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Three Thrillers from Alliance

Aliens in the Wild, Wild West (July 10/11)

A complete and utter waste of time, Aliens in the Wild, Wild West follows an exasperated father (Mircea Constantinescu's Roger) as he decides to punish his kids - scrappy Tom (Taylor Locke) and rebellious Sara (Carly Pope) - by taking them on a family trip to an old west ghost town. Upon their arrival, the bickering siblings immediately separate from their mom (Marioara Sterian's Melinda) and dad to explore the abandoned landscape - with problems ensuing as Tom and Sara discover a mysterious device that transports them back into the late 1800s. It's there that the brother and sister encounter a friendly alien that seems to want nothing more than to go home, with the pair's efforts at assisting the creature helped along by a friendly cowboy named Johnny Coyle (Barna Moricz). Aliens in the Wild, Wild West is, from start to finish, nothing short of an ordeal to sit through, as the movie suffers from a dearth of positive attributes that's almost impressive. (Everything here, from the chintzy sets to the amateurish performances to the laughable special effects, just smacks of incompetence and laziness.) The idiocy of the two central characters - eg Sara offers to unload her host's dishwasher, Tom asks if anyone delivers Chinese food, etc - is the tip of the iceberg in terms of the film's underwhelming, pandering elements, and though Pope can be surprisingly charming from time to time, Aliens in the Wild, Wild West is primarily a bottom-of-the-barrel endeavor that's guaranteed to leave even small children bored out of their minds.

out of

Altitude (July 13/11)

Altitude follows Jessica Lowndes' Sara as she and a group of friends (Julianna Guill's Mel, Ryan Donowho's Cory, Landon Liboiron's Bruce, and Jake Weary's Sal) embark on a trip in a small plane that she's piloting, with problems ensuing as Sara loses control of the aircraft and subsequently flies straight into a seemingly neverending system of storm clouds. In its early stages, Altitude comes off as a familiar yet entertaining thriller that's buoyed by the inclusion of several admittedly engrossing sequences - including an exciting interlude in which a character climbs out onto the wing of the plane to fix a malfunctioning part. It is, as a result, initially rather easy to overlook the movie's pervasive lack of compelling protagonists, as scripter Paul A. Birkett offers up a selection of hopelessly one-dimensional figures that spend much of the running time arguing and bickering with one another. The continued emphasis on the characters' melodramatic squabbles effectively (and ultimately) drains the film of both its energy and momentum, however, with the progressively stagnant atmosphere preventing certain revelations in the third act from packing the punch that Birkett has clearly intended. By the time the laughable, utterly absurd twist ending rolls around, Altitude has established itself as a disappointingly misguided effort that, for the most part, comes off as a Twilight Zone episode that's been ungainly expanded to feature length.

out of

Blood Out (July 13/11)

A seriously tedious piece of work, Blood Out follows grizzled cop Michael Savion (Luke Goss) as he goes deep undercover to avenge the murder of his gangbanging brother (Ryan Donowho's David) - with Michael's journey bringing him face-to-face with a whole host of sleazy, disreputable figures (including Vinnie Jones' Zed and Tamer Hassan's Elias). Filmmaker Jason Hewitt utilizes a gritty and frequently obnoxious visual style that immediately alienates the viewer, with the less-than-engrossing atmosphere compounded by the film's proliferation of incompetent elements (eg the performances, the dialogue, the editing, etc). There is, as a result, simply never a point at which one is able to work up an ounce of interest in the protagonist's ongoing efforts, and it's worth noting that even the movie's action sequences, presumably meant to be a highlight, come off as incoherent and annoying (ie enough with the rapid-fire editing and heavy-metal soundtrack already). The movie admittedly does boast one halfway decent scene - Goss' character commiserates with Ed Quinn's Anthony over their screwed up families - yet this is hardly enough to compensate for what is otherwise a dull, almost aggressively unwatchable straight-to-video actioner.

out of

About the DVDs: All three films arrive on DVD courtesy of Alliance Films, with Altitude inexplicably not presented in its proper aspect ratio.
© David Nusair