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Alien Nation

4.4 out of 5 stars 91 customer reviews

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(Mar 27, 2001)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Thought-provoking, witty and entertaining, this action-packed blend of science fiction and police drama finds Los Angeles the new home of 300,000 humanoid extraterrestrial. When a gang of these Newcomers kills a police detective's (JAMES CANN) partner, he sets out to solve the crime with his new partner (MANDY PATINKIN) - the L.A.P.D.'s first Newcomer detective. But the unlikely pair soon uncover a far more dangerous threat to society.

They get drunk on sour milk. They have two hearts and bald, spotted heads. They're highly intelligent, but if you drop them in seawater they'll melt into a puddle of goop. They're "Newcomers," and they arrived as refugees in a massive alien slave-ship, quarantined for three years and then reluctantly accepted as citizens of Earth. To some humans--including seasoned Los Angeles cop Matt Sykes (James Caan)--the Newcomers are unwelcome "slags." Sykes's own virulent "speciesism" intensifies when Newcomer thugs kill his partner, but he sees logic in teaming up with Sam Francisco (Mandy Patinkin), the first Newcomer detective in the LAPD. Francisco's Newcomer knowledge is vital to their investigation of an alien drug ring, and a friendship grows from life-or-death circumstances.

A routine cop thriller with a comedic sci-fi twist, Alien Nation> has two things working in its favor: Caan and Patinkin form a memorable duo, and the basic premise--as conceived by Rockne S. O'Bannon (who later developed the film as a TV series)--intelligently accounts for the sociological impact of an alien population. The subtle point is made that humans are extraordinary beings who squander their potential, and the evil of drugs--as dealt by a social-climbing Newcomer played by Terence Stamp--leads to a crisis that threatens to generate global intolerance. These points are well presented in a context of overly familiar plotting and standard-issue sarcasm. It's entertaining for a brisk 90 minutes, but in its attempt to be widely appealing, Alien Nation glosses over issues that might have made it more uniquely provocative. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features

  • Behind-the-scenes clips

Product Details

  • Actors: James Caan, Mandy Patinkin, Terence Stamp, Kevyn Major Howard, Leslie Bevis
  • Directors: Graham Baker
  • Writers: Rockne S. O'Bannon
  • Producers: Bill Borden, Gale Anne Hurd, Richard Kobritz
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), English (Dolby Digital 4.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: March 27, 2001
  • Run Time: 91 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000059HAD
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #162,339 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Alien Nation" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Stephen M. Kerwick on April 2, 2001
Format: DVD
Alien nation is so novel and clever that its already over before you realize that it is the same basic buddy cop theme that's been done to death in Hollywood. The "murder to cover up a drug conspiracy in high places" plot is more than a bit familiar, but the writers came up with a fascinating science fiction premise that made the end product entirely worth while. Nothing in the performances apart from the special effects is earth shaking, but the screenwriter did a magnificent job in creating a film that holds the attention and engages the interest. This was a very worthy project and never seemed hackneyed, although there are a lot of similar films that do so almost effortlessly. I recommend it heartily.
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This is a very watchable movie that succeeds because of: a) bravo performances by James Caan (as always) and Mandy Patinkin; b) a solid storyline; and c) the fact that the movie does not try to take itself too seriously even as it makes some social and political points. In effect, this movie is racial politics wrapped in equal parts science fiction and a satirical cop thriller. The amazing thing is, it works--this movie is a brisk and enjoyable viewing experience. The storyline never drags and always entertains. The social commentary, while pervasive, never intrudes on the storyline.
The basic premise of the film is that a huge spaceship full of alien "Newcomers" lands in the California desert. They have high IQs, average over 6 1/2 feet in height, get drunk on sour milk, cannot eat cooked meat, and have a variety of other odd characteristics as well. Their goal, and the government's goal, is to assimilate the Newcomers into American society as quickly as possible. James Caan plays a police detective who is assigned the first Newcomer detective partner: Detective Sam Francisco (Patinkin)and they are investigating a murder involving the Newcomer community. The chemistry between Caan and Patinkin is excellent, and both turn in fine performances. Lots of interesting and downright hilarious things happen along the way, which makes this film downright entertaining even as it gives a certain amount of lighthearted social commentary about the challenges that the most recent people "off the boat" can expect to face when entering American society.
The movie succeeds in its most important goal: it entertains. This is good lighthearted entertainment with a frosting of social commentary that avoids being PC.
The movie works.
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Format: DVD
this is a great pilot for the tv series that followed. the tv series allowed each character to grow and change, and their alien-ness to one another to blur as they continued to fight crime.

there were a lot of layers to this series besides the basic sci-fi "stranger in a strange land"-"my how different we are" type of story. The episodes dealt with family, romance, detective work, friendship, and a horrific past endured on the way to planet earth.

It has that blade-runner sort of feel, on the edge of the apocalypse type of city, and a pinch of buckaroo bonzai, cagney and lacey (the team had to prove themselves and break "glass ceilings") mixed up with a dash of starman for good measure.

i really enjoyed the tongue in cheek, the partnership formed, and the overcoming of racism.

...'bring me your huddled masses..." i really really implore the powers that be to bring the tv series to DVD.

Thank you in advance.
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Amazing show, this is the prequel that started it all. It has less of a production budget than the series or the other 5 movies, so it's not the war representation of Alien Nation, but worth watching if you're a fan of the show. See my review of the series for more.
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Do you like cop movies? If you do then you're in luck. Alien Nation is essentially a cop movie... with aliens. The fact that it is just a cop movie with aliens is what makes this movie a little groundbreaking. However like any other genre of movies, this cop movie isn't perfect. It falls into some of the same trappings of most cop movies. In spite of that Alien Nation is innovative in the science fiction genre, even if the innovation itself has been played out to nausea elsewhere.

This isn't high cop drama like Black Rain or Heat. It isn't necessarily low cop drama either like V.I. Warshowski or The Rookie. The cop drama part is pretty much in the middle. So what makes it innovative? Well... it's the aliens. One of the things that make really good science fiction is when aspects of real life get represented in another fashion. Films like Aliens with their Viet Nam War contrast, Contact with its spiritual belief contrast, and V with their Holocaust similarities all stand out above the crowd because they compare their situations with real issues. Alien Nation does the same. Not with the buddy cop themes but with the themes of racial hatred and discrimination. Instead of some other ethnic minority you get alien refugees from another planet. You get all the parallels of bigotry in modern society in this film, and they address it in a concise manner.

That been said it's still a cop movie overall. Oddly matched police officers learning to accept each other, drug lord looking to take over, lots of gunplay and cop jokes... they all end up here. This aspect of the movie is merely average. Just like all the other cop movies you have seen over the decades.
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