There’s a pretty significant lie in the title of Alien Outpost. It’s the false promise that there might actually be some aliens in the film from time to time. If you wanted to attempt some truth in advertising a more appropriate title would be Dickhole Soldier Outpost or Operation: Naptime. Posed as a sub-Blomkamp “documentary” about the militaristic consequences of a near-future alien invasion, Alien Outpost has the feel of a warfare video game that features way too many thoroughly unlikeable soldier bullies idling their time and not nearly enough aliens brutally murdering them. It’s what I imagine Battlefield Earth would be like if you spent most of the runtime with the rat-brained man animals and Travolta only had a small cameo.
The aliens in question (known as “heavies” here), aren’t particularly interesting (especially in light of that Battlefield Earth Psychlo comparison), but they’re far and away the most entertaining element in a film where entertainment is in short supply. They’re tall, grey, humanoids who are running desperately low on laser “ammo” and are being hunted by American soldiers in a Middle Eastern outpost that I’m sure is supposed to call up metaphorical comparisons to the Iraqi occupation or something along those lines. Both that metaphor and the general nature of “the heavies” remain frustratingly undefined as the film focuses on the endangered, yet trivial lives of the soldiers stationed at Outpost 37. As the movie puts it, “This is the story of the men fighting a war the world has chosen to forget.” Unfortunately, the men mentioned there (and, by extension, the movie that surrounds them) is just as forgettable as the war. More of the grey, ill-defined “heavies” would be a blessing compared to what’s actually delivered.
The Blomkamp documentary format is a lot of what’s wrong with the film on a structural level, as it tends to tell instead of show (like showing more aliens for instance). However, its main fault is that none of its ideas are well-developed enough to be memorable. The only moment that suggests an intricate exploration of its world is when a soldier is temporarily paralyzed by a bite from a “numb bug”, an invasive species of insect that infested Earth after hitching a ride here with the “heavies”. More original ideas specific to this world like the numb bugs would be appreciated, but are few & far between. The film instead focuses on far-from-compelling soldier dicks when it should find more of a fascination with the alien beasts that are trying to kill them. There’s nothing particularly new about the soldiers or the heavies compared to other sci-fi action flicks, but at least a movie focusing on the heavies would have a much better chance of being entertaining.