Alien Nation is one of those movies that\'s so good it\'s hard to know where to lavish praise first. From the opening scene of an ominous flying saucer hovering over L.A., it\'s clear that something special is going on here. Director Graham Baker has done an excellent job portraying the Newcomers as the new minority on the planet, from their earnest yet awkward attempts to adopt human ways (picture aliens in business suits who live in houses with white picket fences) to their gritty back-alley dealings in drugs and murder.
Caan and Patinkin are wonderful as the at-odds partners who slowly form a bond of mutual respect and trust, largely through friendly and not-so-friendly banter (Sykes decides the name \"Sam Francisco\" is too ludicrous to use and summarily dubs his partner \"George.\" Tit for tat, George then explains that \"Sykes\" means **** head\" in the Newcomer\'s native tongue.) Terence Stamp also excels as Newcomer businessman and community leader William Harcourt, who has learned one lesson too many from his former masters.
Writer Rockne S. O\'Bannon has done a fine job with the script, creating a story that\'s both intriguing and touching, as well as funny and serious. The film also manages to explore modern-day social issues while telling a gripping crime story in the process. Together O\'Bannon, Graham, Patinkin and Caan created a rich tableau with Alien Nation, and it\'s easy to see why the film went on to spawn a TV series (albeit short-lived) and five television movies.
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