Stranded: Film Review

Moon base-set monster flick offers neither originality nor thrills.

The director of "Battlefield Earth" hasn't had enough of sci-fi yet.

A no-budget Alien ripoff with little reason to exist beyond the few creature-effects shots its design team now can add to its reel, Roger Christian's Stranded might leave viewers yearning for the director's Battlefield Earth -- a film that, terrible though it was, at least couldn't be accused of a lack of ambition. A quick disappearance from theaters is assured, with only star Christian Slater's name left to milk a few dollars from VOD.

The pic doesn't merely suffer from a staggeringly derivative plot; its dialogue sounds as if it were cobbled together by someone trying to remember exact lines from better films: "You gotta take a look at this," marvels someone  at a chunk of rock that has been brought into a previously sterile environment. "There's some kinda spore on it."

That rock landed during a meteor storm that crippled the moon base where Slater's Col. Gerard Brauchman leads a four-person mineral-extraction team. With life support systems broken, crew members only have to survive long enough for a rescue team to arrive. But that spore sure seems to grow in exciting, weird ways ...

Opening shots, which use obvious miniatures instead of CGI, might lead sci-fi connoisseurs to hope for a stripped-down genre flick, a la early John Carpenter, that will substitute sweaty interpersonal tension for special effects and elaborate action scenes. But the cast and screenplay aren't nearly up for that type of mission, and the film takes nothing from Carpenter (or his The Thing predecessor Howard Hawks) beyond that spore-grows-into-monster idea.

Segueing from that inspiration to more obvious borrowing from the Alien franchise, it implants the microbial alien in the uterus of a female crew member, who goes through the gestation/delivery cycle in a matter of hours. So quickly that her crew mates don't even notice, in fact, letting the shapeshifting beastie stalk them for quite a while before they know they're not alone.

Tech values are as rudimentary as the story and as numbing.

Production: Minds Eye Entertainment

Cast: Christian Slater, Brendan Fehr, Amy Matysio, Michael Therriault

Director: Roger Christian

Screenwriters: Roger Christian, Christian Piers Betley

Producers: Isabella Battiston, Mark Montague

Executive producers: David Cormican, Kevin DeWalt, Gi Fernando, Leonid Shapiro, Nigel Thomas

Director of photography: Mark Dobrescu

Production designer: Kathy McCoy

Music: Todd Bryanton

Costume designer: Brenda Shenher

Editor: Daryl K. Davis

No rating, 84 minutes