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A Reel Life film section

Issue: Summer 2009-2010

Alien Nation (1988) movie review

Strangers in LaLa Land


In a not-too-distant future a spaceship filled with slaves and their handlers is beached on Earth. They are introduced into the American culture with names like Sam Francisco and learn the ways, good and bad, of humankind.

Basically Alien Nation is a science fictional crime story. A prejudiced street cop Sykes (James Caan) volunteers to partner up with an accelerated-promotion alien detective (Mandy Patinkin) who he renames George.

Despite George's innocent desire to follow the rules of his new society and job, the two men investigate killings related to the death of Sykes last partner.

Movie poster; Alien Nation; Festivale film review; 220x329

Movie poster, Alien Nation
Prepare Yourself

Yes, this is an old story. It is revamped a little to have an alien instead of some other marginalised group member. It gets a little humour from the alien nature of the so-called "newcomers". They look a little different, but they are similar enough to interact sexually with humans. They metabolise food differently, so they eat different, uncooked foods, and they get drunk on soul milk.

Alien Nation was successful enough to spawn it's own three-year series and is worth a look, its characters and themes still speak to a contemporary audience.


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by Ali Kayn
Australian release 1988
For credits and official site details, see below
Search Festivale for more work by the film-makers below.

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Just the facts:

Title: Alien Nation (1988)
Written by: Rockne S. O'Bannon
Directed by: Graham Baker
Running time: 91 mins
Rating: M

The Players: James Caan, Mandy Patinkin, Terence Stamp, Kevyn Major Howard

Official website:
IMDb entry

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