Hey gang, Valkor here. These next two in the lineup of films about to get the TOV treatment feature stars from the past and currently filming Expendables films; first up is Jean-Claude Van Damme, who passed on the first film but jumped all over the second. However in Alien Uprising, he's in the film for all of five minutes and it begs the question: was it really worth it? Major spoilers ahead!
Alien Uprising puts the focus on a group of friends – Dana (Maya Grant), Robin (Simon Philips), Vincent (Jazz Lintott), Michael (Sean Brosnan), and Michael's one night stand now in it for the long haul Carrie (Bianca Bree). After a night out filled with clubbing, drinking, and a marriage proposal, the group awaken to find out there's no power anywhere, landlines down, and cell towers sending out no signal. At first the cause is unknown, but later a giant UFO appears, hovering over the town, which sends everyone in a panic. We as the viewer follow along with this group of five as they not only try to deal with the stress of the situation, but that which is the powder keg of humanity.
That's right, humanity takes center stage; forget the name or the box art as the aliens don't make much of an appearance until the end of the film. But we watch as the characters deal with growing tensions amongst themselves as well as those around them such as fear, anger, racism, thirst for survival, and suffering. Fear leads to anger… anger leads to hate… hate leads to suffering? Now where have I heard that before?? What about the aliens and Jean-Claude? Well the characters also have to deal with the "aliens walk amongst us" angle, where it's revealed that one of them isn't who they appear to be. On top of that there's an all-out alien battle at the end, which is also rather confusing. And Jean Claude? He plays an ex-military type named George, who knows more about the aliens than anyone would have expected. Unfortunately, he's blown to bits just as his character was starting to show some interest.
Alien Uprising has a lot going for it – a lot! It's filled with crazy edits, a thumping soundtrack, a fierce end battle, and lens flare… lots and lots of lens flare. There's so much of it, JJ Abrams went "GOD DAMN THAT'S A LOT OF LENS FLARE".
Alien Uprising has an interesting story to tell that plays on the emotional, human side of things rather than the direct conflict between men versus aliens. We see how, in the midst of a crisis, humans respond to an unknown threat, which is basically to panic and turn against one another. It makes you think, if ever such a situation were to occur, how would we as a people react to it? And this film pretty much nails it in that respect. The most touching moments are when the African woman, who merely wants food to feed her kids, is bullied by a couple of racist types who want to get their food first before anyone else. Another emotional trip is the attempted rape of Dana by Vincent; turns out the two had a little somethin-somethin going on in the past, and after Robin is fatally shot, Vincent decides to step up. But dude it's too soon! I mean, he just died and now you wanna make move? It's pretty trippy. In short, it's a pretty cool story, bro.
Where do I begin: The bad editing, the heavy use of lens flare, or Jean Claude's cameo? I don't normally point fingers at the technical aspects of a film, but this one is kind of obvious and the editing is atrocious. The opening scene alone with the mix of lens flare, crazy music, military chatter, and sudden flashbacks will make your head spin - it's a mess and all throughout the film, I'm wondering why the choice of quick edits? This isn't a music video. The lens flare effect is way, way too heavy here. Again I point fingers at the opening scene, but the effect is scattered throughout the film anytime someone flashes a light or lights up a torch. Too much! Then we have Van Damme's cameo – it's the most uneventful cameo ever. I bet you ten bucks he was on the set checking in on his daughter (Bianca Bree), when the director geeks out and tosses him into the film; his entire scene feels like it was tossed in last minute and even his dialogue appears unscripted. But for the most part he's just… well he's there, not doing much of anything. How's that for a kicker? You show up for a five minute role and get your name on the cover of the box? Where do I sign? Next up: that ending, which has a lot going on. But my main confusion comes from the alien attack. So there are these two soldiers who come face to face with an alien ship that minutes ago blasted George (Van Damme) to bits. Suddenly another ship appears and blows that ship away and now it's an all out alien war! WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON? Who are these new aliens? It's a cool battle, but we need more explanation as the ships appear quite similar. Finally, the film doesn't know how to end. FYI everyone dies, but how they get to that point (which includes the rape scene and the alien battle), appear to be too much.
Poor George. He's just a puddle of his former self now.
Alien Uprising is available now in the UK as U.F.O. but it'll get a stateside release on December 17th (according to Amazon). And I'll ask you to run, not walk to your nearest retailer and pick up ANYTHING ELSE other than this film on that day. Sure the plot is interesting but nothing else, not even a cameo appearance by Jean-Claude Van Damme himself, can save this film from being shoved directly into the bargain bin. And out of TOV 5 stars, Alien Uprising gets a 1.