.

With: Voices: Phil "Bouli" Lanners, Pierre "Lele" Lebecque, John Boyle (narrator).

More Film

  • '2019 Oscar Nominated Short Films: Live

    Film Review: ‘2019 Oscar Nominated Short Films: Live Action’

    The Academy skewed dark in its choice of live-action shorts this year, selecting four films to slit your wrists by — each one featuring child endangerment in a different form — and a fifth, about a diabetic on her death bed, that finds a glimmer of uplift at the other end of life. If that [...]

  • How the 'Rich Eisen Show' Mixes

    How the 'Rich Eisen Show' Mixes Sports and Showbiz in an Entertaining Mix

    Walking through the El Segundo studio where veteran sportscaster Rich Eisen tapes his daily “Rich Eisen Show,” the sheer density of sports memorabilia is overwhelming — everything from game balls to jerseys, gear, autographs and uncountable photos are crammed onto every inch of wall and desk space. But step into Eisen’s dressing room, and the [...]

  • Yorgos Lanthimos

    Film News Roundup: 'The Favourite' Director Yorgos Lanthimos Boards Crime Drama

    In today’s film news roundup, Yorgos Lanthimos has set up a crime drama, “Here Lies Daniel Tate” is being adapted, and Donna Langley becomes a member of the USC film school board. DIRECTOR HIRED More Reviews Film Review: ‘2019 Oscar Nominated Short Films: Live Action’ TV Review: 'Whiskey Cavalier' “The Favourite” producer-director Yorgos Lanthimos has [...]

  • Brody Stevens Dead

    Comedian Brody Stevens Dies at 48

    Prominent Los Angeles comedian Brody Stevens died Friday in Los Angeles, Variety has confirmed. He was 48. “Brody was an inspiring voice who was a friend to many in the comedy community,” Stevens’ reps said in a statement. “He pushed creative boundaries and his passion for his work and his love of baseball were contagious. [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business

    Hollywood Agents Blast Writers Guild Over New Proposals

    The war between the Writers Guild of America and Hollywood agents has escalated as the two sides battle over the rules on how writers are represented. The latest volley emerged Friday from Karen Stuart, executive director of the Association of Talent Agents, who accused WGA leaders of misleading its members and asserted that the guild [...]

  • Xavier Legrand Custody

    Cesar Awards: Xavier Legrand’s ‘Custody’ Wins Best Film

    Xavier Legrand’s feature debut “Custody,” a tense portrait of a family torn by domestic violence, won best film, actress (for Lea Drucker), and original screenplay at the 44th Cesar Awards, which took place at the Salle Pleyel in Paris. The awards are France’s highest film honors. “Custody,” which marks Legrand’s follow up to his Oscar-nominated [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    'Crazy Rich Asians,' 'Late Show With Stephen Colbert' Win Publicity Campaign Awards

    Hollywood publicists have selected “Crazy Rich Asians” as the top movie publicity campaign for 2018 and “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” as the best television campaign. Warner Bros.’ “Crazy Rich Asians” topped the campaigns for Disney’s “Black Panther,” Fox’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Paramount’s “A Quiet Place,” Sony’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” and Universal’s “Halloween” for [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content