Two Sci Fi Essentials from Image
Alien Siege (December 4/07)
With a premise straight out of The Outer Limits, Alien Siege initially comes off as a low-budget yet basically entertaining science fiction tale that eventually (and quickly) wears out its welcome in a big way. It's a shame, really, as the set-up is actually fairly decent; a dying species conquers earth and subsequently demands the sacrifice of 8 million inhabitants (whose blood will be used to find a cure for their disease). Brad Johnson's Stephen Chase forms a minor rebellion after his daughter (Erin Ross' Heather) is selected as one of the 8 million, while Carl Weathers and Lilas Lane co-star as, respectively, a sympathetic military man and a scrappy resistance fighter (Ray Baker pops up briefly as the President). The movie's 89-minute running time proves to be about an hour longer than the story demands, and there's little doubt that the filmmakers have attempted to compensate for this by including a number of desperate and downright uninspired action sequences. The end result is a piece of work that's only sporadically interesting; once the novelty of the film's admittedly irresistible premise wears off (which unfortunately happens well before the half-hour mark), the viewer is left with a badly-acted and poorly-conceived sci-fi effort.
Manticore (December 4/07)
While not as terrible as one might've surmised, Manticore nevertheless suffers from a distinctly uneven sense of pacing and special effects that are almost uniformly unimpressive (the exceedingly low budget with which the film has been shot is oftentimes all-too-apparent). The story follows several gung-ho Army soldiers - including Star Trek: Voyager's Robert Beltran and The Blair Witch Project's Heather Donahue - as they're sent into a remote Iraqi village to retrieve a missing journalist (Chase Masterson's Ashley Pierce), though it's not long before the various characters find themselves face to face with a vicious, centuries-old creature known as the Manticore. There's little doubt that Manticore suffers from an awfully flabby midsection that just about stops the movie dead in its tracks, and - despite some surprisingly effective work from folks like Beltran and Donahue - it does become difficult to overlook the increasingly tedious and flat-out uneventful nature of John Werner's screenplay. It is worth noting that the film recovers nicely for a surprisingly thrilling finale, however, and one can't help but smile at one character's reference to the titular creature as the "perfect beast."
|About the DVDs: Both films arrive on DVD courtesy of Image Entertainment armed with anamorphically-enhanced transfers, and although Manticore comes up empty in terms of bonus features, Alien Siege includes a photo gallery and a commentary track with director Robert Stadd and actors Nathan Anderson, Michael Cory Davis, and Lilas Lane. Unfortunately, both films are presented without English subtitles or closed captions.