Retro-review: Available to rent/own on Amazon Prime!

51 (2011)

Directed by Jason Connery.
Written by Kenny Yakkel, Lucy Muckerjee.
Starring Bruce Boxleitner, Jason London, Rachel Miner, Vanessa Branch, John Shea

The legend of Area 51 has been around for ages with many a wild theory tossed around as to what really goes on in the mysterious military establishment. Being an addict of Discovery Channel, Sci Fi and other reality TV and Youtube documentaries, I was immediately interested in the concept behind After Dark Original’s film 51. Though the material teeters between sci fi and horror, 51 has enough scares and monsters to qualify for a mention.

Though 51 is a cut above most of the regular SyFy films, it still falls short of actually being something worth recommending. Bruce Boxleitner plays an army Sergeant in charge of the Area 51 facility prepping his troops for a visit by the press to finally uncover the secrets of the facility. Of course, they do not intend to give full disclosure as to the alien goings on that occur at the facility. Instead, they intend to settle the public suspicion by giving away a secret or two. The plan is actually pretty well played, though clunkily carried out, with this deception only fooling the press momentarily. Of course, this wouldn’t be a film if everything worked out well and when aliens start escaping the facility, the press are in for the story of their lives.

Well, not really. This film devolves into your typical monster on the loose plot pretty quickly with the reporters and some select military stuck in lockdown with a variety of aliens roaming around and picking them off one by one. To save money, one of the aliens is a shape shifter, much like the T-1000 shape shifter, who wanders around assuming forms when it fits the plot. The potential of the plot of a group of alien prisoners escaping a government facility is high, but budgetary limitations make it impossible to achieve the promise of being cool. Shots are chopped in such a way so the viewer can’t really see the man in a monster suit clumsily trying to move on camera which immediately takes away any dramatic tension.

The film sports some decent performances by Rachel Miner (who as usual delivers her lines in her shaky, tweaked out manner) and Jason London (who doesn’t seem to really want to be there) as army soldiers who thought Area 51 was supposed to be a fluff job and are forced to dig deep within the well of heroism in order to survive. John Shea (LOIS & CLARK’s Lex Luthor) takes a decent spin as a Geraldo type, and some of the monster makeup is fun (always nice to see a man in suit instead of bad CGI). Plus, one of the aliens wears what looks to be a flesh-colored body suit with thick brown veins which looks like a skin tone version Charlie’s Green Man costume from IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILIDELPHIA.

Though better than most SyFy flicks, that’s not saying much. Some thrills are within, but you have to sift through a lot of slack acting and lame effects in 51 to get them.

Check out the trailer here!!