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ALIEN VS PREDATOR   Print  E-mail 
Written by Graham Reed  
Thursday, 11 November 2004
Whoever wins- we lose.No shit.

 

Because AvP has been for a long time, an absolute fanboy dream. Ever since someone wrote a movie script for it, thereís been comic books, novels, videogames, all designed to getting geeks salivating in anticipation, capitalising on the expectations, maximising revenue streams. All because people want to see their two favourite movie monsters in a head to head smackdown.

And now its come to the big screen -  and just how bad is it? Well, itís not bad as such. Itís just not any good. Itís decidedly average. But for a start, Itís not a complete disaster - it works as a piece of brainless entertainment, itís pretty good fun, and filled full of references for fans and trivia for fans to pick up on ; from the opening credits typography down to set designs and visuals.

Whats the story all about? Some scientists discover a pyramid 2000 feet under the iceshelf in Antartica, and a team is sent in to make the scientific discovery. When they get there, they discover signs of a sacrificial culture spanning the entire of human historyÖand then they discover who the sacrifices are to be. And why.

Lets be honest here - visually, it looks great. The set designs are magnificently well done, as are the designs for the Predator ships and as for the monsters themselves, they look just as menacing and evil as they always have. The FX are - except one horrifically bad matrix-esque shot youíve seen in the trailers - pretty damn good. The exploration of Predator mythology and predator culture is well done. And thereís a few money shots that make the fanboy in even me giggle.

Elsewhere in the film, you start giggling at the film, not with it. And thats not good.

You see, I thought the whole idea of sending in a load of scientists was to send in the intelligent people. Oh no. Find a pyramid 2000 feet under the ice in Antartica, and send in the dumbest bunch of smart people Iíve ever seen. These people, for all their geekyness, have never watched a horror film, and god, does it show.

 So where does it go wrong? Everywhere else.

The script is paperthin, with no characterisation and includes every clichť imaginable, except rescuing the family dog. The tough guy whose there to act as the head of the armed team? The spunky female heroine?  The nerdy scientist in glasses (like him from stargate the movie, but cheaper)? The scientist showing us pictures of his kids? All are present and correct, and you just know from the off who will live and who will die. Thereís no mystery there. Itís all too predictable.  And throwing away the big money shots in the trailer doesnít help either..especially when you discover they are just flashback shots anyway.

The main problem here is two fold: Firstly, it plays like a big dumb action movie with monsters, because thatís exactly what it is. This is the antithesis of the first predator / Alien movies - genre defying, defining revolutionary genre movies armed to the teeth with sass and innovation. This takes those ideas and squanders them into a juvenile fantasy monster smackdown, WWF style, devoid of originality and caution.

Secondly, it abandons and discards any inconvienient parts of the establish continuity for the sake of a cheap thrill. Where the Alien films in particular seem to be dictated by the idea of a logical life cycle , here thatís thrown out of the window; the Alien is emasculated to nothing more than big game for the Predators. (Rumour has it that there were huge chunks cut out of the film to gain a more commercial rating in the US, and it shows - and on basis of this, a longer directors cut would be far superior, but still not a patch on any of the originals).

Itís quite simple: The Predators found a planet and taught humanity how to survive, how to build, taught us technology. In return, the Predators would demand a sacrifice; they used the humans as hosts to breed the Aliens, and they would use the resulting Aliens in the hunt as a rite of passage into being warrior Aliens. The humans? They were collateral. The bait.

And what this does is remove the Alien mystique. The Alien queen is reduced to a mere imprisoned pet, plopping out eggs on command for a game of hide and seek. The predators, with their invisibility devices, atomic bombs for wristwatches and a vast selection of armour, end up looking like nothing but spoilt children when deprived of their fancy explosive toys.  And the predator-cam we see here is completely inconsistent and unlike any of the established, signature mythos of before.

Thirdly, despite an obvious and clear love of the original films, director Paul W.S. Anderson shows none of the flair or intelligence of any of the other directors, not even a fraction of it. Heís handed the two most powerful sci-fi ongoing franchises in one bundle, and still manages to fuck it up. Thereís no subtlety, just brute force. Nonsensical editing which confuses, especially in the fight scenes, nothing original, just slavish but mindless imitation of what has gone on before without the intelligence to understand why it worked. Like a kid in a sweetshop, he saw the original movies filled with gore and guts and monsters, and not the subtext. Looking over his previous movies - Soldier, Event Horizon, Mortal Kombat, and Resident Evil - is evidence enough. Next he plans on adding two more video game adaptations - Driver and Resident Evil 3 - to his resume, and that tells you where heís coming from.

Perhaps the closest comparisons for this film is the original Resident Evil: team of soldiers enter an underground installation (The Hive/Pyramid),  where the undead (as in the Zombies/Alien soldiers) comes to life and starts to hunt them forcing them to find a way out before time runs out, coupled with an convenient escape mechanism (Rail Sled/Rail Sled).Rewriting your last movie might work for Porno, but not for this. As for the preposterous ending, itís like a cross between the X-Files movie and  Close Encounters- a mothership land in the middle of nowhere for no real reason and then flies off-  but not even fit to lick either movies boots.

 What a wasted opportunity this is. Directed and written with the sensibility of a 13 year old, it ultimately comes down to fights between men in rubber suits smacking each other into walls and blowing shit up. Whilst It has some redeeming features - and the nonsensical ending which does not so much destroy any remaining credibility as nuke it and piss on the remains whilst laughing sarcastically isnít one of those - this film is , whilst being enjoyable enough on a dumb and brainless level, a complete and total creative misfire. I mean, I enjoyed itÖbut its just laying waste to both franchises in the most hapless manner imaginable.

If you love the Alien or Predator movies, youíre gonna want to see this. You might even want to buy the eventual double disc DVD, and youíll hope the alternate Directors cut is going to make this film much much better. To be honest, it couldnít make it much worse, and that is a sad and true fact. I hear rumours they plan on giving Paul W.S. Anderson either Alien 6 or Predator 3, and I hope to god they change their minds and actually give it someone who can i)write a script and ii)Direct. Because if they donít, the studio are going to piss their chips making cheap shoddy Alien/predator sequels as a exploitative cash cow until it makes films like A nightmare on Elm Street 16, Friday the 13th part 23 and Ghost Ship look like Citizen Kane III:Return of the bad Ass. Roll on the printing press, because the money making machine is here to stay. Especially if people keep on seeing movies as dumb as this.  Its so bad, it makes me wish that Iíd downloaded it..i mean, Whats next? Klingons Vs. Predator? Two bad ass warrior space tribes with dreadlocks bashing the shit out of each other? Rambo Vs. Terminator anyone?

Either way, I hope not.itís not like thereís anything original in Men In Rubber suits bashing the hell out of scenery is there? In Japan, they does this and call Ďem Godzilla movies.Basically, if you love men in rubber suits smacking the shite out of each other with some X-Files conspiracies thrown in and one scene reminiscent of the thing, you might like it.

The tagline says Whoever Wins -we lose. How fucking true.

Comments
Written by Guest on 2004-11-11 20:46:20
er, Driver (the videogame) was based on a film of the same name, by the way.

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