Creature (aka Alien Lockdown) (2004)

Starring: John Savage, Michelle Goh, James Marshall, T.M. van Ostrand, Nathan Perez, David Kallaway, Martin Kove
: Tim Cox
: 2 (
Europe, Japan, South Africa and the Middle East including Egypt)


You know you're in trouble when the movie you're renting has "We Are Not Alone" as its tagline on the DVD cover.

Yup, when you steal, steal from the best and best known so that no-one would notice I always say. (The tagline is of course taken from Steven Spielberg's 1977 classic Close Encounters of the Third Kind in case the tagline seemed awfully familiar, but you couldn't quite place it.)

Things get worse with the plot: a meteorite containing a piece of kryptonite hits the Earth in ancient times. Er, sorry, the meteorite actually contains a lumpy green jewel which its discoverers believe contain magical powers. Soon wars are fought over it and its owners cart it around in an "ark of darkness" (heh, heh) which is lost, but is rediscovered by one professor Indiana Jones in the 20th century.

No, actually I lie. It is discovered in modern times by archaeologists resembling Harley Davison bikers, replete with tattoos, bandanas, leather outfits, shades and so on. (Now, I hardly know any archaeologists, but both this movie and the recent Timeline movie feature the most unlikely archaeologists: in Timeline they looked like the trendy victims in a teen slasher movie . . .)

The krypt . . . er sorry, lumpy green jewel in fact contains DNA instructions on how to genetically construct an alien being. (This is pretty amazing when one considers that the jewel is no bigger than your hand!) That the alien being looks like a Predator with its dreadlocks shaved off and its head pasted unto the body of an H.R. Giger alien design should have set off alarms at the legal department of 20th Century Fox. I mean, just look at the picture on this page!

Yup, every time that pred . . ., er sorry, alien creature opened its mouth I wished that someone would sue the cheap asses of whoever made this movie. Not just for copyright infringement, but for a dull derivative story which I knew how it would end within the first ten minutes of the movie.

Said pred . . . er, sorry . . . alien creature is reconstructed at a top secret isolated research facility in the Rocky Mountains. It is a mean vicious near indestructible killing machine that hops along on all four legs like a dog (which made me laugh each time I saw it do this) and reminded me of the cowardly lion in Wizard of Oz for some reason.

Naturally the alien escapes. (Actually it is set free by a mad scientist type played by John Savage, who decided that a mumbling Marlon Brando impersonation was the best performance choice.) Havoc ensues and the facility is locked down (see Resident Evil) and a small squad of soldiers is sent to clean up things (see Aliens).

Soon they are chased down the same green-lit corridors for an eternity by the alien monster (see Aliens again) and alien face huggers, er sorry, CGI alien baby monsters. In the end the lab is blown by a handy tactical nuke self-destruction device - something architects always think of installing when they design this sort of facility. (Hope I didn't spoil that for you, but you were kind of expecting that to happen, weren't you?)

Anyway, the movie in question is called Creature, but is known as Alien Lockdown in the States - a bad sign. It was made especially for TV, in this case the Sci-Fi Channel, which always just screams quality and classy entertainment.

Okay, I'm sorry. One of my new year's resolutions was that I'd be less sarcastic on these pages - but Lord! I just can't help myself. In fairness the movie does its best under the circumstances. The production values aren't too bad with the minimal sets being effectively utilised thanks to some clever editing and camera work. (The director of photography was an X-Files regular.) With a few exceptions the CGI and animatronic special effects aren't too bad either.

(Incidentally, the special effects supervisor is a fellow South African by the name of Willie Botha. He is assisted by a whole horde of Bulgarians whose surnames are either Pavlov, Popov, Stemov or something ending with 'ov. No Fokovs though. Anyway this is the same outfit that produced the dismally poor - and actually inferior - Spiders II: Breeding Ground cheapie.)

Director Cox also isn't too bad at staging action scenes (unlike the also made-for-the-Sci-Fi Channel movie Dragon Storm where all the actors just stood around awkwardly not knowing what to do) and the lighting is quite creative. But at least some originality would have been nice. Every time that alien monster came into view it just screamed lawsuit . . . and not one to side with huge multinational media companies I still hoped that 20th Century Fox lawyers were swarming over this movie's makers like locusts right then for making me sit through something this unoriginal . . .

WORTH IT? Hell, no.

RECOMMENDATION: I never thought I'd ever say this: Creature is better than Dragon Storm but worse than Starship Troopers 2 - Hero of the Federation, which is a better bet when it comes to the straight-to-video fodder stakes.



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