The packaging of this DVD from Anchor Bay touts Josh Becker's Alien Apocalypse as the 'highest rated Sci-Fi Pictures original of all time!' Unfortunately, that lumps this movie in with a lot of really, really bad made for TV movies, which is more or less where it belongs anyway.
Bruce Campbell stars in this one, playing Dr. Ivan Hood who has spent the last four decades frozen in a deep sleep out in space where he was doing some research. When he arrives back on Earth after his extended hybernation, he's shocked to find that the planet has been taken over by a nasty race of giant insectoid aliens. To make matters worse, they've enslaved humanity and are bent on using Earth for whatever whim strikes them.
Soon after his arrival, Dr. Hood is captured by the giant bugs and locked up in a prison. It doesn't take him long to get his brain working overtime, however, and soon he's come up with an elaborate escape plan. He makes his way out of there with one thing on his mind – to find the President and cause an insurrection with his help. In turn, they'll overthrow the evil bug tyrants and set things right for all humanity. His fellow space traveler, Kelly, is along for the ride to help him out as best she can.
This is pretty much a formula movie. It doesn't do anything particularly interesting with the premise and it doesn't break any new ground. It's all fairly predictable and you're not seeing anything here you haven't seen done before and done better at that. What makes this one worth a look is the Bruce factor – he plays his role like he plays most of his other roles, with tongue planted firmly in cheek. He's got a great sense of comedic timing and the plot allows the movie to focus more on his skills as a goofball than most other roles where he's relegated to a bit part or supporting player. The result is very much a bad movie with a good Campbell performance. For fans of his work, that'll be enough but for those looking for an interesting or intelligent science fiction film, this one comes up severely lacking. Fans of piss poor CGI work should enjoy this one though, as there's tons of that in here.
Aside from Campbell, a few other familiar faces show up in the film. Renee O'Connor from Xena has a decent part and Peter Jason of Deadwood is fun as the long lost President of these here United States of America. Production values are pretty low on this one and the low budget doesn't help the script or do the movie any favors, but if you want to see Bruce goofing off for an hour and a half, check this out.
Anchor Bay gives Alien Apocalypse a solid 1.77.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Black levels are strong and deep and color reproduction is good. There are a few scenes with some heavy line shimmering apparent along the sides of buildings and cars but that's about as bad as it gets. There are no mpeg compression artifacts evident during playback nor are there any issues with print damage or excessive grain. Skin tones look pretty normal and realistic and while a few scenes are a bit on the soft side, the detail level on this transfer is average or slightly better.
The soundtrack is available in your choice of an English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix or a toned down English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix. English closed captioning is also provided, though there are no subtitles on this release. Both mixes sound find with the 5.1 winning out for opening up the proceedings a bit and throwing in some fun directional effects during the more action intensive scenes that take place in the film. Levels are properly balanced, dialogue is clean and clear and while there could have been some more punch in the lower end, there's not much to complain about here – the movie sounds good.
The only really substantial extra feature on this release comes in the form of a feature length commentary track from director Josh Becker and star Bruce Campbell. These two have known one another a long time and their obvious enthusiasm for working with one another again comes through in this track where they discuss the origins of the film, what could have been done better with the material, and how it ended up being finished. There are a lot of good stories and plenty of the humor that Campbell is known for on this talk and to be totally honest, the commentary is a lot more fun than the movie itself is.
Aside from that, Anchor Bay has supplied a brief collection of random behind the scenes footage that totals about two minutes in length, a still gallery, and the standard Bruce Campbell text biography.
Campbell's hammy acting makes this one worth a watch if you dig his style, but for those who aren't into Bruce's performances, what you're left with is a very much by the numbers made for TV sci-fi movie of the week. Anchor Bay's disc looks and sounds okay, and the commentary is fun. The lack of replay value makes this release a good candidate for a rental.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.