Alien Outpost (Blu-ray) (2014)
|Category||Sci-Fi Action||Trailer-x 5 for other films|
|Year Of Production||2014|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Ads Then Menu|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Jabbar Raisani|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, scene after end credits|
In 2021 the Earth was attacked by aliens; they were large, humanoid creatures with heavy body armour (think the Predator) who became known as “Heavies”. Humanity fought back; millions were killed but in 2022 the alien ships retreated, leaving behind thousands of their soldiers in remote areas of the planet. To seek out and destroy the remaining Heavies operating bases, outposts, were established in remote areas and for ten years the war continued. Outpost 37, in the hostile terrain of the Pakistan / Afghanistan border, is the most dangerous and deadly post on Earth, isolated from support and suffering almost daily attacks by Heavies and local tribesmen.
Some time ago I reviewed on this site Restrepo (2010), an award winning documentary where author Sebastian Junger (The Perfect Storm) and photographer Tim Hetherington were embedded with the men of the Second Platoon, Battle Company, 503 Infantry Regiment, on deployment at Outpost Restrepo in the Korengal Valley, eastern Afghanistan, the place christened the “Valley of Death”. The documentary consisted of raw footage filmed with hand held cameras in the midst of the action, footage of soldiers relaxing and candid interviews with the soldiers. Alien Outpost (aka Outpost 37) uses the same concept and techniques as Restrepo, raw, handheld footage of firefights interspersed with interviews, but it is fiction and adds aliens to the mix for good measure.
Alien Outpost commences with an unnamed journalist and cameraman accompanying three soldiers who have just been assigned to Outpost 37: Alex Omohundro (Joe Reegan), Frankie Forello (Sven Ruygrok) and Ryan Andros (Reiley McClendon). The outpost is commanded by the experienced Captain Spears (Rick Ravanello) and Lieutenant North (Matthew Holmes), and the closeness, hijinks and comradery of the soldiers already there make it difficult for the new men to fit in until they can prove themselves, which is not long in coming as the enemy attack the outpost in force. As causalities mount, it seems that the Heavies have changed their tactics and have a new intelligence controlling their actions and Outpost 37 is in danger of being overrun. Then Spears receives information about the possible location of the controlling mind so the men embark on a desperate mission that may just save humanity.
Alien Outpost was co-written / directed by Jabbar Raisani; it is his first feature but he has a background in visual effects, including on Game of Thrones, which is used to good effect in Alien Outpost. While the Heavies look a bit clunky, they are infrequently and fleetingly seen; the effects during the fighting, however, such as explosions, tracers or rockets are impressive and the carnage to bodies graphic and bloody. The conceit that this is genuine front line battle footage allows Raisani and co-writer / cinematographer Blake Clifton to use swaying and jumpy camerawork, out of focus and partially framed shots and deliberate artefacts, such as blocking and speckles of interference, to provide an exciting and very immediate experience like being in the middle of a firefight. There are quite a few intense battle sequences in the film but they are juxtaposed with the interview footage, which quiets the action for a while and allows us to get to know the various soldiers, so that when there are causalities, and there are, it hits home.
Alien Outpost is a film about isolated men facing great danger from an almost unseen enemy. It is a descendent of any number of westerns, with soldiers inside a fort, or foreign legion films, updated to Afghanistan. It is Restrepo with aliens, a quasi-documentary that feels so real it must be said that the filmmakers have achieved their intentions.
Alien Outpost is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, close the original ratio of 1.85:1, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.
Due to the way the film was shot using handheld cameras simulating real battle conditions with jumpy pans, zooms, deliberate out of focus, partially composed shots and added artefacts, Alien Outpost cannot be judged by the usual standards. The interview footage is sharp but most of the rest is soft with some detail lacking. But this was supposed to be how the film looks and, from one who feels queasy-cam is overdone, I think in this case it works very effectively to put the viewer into the middle of a chaotic firefight. Within this restriction, colours are natural, blacks and shadow detail fine, brightness and contrast consistent, skin tones good.
There were deliberate artefacts but I did not notice other artefacts or marks.
There are no subtitles.
The only audio is English DTS-HD MA 5.1.
This audio is a loud and enveloping track. Dialogue is clear, although sometimes muted by battle noise. During the fighting the surrounds and rears are full of gunshots, rocket launches and hits, debris and explosions. The sub-woofer effectively supported the explosions, bullets, general mayhem and the music.
The score by Theo Green was used sparsely, supporting the quasi-documentary conceit of the film. It was effective when used.
There are no lip synchronisation issues.
|Surround Channel Use|
Trailers for Howl (2:11), Lap Dance (1:30), Electra Slide (2:16) and Grassland (1:58) play on start-up. They cannot be selected from the menu.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The US Region A Blu-ray of Alien Outpost includes cast and crew interviews (16:23), deleted scenes (3:22) and an audio commentary by director / co-writer Jabbar Raisani and DP / co-writer Blake Clifton so it is the better release if your system can handle Region A.
Alien Outpost delivers what it sets out to do; provide a quasi-documentary look at soldiers in an isolated outpost / fort dealing with a hostile environment, barely seen enemies and their own fears, aspirations and insecurities. This is US soldiers in Afghanistan, with aliens. But as everything was foreign and alien to most of the coalition forces stationed in Afghanistan, the addition of actual aliens from another world hardly changes the experience at all!
If you enjoy uncompromising, chaotic, real looking action sci-fi, Alien Outpost has a lot to offer.
The video is as the filmmakers intended, the audio loud and enveloping. There are no relevant extras.
|DVD||Sony BDP-S580, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||NAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Speakers||Studio Acoustics 5.1|