I was recommended to see the sf/horror movie Alien Raiders by a friend who said that it is much better than the title suggests. I found it to be a mildly diverting way to spend 82 minutes, so I guess he was right.
The main thing I liked about this movie is that it assumed that anyone who is renting something called Alien Raiders already knows the rules of the genre and doesn't want to get bogged down with pointless exposition. The movie sets up the characters and the situation with remarkable efficiency, using shorthand to set everything up. The downside of this is that it means the movie is generic enough that nothing really needs to be explained because nothing new or original is going on. It's basically yet another rip-off of Alien and The Thing.
Everything about the movie is at least competent. The acting, the dialogue, the camerawork, the special effects - everything is good enough. The monsters are admirably kept off-screen as much as possible, so we never get much of a chance to complain about how cheap they are. There's no outright cheating in the plotting, and the coincidences (e.g. the heroine's stepfather just happening to be an ace hostage negotiator) don't become too annoying.
The best thing about the whole movie, in my opinion, was the performance of Bonita Friedericy in a key role as a junkie who has critical information about the aliens. She has a great dry delivery of her smart-arse dialogue that works perfectly. The rest of the characters are standard cliché types: the quiet kid who discovers he has backbone, the cowardly overweight boss, the tough black guy, the tough guy with a sad past, etc.
All in all, if you're the kind of person who would rent a movie called Alien Raiders then you'll probably be happy with this one. Personally I need this kind of movie to have something a little more: some social or political commentary, or some witty dialogue, or at least for the story to not be totally predictable.
Alien Raiders should be how good most of these movies are, but most sf/horror I've seen is worse. My disillusionment with the horror genre in general continues - I am no longer content for a horror movie to just be "good enough".
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