Friday, January 15, 2016

Alien vs. Predator Film Review


Director: Paul W. S. Anderson
Cast: Sanaa Lathan, Lance Henriksen, Raoul Bova, Ewen Bremner, Colin Salmon
Series: Alien/ Predator (Crossover), Alien vs. Predator
MPAA Rating: R
Length: 101 minutes

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Alien vs. Predator

(Spoilers for the previous Alien and Predator films below).

If you thought it was possible for the Alien franchise to fall any further than it did after Alien Resurrection, think again.  Alien vs. Predator is awarded the task to ruin not one great science fiction franchise, but two.

This has nearly all the makings of a terrible film: one dimensional characters, terrible acting, a plot that undermines previous installments in both Predator and Alien franchises, and scenes that defy logic in ways that would insult any casual action film fan.

A new low for Predator, a new low for Alien – as the monsters from each tired franchise battle each other for supremacy, I find myself wanting both monsters to die so Hollywood can’t make any more of these terrible movies.  Regrettably, in AVP, you can’t always get what you want.
In the year 2004 Charles Bishop Weyland (Lance Henriksen) a wealthy corporate figure discovers a pyramid buried hundreds of feet under the ice in Antarctica.  He assembles a team of archeologists, linguists, mercenaries, and gets a mountain climbing guide named Alexa (Sanaa Lathan) to lead the expedition to explore this pyramid.

As the humans begin their exploration, a Predator ship hovering over Earth beams in Predators to the hidden pyramid.  The Predators goal is to eliminate the Aliens that had been lurking in a stasis in the pyramid for thousands of years.

The plot to this movie easily takes any casual thinker straight out of the story.  A perfectly preserved Aztec pyramid is buried under hundreds of feet of Antarctic ice? The pyramid bear characteristics of Cambodian, Aztec, and Egyptian features – a fact that really undermines the Alien/Predator back story that appears later in the film, since all these civilizations existed thousands of years apart from one another.

The characters wear casual winter clothing in a place where the average temperature hovers regularly between -40 to -70 degrees Fahrenheit year round.  As the story progresses it can easily be presumed that the filmmakers were hoping audiences would forget the fact that the film was taking place in Antarctica, or maybe they were simply hoping people had no idea where Antarctica was or how cold it is there. Nothing takes you out of the film more than the fact that it continues to defy simple logic at every turn.

Either way this movie thrives on audience ignorance, or at least it believes its audience is stupid and doesn’t know any better.  The back story given about the Predators and Aliens and their relationship to Earth is cheap and lacks any originality.  It plays off wacky conspiracy theories that humans weren’t the original creators of pyramids, and the fact the film tries to lend some credence to those theories while trying to make a buck off of film goers who believe in conspiracies makes watching this film even more frustrating.

I like to believe, with the exception of Weyland, that there aren’t any characters in this movie, rather the humans are poor excuses for fodder and bloody sacks of meat that are meant to be ripped apart by Aliens and Predators.   It almost becomes a contest: who is better at brutally killing humans, Aliens or Predators?  – What’s the correct answer to that question… it’s who gives a shit?

The actors that portray these sacks of meat are holding positions such as archeologist or linguist, in short positions that require some degree of intelligence. Unfortunately none of this implied intelligence ever surfaces in these characters, and instead it appears this pyramid is being explored by a bunch of juveniles that are still learning how to talk to women and haven’t made it past puberty.

Alien franchise staple Lance Henriksen doesn’t add anything to this film.  His appearance feels like a blasphemous attempt to connect AVP to the Alien story.  Any decent minded person wouldn’t want this convoluted film associated with anything related to either the Alien or Predator franchise. Sanaa Lathan as the female lead plays a character that lacks consistency and is constantly compromising her values.  As the central protagonist she makes it nearly impossible to be liked, and as for me I was personally rooting for her death.

The only thing I liked about this film was some of the visuals.  The pyramid looks pretty good, and the constantly changing pyramid floors were a nice twist that was capitalized on to create some gruesome deaths.  Apart from that, everything else about Alien vs. Predator was a nightmare.  By the time the two iconic monsters finally clashed, I was so thoroughly upset with the film I could have cared less about which monster came out on top.  That is the idea that sums up Alien vs. Predator: this is a film that couldn’t have cared less.

Score: 1.2

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