The opening is a nice impending disaster sequence as the president calls for calm while not realising that there is an alien countdown going on (the scientist tries to warn him but is fended off by his hostile wife), until almost too late. The mothership releases city sized attack craft to destroy each main city. They appear as a big thunderhead of clouds ominously advancing, but containing fire (as an AWACS airplane found out) rather than water. Impressive. The executives get away on US Air Force 1 just in front of the expanding fireball that's Washington DC. I wonder about the turbulence of a fireball under the big UFO above the city not upsetting it at all (ok, nuclear bombs didn't bother it either because of its force field or whatever shields). It at least did cause the lights to flicker in AF1 as it was flying away. The explosions were spectacular. Worthy of a Japanese end-of-the-world anime production.
There were some good air battles, with lots of USAF planes being wiped out by the alien fighters (or just driving into their shields). Only one survived, by doing acrobatics down the Grand Canyon (Star Wars anyone?). The air force pilot made the enemy crash, and punched him personally on the desert (that shouldn't have worked, the alien had powered armour on), then dragged the unconscious body away in his parachute.
Oh, a lot of the special characters survived too. The air force pilot's girlfriend (and stripper) got into a maintenance room on the side of an underground car tunnel just in time, with her child and the dog (running away just in front of the fireball again). They later find the president's wife dying beside a crashed helicopter on the way out of the city in a dump truck (they sure can drive through anything).
Like other disaster flics, this one had more of a large cast of characters than a central hero. The scientist and the air force pilot would be the main characters, I guess. Heroic air force pilot who has a sense of humour. Pretty amazing scientist, whipping up a virus for an alien computer system in one day (and figuring out how to upload it based on the hardware in an old downed craft they had to work from). Still, the virus planting flight to the enemy mother-craft was good action. Scenes from Star Wars (dodging interior structure in a big death star), StarGate (the alien technology's slate rock look (ok, it would be worse if the CGI artists used their favorite algorithmic textures of marble or wood)) and many other popular films. The atomic bomb timer. The victory cigar ritual. The old alcoholic pilot saving the day by a suicide bombing run back on Earth once the virus had dropped the enemy shields.
Anyway, it ended happily, with at least a few deaths so it wasn't totally Shakespearean (however, there was one marriage ceremony with two couples).
Copyright © 1996 by Alexander G. M. Smith.