||I don't remember my
reaction to this movie when I saw it for the first time, in the theatre,
but this time, I thought the concept was amazing, though the movie
squandered it a little.
I love the conceptual aspect of this
movie a lot. The idea would be to find out how a race of slaves would
react to crash-landing on Earth and becoming American citizens. We get
glimpses now and then of how that happens, though presumably most of
their newfound culture was supposed to be explored in the TV series that
followed many years later.
As far as I could tell, the timeline
seemed a little screwed up right from the start, but it could be that I
misidentified it. I believe the newscasters say that three years have
passed since the Newcomers arrived, and they were just being released
from quarantine when the movie begins. But that can't be, because the
Newcomers have their own town, jobs, even street drunks, as well as one
police detective. So I believe it has been three years since the
Newcomers were let out of quarantine, and I'll leave it at that.
The Newcomers don't seem to have a
culture of their own. As a slave race, they probably weren't permitted
to have one, though these things tend to develop anyway, with time. They have
integrated into American society flawlessly. They have taken every
possible human virtue and vice, and exploited it to the fullest, even
beyond what many humans are willing to do. So we have Newcomer store
clerks and thugs. Strippers, barkeepers, and patrons. There are the
little things that make this movie so good, especially since so few of
them are explained explicitly to us. Such as when Sykes wonders why the
Newcomer bums can't get drunk on something respectable, like Jack
Daniels, instead of sour milk. It's just coincidence that Sykes has milk
in his fridge that has gone sour, because that is the state of his life!
Sykes was never good at human
relations, it would seem. He doesn't even want to go to his daughter's
wedding because he and his ex-wife are not speaking. After his partner
is killed, it is saddening to hear her tell him, on his answering
machine, that she made his partner promise to drag him to the wedding,
and that nothing would stop him from doing just that. She didn't count
The background of the movie is so good
that it very much overwhelms the plot. Sykes is forbidden to investigate
for the person responsible for killing his partner, so he teams up with
the new (and only) Newcomer police detective, on a case that he believes
might be related, though nobody else knows this.
The two interview the wife of the dead
store clerk, and follow a trail that quite easily leads them to the
Newcomer responsible. It is a gritty trail, though, whose purpose is to
show us the Newcomer culture as it adapting to Earth. As I said, it is
the background that stands out.
It turns out that a small group of
Newcomers has been developing a drug to which the slave race was
addicted when they were in space. That not a single Newcomer mentioned
this drug to their interrogators and quarantine agents is hard to
believe. There were obviously some Newcomers who still desire the drug,
and it is very likely that they would have given themselves away in some
Francisco is determined not to let the
drug gain a foothold on Earth, but his methods leave something to be
desired. If one group could do it, then another can, as well. He can't
be everywhere, especially when other countries start to inevitably open
their doors to the Newcomers. Humans will eventually find out about the
Newcomer "Dark Side".
Needless to say, Sykes and Francisco
(Sykes calls him George to avoid the obvious pun the customs agent used)
uncover the plot and kill just about everyone involved. The only
Newcomer who escapes overdoses on the drug, so Sykes leaves him for
dead. The overdose, however, triggers a change in the Newcomers. What
exactly that change does is not explored, except that the "changed"
Harcourt seems to be even stronger than usual.
In a neat twist, Sykes lures Harcourt
into a boat, and then pushes the Newcomer into the ocean -since seawater
is like acid to Newcomers, Harcourt dies an agonizing death. However,
the movie uses standard horror movie clichés in having the dying man
surface a number of times, his body half-eaten away, but somehow still
He does die, eventually, and Francisco
even plunges his hand into the water to save Sykes. So a new, respected
partnership is born, and Sykes even manages to attend his daughter's
The movie looks like the 1980s,
with the cars and hairstyles, and just the tone of society. Yet its
gritty and real. It actually feels like a real, integrated society,
which is a nice change in SF films, where the aliens tend to stand out.
There were a lot of Newcomers portrayed here, on the streets, in the
bar, and in the factories. I was impressed.
I have no idea if the TV series
explored more of the societal aspects that the film hinted at, but there
were so many hints here that it's almost impossible not to feel
frustrated. Instead of learning even more about the Newcomers through
interaction, Sykes and Francisco get drunk together. We also get several
minutes of car chases, and ducking through the building at the end, that
could have been put to better use.
The acting, directing and makeup,
however, were top-notch, enough to make this movie stand out. It is
unfortunate that we get to see society in the form of a cop-movie, which
uses a standard format to deal with the plot. Still, there was plenty
here to enjoy.