Area 51

Area 51

aka 51

2011
Written by Lucy Mukerjee
Story by Kenny Yakkel
Directed by Jason Connery

Area 51
Aliens just can’t make Jello correctly…

Area 51 is a more unique SyFy offering. Instead of the usual CGI effects chasing our heroes around, instead we have monsters made of largely practical effects and makeup mixed with CGI. It actually rules, because it’s so unexpected. The effects work is pretty good, the various monster costumes are full costume props, some of them being large wearable puppet constructs. The only alien costume I didn’t like was the one for Patient Zero, because it looked too much like a guy in a full body suit. This reminds me of the Don Dohler films, which was some nice nostalgia. And Area 51 is better than many of those!

Area 51
You think this is crazy, guess what they got in Area 52!

By far not the first flick to feature Area 51 or aliens fighting people in Area 51, Area 51 does give us a variety of creatures causing a variety of problems. The different stories sort of weave together, but have a bit of trouble trying to find a narrative whole. The different creatures with their own different agendas gives them more characterization than usual in a SyFy style flick. The fact that not all of the monsters are mindless killing machines was a great touch that needs to be used more in other creature features.

Area 51
Suddenly the alien thinks he’s Neo!

The basic story is the press are being let into Area 51 for the first time as part of a media transparency thing, except they are only going to get to see a tiny part of the base and nothing cool. Until things go wrong… Alien killing spree wrong!

Colonel Ronald Martin (Bruce Boxleitner) – The guy in charge of Area 51 who leads the tour and the eventual attempt to clean up the monster massacre.
Claire Fallon (Vanessa Branch) – A rabble-rousing muckeraker blogger who is famous all over the world. Takes up the fine tradition of Lois Lane-style female journalists (a trope that predates Lois Lane back to at least the Torchy Blane films) in that she fights the system and doesn’t put up with bullies. Even alien bullies
Sam Whittaker (John Shea) – A famous news reporter who is inside the system, sort of like Ted Kopple. He is also on the Area 51 tour along with his camerawoman.
Sgt. Hannah (Rachel Miner) – One of the guards on the base, a decorated war hero who is uncomfortable with the recognition because she doesn’t feel she earned it. Becomes the de facto commander of the guards tasked with not letting any of the aliens escape from the underground compound after everyone of higher rank is slaughtered.
Aaron “Shoes” Schumacher (Jason London) – Shoes is one of the guards who believes in the alien conspiracies. Can’t handle combat and shot himself in the foot to avoid it. But when aliens are attacking he managed to find courage to be under fire. Helps his friend Sgt. Hannah contain the situation.

The aliens at Area 51:

Patient Zero (Jed Maheu) – A morpher, meaning this alien can change his form into whoever he touches due to replicating DNA, and can repeat any words said by the target. This subject crashed 25 years ago and occasionally is let out to impersonate President Reagan. Is usually no trouble, except for the murderous killing spree Patient Zero goes on today. Suddenly impersonating Reagan makes sense…
J-Rod (VyVy Nguyen and Rob Steinberg – voice) – Alien Grey who lives on the base and helps his friends the humans communicate with the aliens and type up reports. Has telekenetic powers and the power to code computers while being afk. His entire belief system might turn out to be a lie… But at least he can probably get a high-paying coding job in Silicon Valley!
Lady Death and Little Devil (Ivan Djurovic and VyVy Nguyen) – alien monsters that are simply wild hyperpredators. Little Devil is Lady Death’s spawn. This creatures can’t be reasoned with and just blindly kill anyone they see.
Area 51
Time to die, Smurf!

Area 51
Hey, that sign says not to stand there, buddy!

Patient Zero engineers the whole mess. Lady Death and Little Devil are acting up, then Patient Zero escapes in the confusion thanks to the dumbest guard in the universe always shooting the real people when Patient Zero morphs into them. Patient Zero lets the other aliens out. The two monster aliens slaughter scores of people and cause Hannah and Shoes all sorts of problems trying to contain them, especially when they manage to kill Little Devil, making Lady Death even more mad.

The panic and problems cause Colonel Martin to show more of the base than he intended, including that there are more levels and aliens there. Including friendly alien J-Rod. J-Rod’s voice is a Speak and Spell voice, and it goes slower than the allotted time the actors gave for the alien’s lines, thus the actors end up talking over the last few words of each of his sentences, making it sound like they are being really rude to him. Poor J-Rod! J-Rod sets up the self-destruction program to go off in case they fail to recapture the other aliens.

Upstairs, things are not going well. Some of Colonel Martin’s now dead men have given Hannah a “Popper”, basically the minicricket from Men In Black, while Shoes has a laser point that transmits a frequency that causes Lady Death pain. They plan is to put a bunch of explosives in a jeep and lure Lady Death nearby, where a badly wounded soldier will blow it up. But he dies before he can pull the trigger! Lady Death kills everyone who isn’t Hannah and Shoes, even as Hannah also fails to set off the bombs (they just don’t go off) and Shoes repels Lady Death with the pointer device.

Down below, the layers of conspiracy get peeled away with Patient Zero is found watching an alien autopsy video while aside the dead alien body that is being cut up. It is Patient One, his partner and love. Patient Zero is understandably very upset. J-Rod can’t control him, and loses incentive to when J-Rod sees that his alien grey friend who died in the crash at Roswell is also there and cut up. J-Rod realizes that Colonel Martin has been lying to everyone for years and they purposely shot down his ship.

J-Rod is convinced not to kill Colonel Martin, but Patient Zero then tries to kill J-Rod, Sam taking the bullet. Patient Zero escapes into the vent. Upstairs, they finally get Lady Death near enough to the jeep and blow up the jeep, killing her.

Area 51
Don’t shoot the handicapped alien!
Area 51
I’m outta here, I got to do motion-capture for the next Perfect Dark game…

Now it’s time to get off the base, as the self-destruct controls are happening! Oh, and at some point Sam got replaced by Patient Zero and kills Colonel Martin before being killed himself.

The remaining heroes (Hannah, Shoes, Claire, J-Rod, Sam’s Camerawoman) escape in a jeep as Area 51 explodes in an atomic blast. Despite having no refrigerator to hide in, all of the heroes survive and drive right to a TV station, where J-Rod goes live on the air for an interview.

Area 51 features my favorite thing to see in SyFy flicks – effort! Effort to make it different, make it a unique and good movie. Effort to make the monsters diverse and memorable. Characters who have actual characterization and motivations, who aren’t just cartoons. There is talent here in the writing and the creature creation. Though Patient Zero is ultimately less creative than he seems upon first glance, J-Rod is pulled off really well. The Little Devil/Lady Death monsters suffer from being a gigantic wearable puppet that has limited maneuverability, though that is nothing a higher budget couldn’t fix. They are still pretty creative, managing to invoke the feel of Aliens without ripping off the Aliens wholesale. The odd pacing and the few characters obviously introduced just to die show some script problems, but those moments pale beneath the rest of the good work.

Area 51 packs on the charm, and is well worth your time. What other SyFy flick can claim to have a little alien dude running around with the heroes? A diversity of monsters besides the usual two different monsters that fight is also a welcome change. Area 51 covers the role of old vs. new media with the muckraking blogger character and the old school television anchor. It handles the aliens at Roswell conspiracy. It openly borrows from successful franchises that are always borrowed from without looking too guilty. There are cool side characters like the always serious Lt. Kemeki.

Will Area 51 be looked at as one of SyFy’s future classics? I sure hope so.

Area 51
The real monster!
Area 51
The best actor in the film

Rated 8/10 (hanger, photographer, blood, baby, blasted toes, the bomb, more numbers, reporter)


Please give feedback below!

Email us and tell us how much we suck!

Area 51
They say an alien is in this photo, but I can’t see anything thanks to the camouflage!
Area 51
Those are veins, not hair!
Area 51
My…iPad watch???
Area 51
Whoever wins…must by snacks for the next meeting!
Area 51
3D movies suck!
Area 51
It’s a Mexican standoff, except they’re all aliens and people
Area 51
Can you believe Perez Hilton was too busy to be the influential blogger character?
Area 51
That’s it, we’re going back to Area 50…
Area 51
Noxzema, bitches!

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Written by Tars Tarkas

Tars Tarkas

Runs this joint!