A rock singer and his girlfriend discover that the government is keeping several space aliens hostage in an underground military installation. Will this cost them their lives? Will the aliens break free?
Imagine, if you will, a version of E.T.
that takes the "evil government conspiracy" subplot and places it front and center, and I think that basically captures the story here. It's not a slavish imitation by any means; it's somewhat more adult, there are more aliens to contend with, and because of its emphasis on the conspiracy, it's certainly less joyful. There are also plot elements that give a different face to the proceedings; the very presence of the aliens has a possibly fatal effect on the lives of those around it. Nevertheless, the similar to E.T. becomes rather noticeable, especially towards the end of the movie. The movie itself isn't badly made, but there's something about it that feels anticlimactic and uneventful, partially because several of the characters feel like plot conveniences rather than real people; we don't really care about the rock singer or the girlfriend, though we do get attached to the prospector, largely because he's played by Keenan Wynn (and it's nice to see him in a larger role than he was usually given in movies at this time). The most interesting thing about the movie is the attention to the details surrounding the government conspiracy, and though I don't know the specifics, I hear that it may be at least partially based on true events. Still, I can't help but speculate how different this movie would have been if it had been made a decade earlier; compare the way conspiracy movies of the seventies end and the way this one ends to see what I mean.