The promise of the multi-screen future-history info-dump that kicks off Alien Outpost isn’t enough to mask this military sci-fi indie’s repetitive familiarity: Yes, it’s set in the 2030s, a decade after a failed alien invasion, when the U.S. military sweeps the deserts of Pakistan for laser-blasting E.T. stragglers, but the upshot is that viewers are still stuck for 90 minutes watching actors in camo gear shout “Go! Go! Go!” while dashing around drab scrubland.
Occasionally there’s a firefight, but that mostly means the movie gets louder and harder to follow. The Americans blast and holler, but the shots of them firing their conventional arms from behind cover have a coherent payoff only occasionally. The aliens turn up half an hour in, but mostly have CGI cameo roles: They lumber, they shoot, they die. Our boys, meanwhile, at least get quick, arresting scenes of military hazing and camaraderie — but it’s weird that they’re strictly our boys, as the tendency of American life, and the armed forces in particular, is to get more integrated with each year.
If you missed the title cards, and didn’t think too hard about the occasional laser, you could mistake much of Alien Outpost for an on-the-cheap Lone Survivor — there’s dead goats, an ersatz suicide bomber, villagers who must be told to stand down by an
interpreter. The space fantasy ratchets up a bit in the last fifteen minutes, as does the tension, but the movie, directed by a
special-effects supervisor on Game of Thrones, never achieves anything like the grandeur you might hope for from its premise. Its conclusion does go all-in on the courage and sacrifice of the soldiers in its made-up conflict, so maybe it’ll be a huge hit anyway.
They should have called it American Alien Shooters.