Dylan no likey this final mash-up between the Alien and the Predator.
Who made it?: Colin Strause, Greg Strause (Directors), Shane Salerno (Writer), John Davis, David Giler, Walter Hill (Producers), 20th Century Fox/Davis Entertainment/Brandywine Productions.
Who’s in it?: Steven Pasquale, Reiko Aylesworth, John Ortiz, Johnny Lewis, Robert Joy.
Tagline: “This Christmas there will be no peace on Earth.”
IMDb rating: 4.7/10.
I wouldn’t usually start an article with how I first watched the film in question, but I feel in this case it is highly relevant. I went to see AVPR: Aliens vs. Predator – Requiem on its first week out at the cinema. As I had a little time to kill beforehand, I went to Walkabout for a drink. For those not in the know, Walkabout is a chain brand of Australian-themed pubs, which are a mishmash of different ideas with no real consistent feel. I had an extremely watery pint of larger, and sat down at a rickety table. Although a sunny day, it was dark and gloomy inside.
This pretty much sums up AVPR. It is one of the most tangible cases of a film based purely on franchising, without any internal merit, that there could possibly be. Whatever you might think of Alien 3 and Resurrection, there was some tremendous talent behind those movies, even if the true coherence of their vision wasn’t realised. Both David Fincher and Joss Whedon have insisted that their creative expectations didn’t come to the forefront. Even the first AVP movie had some elements of the mythology of the series. This film is just a mess of different horror and soap concepts meshed together. Gone are gritty mining ships, androids and marines; instead we have lovesick teenagers and comedy stoners. Requiem is the perfect subtitle for the movie; a completely pointless add-on to an already completed product.
The plot follows directly on from the first movie. After the “Predalien” breaks free on the Predator spaceship, it crash-lands in a sleepy American town (is there any other kind?). As the aliens begin to multiply, and the Predator tasked with cleaning up the mess beings to hunt, the last survivors of the town must rally together to survive. And that’s it.
Crucially, AVP2 is not the worst movie ever. There are a few good ideas here, and it is surprisingly dark in places, with children and babies dying horribly. If this was just a non-franchised monster movie, or even just a lesser series’ sequel, then it would be silly but forgettable fun. Indeed, it would be unfair to slam so heavily a movie of that nature. It’s only because it has a direct correlation with one of the most famous and influential science fiction movies of all time that this film is so hard to watch.
There are two huge problems with the movie that really stop it in its tracks. Firstly, bringing the Alien and Predator series to a small US town provides an unfamiliar backdrop to both series, and it just doesn’t sit right. Those unsure what a “Predalien” or even what Predators or Aliens are won’t find any answers. No-one has any idea what they are, and even the basic principles of a hunter and parasitic race, respectively, are never explained. With both creatures of course not speaking English, they seem locked in a very private battle, that we aren’t invited to. This renders the flick nothing but fan service, and a slasher flick in the vein of Freddy vs. Jason rather than action or science fiction.
At the same time, half the movie is soap opera-level character development, from stereotypical jocks to bad boys entering town. Although the Alien and Predator series both contained a lot of dialogue scenes, at least they were set within a world that suited the concept. All the issues they deal with are real issues that clash horribly with the monsters. You could literally cut half the movie and never guess it was AVP2. Many of the subplots (such as the jocks bullying a specific boy and his girlfriend) could actually be interesting to explore when chaos ensues. However, the characters die off so quickly that any chance to do so is ignored for cannon fodder. There are a few good moments of Predator versus Alien action, but mostly it finishes far too quickly. This culminates when the Predalien and Predator square off against each other, in a scene the movie really sells as important. However, the whole fight lasts about thirty seconds, working out as nothing more than a round of fisticuffs that kills both characters.
It’s a shame as it isn’t necessary a defunct concept. 30 Days of Night manages to bring the essentially silly notion of a group of vampires attacking a small town and turn it into something memorable, as well as truly scary. What we are left with here is a hodgepodge that will alienate audience members in equal measures.
Also, the movie is dark. Not in its themes of course, but in the lighting. This might sound like a silly gripe that could be fixed with a gamma increase, but it really is remarkable how gloomy it is. Most of the film takes place either at night or in the sewers. With the fight scenes shot very close, there are points when it becomes incredibly difficult to see what is going on. This gives the movie a real sense of a direct-to-video release, which considering the budget of this movie is remarkable. Whatever you might think about Hollywood rom-coms and cheesy action films, there is at least a high level of professionalism going on in creating those movies. Whilst I’m not suggesting this movie was made by amateurs, it does feel like an inferior knock-off rather than a serious flick. Again, bearing in mind this could be considered canon with two of the most influential films of all time, it is a real shame.
Those who have seen the Resident Evil series will find an incredible amount of similarities, and this is the absolute crux of the problem; the fact this is Alien vs. Predator is entirely moot. Replace them with other fictional creatures, and you could shoot the same movie, quite literally word-for-word (no-one calls them by name at any point). This movie is the closest to bad fan-fiction that there has ever been; it really does feel as if they’ve stolen the characters without asking for copyright permission. If you think you want to watch this movie, watch Alien, Aliens and Predator again and again instead.
There are glimmers of a decent battle in the first meeting of Alien and Predator, but apart from that? Watch the other films.
- Despite critical devastation, AVP2 made over a hundred million worldwide. The Strause brothers went on to direct Skyline, and to be fair to them, work on the visual effects of some fantastic movies, including the recent Avengers movie.
- This is the first movie in both the Predator and the AVP-based series that actually feature scenes of the Predators’ home planet. It was at one time hoped to include scenes of the Aliens’ home world. Conceptual art was created and it was even storyboarded to be used as the closing shot of the movie, but ultimately the idea was dropped in favor of using it in a potential third film.
- Screenwriter Scott Salerno wrote for the remake of Hawaii Five-O, and a project called Survivors.
- The Predator was nicknamed “Wolf” by the filmmakers, after the character Winston Wolfe in Pulp Fiction. His role in the film, like Wolfe’s, is described as that of a “cleaner” – one who covers up assassinations, accidents, and other messy situations.
- Bill Paxton was approached to play the diner chef so he could appear in the second Predator, Alien and AvP film in each series. However, scheduling conflicts prevented him from making an appearance.
- This is special effects maestro Tom Woodruff’s fourth time in the alien costume.