The After Dark stable of DTV horror quickies takes a slightly surprising turn for the better here. Recently we've had a string of uninteresting and unremarkable, and indeed missable, films: Fertile Ground, Prowl, Husk, Seconds Apart, and while this new entry is in no way any kind of unsurpassable masterwork, it's still significantly better than the norm and also more fun. Sure it's unoriginal - it cribs blatantly from Alien, Aliens and The Thing as well as the geekier episodes of The X-Files - but it's done with enough energy and wit to get over the silliness, the cheapness, and the shameless copying.
51 obviously refers to Area 51, the chunk of Nevada where the US military supposedly keeps crashed alien spacecraft along with the aliens themselves. To "prove" there's nothing to these conspiracies, the government "agrees" to let a few members of the press into the base and the legendary Hangar 18, and show them enough mind-blowing technology to keep them and the public satisfied. But there ARE aliens on the base and, by unhappy coincidence, they're choosing this same day to make their escape....
Pleasingly, the monster sequences have mainly been done with prosthetics and men in suits (admittedly not brilliant ones - Patient Zero is basically a veined body stocking) rather than duff CGI and, even though they're clearly not working with a huge budget, the effects are generally decent enough. The characters are mainly worth cheering for and nicely sketched it, and there's a layer of humour (including a neat gag about Ronald Reagan). In the second half, it does settle for scenes of idiots and military badasses hunting monsters in dark, underground corridors, and the finale does lack the desired oomph as the film runs out of steam. But as a definatly silly Friday night monster B-movie it's a decent enough rental. Directed by Jason Connery.