Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Daniel Southworth, Avery Clyde, Sam McConkey, James Luca, “Tank”
Directed by Dustin Rikert
Distributed by Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Alien Invasion Arizona may very well boast the single loopiest title that Lionsgate has ever slapped on a film. The original title was The Salena Incident, but for some reason Lionsgate decided it needed a new title to go along with the usual eye-catching artwork that makes the film look more appealing than it actually is. Somehow, some way, someone at Lionsgate decided that Alien Invasion Arizona was a better title. My guess would be that whoever that person was they never actually watched the movie. I suspect they just knew it was about evil aliens that crash land in Arizona and came up with the new title after thinking it over for about 15 seconds.
Complaining about the insipid title is really a moot point since the movie itself is rather insipid too; uninspired even more so. There’s nothing especially wrong with it aside from just being a tired concept we’ve all seen done a billion times before in similar movies and I’d reckon at least 750 million of them were better.
A UFO crashes in a small Arizona town called Salena. A small platoon of Special Forces soldiers is sent in to deal with the alien threat. This mostly involves skulking about some dimly lit mines for the first five minutes of the film. Suffice to say, things do not go well for them.
Meanwhile, a prison transport bus is in the process of delivering four death row killers to their new confines – criminals only indistinguishable by their stereotype: Aryan skinhead, loco Hispanic, angry black man, and mafia goomba. It turns out that the goomba has organized a prison escape with the help of a pair of busty henchwomen in a convertible. The bus conveniently blows a tire out on a deserted desert highway, and almost instantly, here comes a pair of blondes that look to be smuggling midgets under their tight tops. Everything goes according to the escape plan thanks to most of the prison guards reacting as if they’re the ones that have been locked up in a maximum security prison for years without female contact. These guards’ speech patterns also left me wondering if this prison had a policy of only hiring guys that sounded like Larry the Cable Guy. Just as the girl that doesn’t have sex gets to be the heroine in a slasher flick, this movie seemed to follow the rule that the prison guard that doesn’t sound like he belongs on the Blue Collar Comedy Tour gets to be the main good guy.
The prison escapees take captive two guards and the attractive female nurse that the main guard has the hots for (Cue romantic subplot!) and lead them to the virtual ghost town that is Salena, Arizona. Those mines that the aliens are lurking about in run right beneath most of the buildings, so I think you can pretty much guess what sort of trouble this leads to for everyone involved.
Frankly, this film could have been called Prison Break Arizona since the majority of the first half is alien-free – not even illegal aliens, and this movie is set in Arizona, for goodness sake. Outside of the opening spaceship crash and pre-title soldier sequence, much of the next forty some odd minutes are devoted to the goings-on between these uninteresting criminals and the even less interesting prison guards, with only a few brief cutaways to the plight of the last remaining special ops soldier trying to survive down in the mineshaft. They will eventually encounter this soldier later on so that he can explain to them the plot, particularly the part about how the Pentagon is planning to send in fighter jets to wipe Salena off the map if the alien threat isn’t neutralized in x-amount of time.
A pretty good summary of events would be: people get killed by aliens, get their bodies taken over by aliens, run from aliens, fight the aliens, argue amongst themselves, fight amongst themselves, work together, and other assorted stuff that bored the hell out of me – not necessarily in that order.
Alien Invasion Arizona is just a great big ball of blah. It’s stale and uneventful. Even the aliens fail to entertain. There’s a variety of very rubbery aliens primarily brought to life via forms of puppetry; some have big claws or look like a toothy Brundlefly and others are parasites that can invade a person’s body. Director Dustin Rikert goes the old fashioned route of not giving the monsters much screen time; a really smart move in this case since the creatures are even phonier looking than what we’re generally used to these days.
The movie also feels like a missed opportunity once it’s revealed towards the end that the alien spacecraft was itself a prison transport vessel and that the invading aliens are actually extraterrestrial prison escapees themselves. You’d never know this because the aliens just behave like killer aliens always do in movies like this, showing virtually no signs of intelligence or cunning. Too bad the makers of Alien Invasion Arizona couldn’t be bothered to explore the dichotomy of these dueling prison-breaking factions instead of just making yet another dull and unimaginative rerun of countless other aliens amok on earth movies we’ve all seen too many of.
This wasn’t special enough to warrant any.
1 out of 5
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