‘Los Angeles, 1991. They have come to Earth to live among us. They’ve learned the language, taken jobs, and tried to fit in. But there’s something about them we don’t know.’
Todays Key Movie:
After Three years in quarantine, a race of alien beings known as The Newcomers have been released into the human populace in the United States. This film follows Two cops, a human named Detective Matt Sykes (James Caan) and a Newcomer Detective named Samuel ‘George’ Francisco (Mandy Patinkin) who team up after Matt’s human partner is killed at the hands of Newcomer criminals. A sci-fi neo noir buddy cop film that takes Alien First contact in a whole new direction.
Why this movie?
This is one of those films that just stays with you. It is a fantastic scifi, a great buddy cop film, and at its core, an incredible piece of social commentary. I remember watching this film as a kid and being enthralled by it. On the surface it is a great sci fi buddy cop films and, in the 80’s both of those genres were massively popular. If you peer past the obvious you soon find that this film deals in one aspect of human life that seems to never change. Racism, intolerance and bigotry.
The Newcomers were a slave race, a race bred to survive all types of dangerous situations. Their spacecraft arrives on Earth like ship lost at sea, it’s people stranded and desperate for a home. They soon begin to integrate into society and, in doing so, become a new class of citizens in the U.S. They are shunned, distrusted and hated by many, while all they want is to find a way to live. Sound familiar?
While the sciopolitical implications are profound, don’t get me wrong, the buddy cop story is terrific in every way. The main story deals with a great story that deals with an alien drug which previously enslaved Sam’s people. Being created by Newcomer William Harcourt (played by Terence Stamp), Harcourt plans to distribute this drug and re-enslave the populous of Newcomers. Sam and Matt must find a way to stop him before the Newcomers face an all new bleak future.
How did this translate to real life?
When this film came out in the 80’s, the United States was in a state of change. While diversity was slowly becoming accepted in society as a whole, more and more groups were being singled out to be the new targets of which bigots, racists and just plain assholes would attack. It seemed no matter how close we got to unity as a nation, the further we would get from it. There is a great quote in the film from Sam himself that sums this up nicely.
‘You humans are very curious to us. You invite us to live among you in an atmosphere of equality that we’ve never known before. You give us ownership of our own lives for the first time and you ask no more of us than you do of yourselves. I hope you understand how special your world is, how unique a people you humans are. Which is why it is all the more painful and confusing to us that so few of you seem capable of living up to the ideals you set for yourselves.’
In Current time, Although we have come a long way, we are facing more problems than ever with people fighting against diversity. It is more important now than ever that we realize that without a diverse culture we, as the human race, can not survive. Diversity is an vital factor to allow for an exchange of ideas, cultures and customs that will only make this planet a better place for everyone. When you dig in, it is astonishing how many commonly accepted traditions come from people of all walks of life, from all over the world. If it wasn’t for this vast mixing of the peoples of this planet, most of us would likely still be living in caves.
Okay, you like this film, but is it really a ‘good film’?
This is an excellent film that manages to cross genres without crossing the streams. It is a solid buddy cop film and a solid sci-fi film that touches on key aspects of everyday struggles. The actors are top notch with James Caan, Mandy Patinkin, Terence Stamp and many others. This film was also written by Rockne S. O’bannon who would later create other sci fi series including Farscape and Defiance. In fact, this movie spawned a short lived series of its own that was really great.
Not relying heavily on special effects, with the exception of simple but effective alien makeup, this is a movie that everyone should experience at least once and all sci fi fans should own.
The themes in this movie have been explored again in other works, more recently a Netflix original seemed to borrow heavily from this film in their new movie Bright. While a different setting and a decent movie of it’s own right, it is apparent that Bright was inspired by this and other works.
OK, where do I get this movie?
This one is pretty easy to find so you won’t have an excuse for not watching it after reading this review. You can get it on DVD for around $8 at Best Buy or pick up a hidef copy for around $10 digitally at VUDU. You can also grab the TV series as well!
and of course, the Trailer:
Thank you for reading today’s Key Movie of My Life, If you would like to read more reviews please check out my past Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday and also a complete review of Star Trek Discovery. Be sure to check out our contributor Darkmovienight with the New Movie Reviews every Sunday.
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Late to the Game 04/19/2018