December 31, 2007

Movie Review: Aliens Vs. Predator - Requiem

Back in 2004 the first movie to combine Alien and Predator was unleashed upon the masses. When that project was first announced it had fans of both series (including me) excited. Unfortunately the R-rated universe was cut to PG-13 and the possibility of an epic struggle between two classic cinematic monsters was reduced to the equivalent of a video game. What should have been exciting, action packed, suspenseful, and, again, epic, wound up being anything but. Sure, the film was fun at its base level, but their is such great potential that felt wasted. Now, three years later, the big-screen conflict has been renewed with Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem (or AVP-R for the spelling impaired). Is it better than the first? Yes and no. It does go about correcting some of the things that didn't work in the first, but it has plenty of its own problems to deal with.

This movie takes place shortly after the end of the first film. The Predators are leaving with their wounded comrade, but before they can get to far an Alien/Predator hybrid, a Predalien if you will, bursts from within and the small craft they are on crashes into the woods of Colorado. Word of the crash reaches the Predator homeworld and a lone warrior jets off to Earth to clean up the mess. While the Predator is en route, the Predalien is running roughshod through the woods, while the facehuggers that were on the crashed ship start hooking up with whatever hosts they can find, spawning more of the gooey critters.

While the travel time elapses and more Alien critters burst forth from random human hosts, we are introduced to this entry's human characters. Among them are recently returned ex-convict Dallas (Rescue Me's Steven Pasquale), his annoying younger brother Ricky (Johnny Lewis), recently returned Iraq vet Kelly (24's Reiko Aylesworth), lost looking sheriff Morales (John Ortiz), and Ricky's love interest Jesse (Kristen Hager). Now, ask me if I care about any of them. Let me give you the quick answer: I don't. I do not care about any of these so-called humans, particularly when they start spitting the drivel someone gave the label of script.

After about half a movie's worth of lousy character blather the action finally begins to pick up. The Predator is going around town trying to clean up the mess left by his predecessors, as well as finish off the hybrid creature. We get some decent fights between the two creatures while the humans run for cover. However, as entertaining as some of the fights were, there was really no story holding it together and the execution was rather sloppy.

There is very little sense of direction or location. Characters pop up out of nowhere, or seem to teleport from location to location. I had a hard time keeping track of where the various characters and critters were. It got to the point where I pretty much gave up on trying to give them any sort of location.

The character interaction and development is horrendous. Yes, the movie is about Aliens and Predators, but humans are still needed in the mix to help give audiences an "in" to the conflict and this batch just does not do the trick. They are either bland and uninteresting or annoying and need to be killed.

Beyond location issues and awful humans, the cinematography and lighting left something to be desired. Many of the fights were in the dark where it was hard to make out what was happening and was shot from angles that were not condicive to watching a fight. Then there is the ending, don't even get me started.....

By now, I am sure you are wondering if anything worked. Of course, some of it did work. First off, there was no mention of the pyramids or returning to hunt every hundred years, that was a concept introduced in the first film that just did not work. The creature designs were better this time around. Overall, there was a less cartoony look to everything, a bit more realistic (I know, I know) than the last outing. The Predalien was pretty neat looking and seemed to be particularly vicious. There was more of a reliance on preactical effects over CG, something that is becoming a lost art in this day and age.

Don't get me wrong; I had fun with the movie. The biggest problem is the potential that is contained within the concept. The studio seems more than willing to throw up whatever they think will make them money, which is understandable from a business perspective. As a fan of both creatures I expect more from their combination. I expect some care and time be spent on creating a film worthy of the franchises' origins. Therein lie the problems for franchise type films. We fans expect greatness while studios expect merely revenue. Also, while Alien and Aliens are classics, the rest of the films on both sides hardly qualify as such (although arguments could be made for the original Predator). Us fans expect greatness every time out and will rant and rave to anyone who will listen when said film, doesn't live up to these preconceived notions.

I am beginning to ramble, aren't I? I am sure you understand what I am saying, we need to extract what joy we can because it is unlikely we will ever get the version that we want. I had hoped that AVP-R was going to be that winner, but it suffered from a poor script and poor execution of the concept. I will continue to hold out hope that they get it right next time, although I refuse to hold my breath as I am sure only disappointment lies down that path.

Bottomline. I admit, I had fun watching this. Enjoying the parts that hit the spot and laughing at the ridiculousness of it all. No, it is not a good movie. I do feel it is a step up from the prior pairing, but it still leaves a lot to be desired. The best I can say is lower your expectations, see it, and just have fun with it. Just realize that it is unlikely that we will ever get the great face off that we want.

Mildly Recommended.


Anonymous said...

I think one of the negatives that you left out is that they ruined the timeline of the Alien movie line. I don't recall the time in the original AVP movie, but wasn't the 1st Alien movie sometime in the 2100's. I did like all the neat gadgets that the Predator had.

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