Mankind's Last Stand


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Mankind's Last Stand
"It's trying so hard to model itself on other war films that it never really finds a voice of its own."

When invasions happen, everyone becomes a soldier; so we're told. Sooner or later, though, it's going to come down to the professionals: our troops against theirs. The rather misleadingly titled Mankind's Last Stand (known outside the UK as Alien Outpost or Outpost 37) skips the shock and awe of the invasion and goes straight into the nitty gritty of combat. We're winning, but they remain a problem. And for all we know, they might have back-up on the way.

Coming so close to the release of the much-hyped Monsters: Dark Continent, this low budget film about a group of soldiers in the desert fighting off aliens has its work cut out for it. Despite its financial limitations, it looks great, with good sound and lighting work and solid performances from a cast of unknowns. Unfortunately it's trying so hard to model itself on other war films that it never really finds a voice of its own, and the tedium of sitting around waiting for battle, which ought to be a chance to build tension, instead threatens to bore the viewer too.

Copy picture

The real difficulty with settings like this is they require strong scripts and actors who are not just good but also charismatic. Whilst it shines in other ways, Mankind's Last Stand lacks these qualities, and it also suffers from its director's inability to stay on top of the chaos during a key nighttime battle scene, again depriving the film of tension. It's framed through the story of an embedded documentary crew, but although this means it can enjoy the advantages of the found footage approach without the disadvantage of shoddy visuals, a lot of it fails to make sense. Who is this documentary supposed to be for? Why do people living in the film's world need to be told that they were recently invaded by aliens? The idea of using cut-away to interviews with the soldiers has potential but it's used too often, making the early part of the film feel bitty and spoiling the flow.

Wisely heeding the mantra that what we imagine is worse than what we see, director Jabbar Raisani keeps his aliens offscreen for much of the running time, allowing us only fleeting glimpses. They're not very original in design - a brief survey turned up comparisons from A Bug's Life to Babylon 5, Deep Space 9 to Mass Effect and Galaxy Quest - and they're a bit clunky, but to worry about this is probably to miss the point. They function well enough to drive the plot. The real problem is that, despite an adequate structure, that plot is pretty thin.

Despite its flaws, Mankind's Last Stand makes clear that this is a production team with a fair measure of talent. It's a competent first feature which just lacks the spark necessary to ignite audience excitement. There's just a little too much smug US adventurism for it to go down well internationally and towards the end it gets bogged down with sentiment it hasn't earned, but if all you want is aliens and explosions, it'll serve you well enough.

Reviewed on: 15 Apr 2015
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A group of soldiers holds out against alien invaders.

Director: Jabbar Raisani

Writer: Blake Clifton, Jabbar Raisani, Jabbar Raisani

Starring: Adrian Paul, Brandon Auret, Reiley McClendon, Rick Ravanello, Douglas Tait, Joe Reegan, Nic Rasenti, Andy Davoli, Matthew Holmes, Sven Ruygrok, Scott E. Miller, Kenneth Fok, Darron Meyer, Jordan Shade, Justin Munitz

Year: 2014

Runtime: 90 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK, South Africa


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