Everyone knows about Area 51 and just what they like to think is kept in there, hidden away from prying civilian eyes by the military, and this movie does nothing to change your opinion of it.
It’s a new era. Bowing to public and political pressure, the military is finally letting a few select individuals into Area 51 in an attempt to put the public at ease and prove, once and for all, that there are no aliens hidden away inside. Of course, there are aliens hidden away inside and they pick this day, of all days, to cause some major problems.
In many ways, 51 is yet another mediocre genre movie on a par with most of the other After Dark films from this year but it certainly tries to rise above the low budget and obvious limitations in places. It’s just a shame that it still doesn’t do enough to succeed.
The direction, from Jason Connery, isn’t too bad but many amateur errors are made. Repeated use of generic scenery, over-editing to compensate for other shortcomings, an inability to glide over some of the more ridiculous aspects, etc.
The script by Lucy Mukerjee (from Kenny Yakkel’s story) doesn’t really help. Clumsy exposition segueways into clichéd and shallow characterisations before a second half in which the actors are all stuck uttering some ridiculous and cheesy lines while things lead up to a predictable climax.
Bruce Boxleitner isn’t too bad as the colonel forced to finally let civilians into his domain, John Shea is fine as reporter Sam Whittaker and Vanessa Branch is bearable, I suppose. The real pain comes from watching Jason London and Rachel Miner, with the two actors saddled with the very worst characters of the movie, due to the constant barrage of stereotypes and awful “macho” dialogue.
Surprisingly, compared to some other movies from this range, the effects are quite good at times, another saving grace. But there’s not really enough bloodshed to keep horror fans happy, not really enough tension to keep anyone on edge and just not quite enough simple entertainment value to make this a priority in your viewing schedule.
51 is available on DVD and Blu-ray now if you have an urge to waste some money.
DIRECTOR: JASON CONNERY
STARS: BRUCE BOXLEITNER, JOHN SHEA, VANESSA BRANCH, JASON LONDON, RACHEL MINER
RUNTIME: 90 MINS APPROX