Director: “Thomas Lee”

Starring: James Spader, Angela Bassett, Robert Forster

A rescue ship runs into trouble when they answer a distress call from a mining planet.

This misconceived $60m science fiction thriller had a troubled production that resulted in original director Walter Hill - producer of Alien and Aliens, let it not be forgotten - vacating the hot seat, to be replaced by “Thomas Lee” (the official replacement pseudonym for the now over-exposed Alan Smithee). Along the way it’s rumoured that Francis Ford Coppola and The Hidden’s Jack Shoulder had a hand in the process, but in this case many hands spoil the broth. The film, which roughly parallels the plot of Alien, including the mysterious distress call and alien artefacts, has many promising moments and ideas, but its pulpiness and erratic performance from the cast (which includes My So Called Life’s Wilson Cruz, End of Days’ Robin Tunney and Bats’s Lou Diamond Phillips), eventually bog it down.

Producers MGM evidently had considerable faith in the film – the production values are excellent – and this has been carried through to the DVD, which is presented in 2.35:1 ratio (with anamorphic enhancement), and with a knockout 5.1 audio mix (at 448kbps). It could be noted, however, that the print is intermittently speckled with levels of dirt that you don’t expect to see on the transfer of an A-Grade title, perhaps indicating some cost-cutting in the post production phase. The disc comes with a trailer and a dozen or so interesting deleted scenes (totalling about twenty minutes), presented in low-resolution rough cut format, including unused bookends that put a different spin on the film. The Region 1 disc is dual-sided, with the widescreen version on one side, and a full-frame version on the other. The UK Region 2 disc is a dual-layer, single-sided disc without the full-frame option that allows for a transfer with a higher bitrate, so it should be significantly better than the US version, which has the same extras.


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