Buried under hundreds of made-for-tv movies, Alien Cargo offers a very immersive and sturdy science fiction experience. While the intro might make you think that this is another Alien clone, I assure you it’s not. Opening with a crew of a spaceship in suspended animation or hyper sleep as they call it here, I think they tried to do an homage to the sci-fi classic. And put you in the right mood. Just think if Parker and Brett, two maintenance engineers got a movie of their own.
Alien Cargo features a fully fleshed out world and fairly competent character development. This is the thing that I loved about it. We’re not following some superheroes saving the galaxy from evil aliens but an ordinary hauling crew. The corporate world is alive and well in the future and it presents the same set of obstacles as it does now. Remember, you don’t hate Mondays, you hate capitalism. This familiar setting slowly built up the atmosphere and by the time our heroes were in trouble, we were already invested.
Have you heard about space crazies? It’s a condition that makes passengers aboard spaceships act irrationally and oftentimes violent. We witness such a case in the opening scene of this movie. After several months of hyper sleep, onboard computer Shoshoni wakes up two crew members aboard the cargo ship SSS17. They soon find out the ship is way off-course and a lot of internal damage that seems to be done by human hand. The only problem is that they cannot find members of the last shift. And this is only the beginning of their problems.
Considering that this is a low-budget TV movie, they’ve done the weightless thing pretty smoothly. The same goes for the sets, although I think you just can’t fuck up generic ship interiors. I especially liked the dialogues that felt realistic and elaborate. You can sense that we’re following a pretty insignificant crew of corporate grunts grinding their days away working for the SSS or Solar System Shipping company.
I can’t help but recall my days of hauling ore in Elite Dangerous while watching this movie. Space trucking is a real thing and if you don’t believe me check out another science fiction classic Stuart Gordon’s Space Truckers. Alien Cargo plays like a double episode of Star Trek Deep Space Nine. It features almost exactly the same budget, a bit weaker acting and a pretty damn good story. I know it’s been told several times, most recently in Pandorum, Event Horizon and Dead Space, but it still feels fresh and intriguing. It’s far from space blunders like Supernova or similar movies. Too bad the ending feels a bit unfinished, but overall this is a great little blast from the past. Especially for the fans of movies set in space. Enjoy.
Director: Mark Haber
Writer: Carla Jean Wagner
Cast: Jason London, Missy Crider, Elizabeth Alexander, Alan Dale, Warwick Young, David Ross Paterson