By Josh Wolk
January 29, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

Your average winter cold follows a less predictable course than this big-budget, small-payoff sci-fi thriller, in which a menacing otherworldly life force (lifted from ”Alien”) takes up residence on a derelict Russian ship (hinting at ”Titanic”) and hunts down the humans who board to investigate (the aliens think people are the virus). One’s a mad captain (Donald Sutherland, channeling Jaws’ Robert Shaw), one’s a physically fit admiral’s daughter (Jamie Lee Curtis, denied a personality), one’s a Baldwin brother (William, ditto), and there’s nothing this team screams that hasn’t been screamed before. Still, as we’ve-got-to-get-off-this-ship actioners go, this one has its moments; first-time feature director John Bruno handled special effects on many slicker projects (like ”True Lies”) to get here, and he emphasizes the aliens’ deceptively sprightly gizmo construction, masking evil as random as a sudden sore throat.

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