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'Stranded' Movie Review

About.com Rating 1.5 Star Rating

By

'Stranded' movie poster
© RLJ/Image Entertainment
Any monster movie that takes place in space will inevitably be compared to the Alien franchise at some point. The best of them manage to separate themselves from that legendary series and form their own identity with a smart script or inventive creature design. Stranded is not one of those.

The Plot

About halfway through a four-man crew's one-year mission at a lunar mineral exploration camp, a freak meteor shower pummels the moon base, damaging the electrical systems that control communication, heat and carbon monoxide filtration. Base commander Colonel Gerard Brauchman (Christian Slater) calls for immediate evacuation to Earth, but the meteors have damaged all but one two-person escape pod, and it will take days for help to arrive.

Ava Cameron (Amy Matysio), the lone female crew member, discovers what appears to be spores on a chunk of meteor, and when she accidentally gets some on her finger, she falls ill and awakens to find herself in the sick bay very, very pregnant. Before she knows it, she's given birth to an alien that grows at an alarming rate and has the ability to assume the shape of humans. Distrust begins to run rampant as the disguised alien wreaks havoc, having no intention of letting anyone escape alive.

The End Result

Christian Slater and Amy Matysio in 'Stranded'.

Christian Slater and Amy Matysio in 'Stranded'.

© Image Entertainment
Stranded feels like a relic from the '80s and '90s, when Alien clones littered video store shelves and late-night cable schedules. Its alien-gestating-in-a-human-host premise can't help but draw parallels to Alien, which few films can do without coming out on the short end of the stick. The premise of a spore needing a host to reproduce asexually has potential, but the concept isn't fully flushed out, and it feels as if writers Christian Piers Betley and Roger Christian just hatched a half-baked idea while watching the Nat Geo Channel one day.

With the alien taking human form, there's little in the way of creature design and makeup effects for genre fans to enjoy, and with a cast of only four, there are few kills to satisfy their bloodlust. On top of that, the scares are bland, as the alien seems content with just sabotaging equipment rather than directly attacking the moon base personnel. Hardly terrifying stuff.

Granted, the little we see of the non-human version of the creature makes it apparent that budgetary constraints would've made the movie even cheesier than it is had the being maintained a monstrous visage throughout. Even worse are the exterior shots of the base, comprised of miniatures that resemble a papier-mâché school project.

Thankfully, the cast is solid and commits to the bland script, although they aren't helped much by director Roger Christian's matter-of-fact approach that downplays any potential fright factor. Christian, incidentally, won an Academy Award back in the day for set decoration on Star Wars, but his biggest claim to fame thus far is probably directing -- gulp -- Battlefield Earth, a whole different type of sci fi horror altogether.

The Skinny

  • Acting: C (The cast does what they can with the script.)
  • Direction: D+ (Dull; mutes potential scares.)
  • Script: D (Concept could be intriguing, but it's underdeveloped and ends up playing like a generic Alien clone with a touch of The Thing.)
  • Gore/Effects: D+ (Cheap-looking creature effects and miniatures; a couple of modest gore scenes.)
  • Overall: D+ (A well-acted but derivative sci fi clunker.)

Stranded is directed by Roger Christian and is not rated by the MPAA. Release date: July 26, 2013 (limited theatrical release and on demand).

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