AvP: Alien versus Predator

Two of the most popular creatures of recent times are finally confronting one another on the silver screen. After a very successful series of comics and video games, the two iconic behemoths go face to face in what most fan-boys have been dreaming of for years.

The movie opens with the arrival of the predators, who it seems have created a pyramid structure under the polar ice caps many years ago with the intention of using it as a hunting ground. This area is used for juveniles’ predators to prove themselves and enter into their society as adults. On this occasion three predators arrive to hunt their quarry within the pyramid – Aliens.

However, prior to the hunters arriving, a team of archaeologists and other scientists have been brought to the ice caps by úber-rich industrialist Charles Bishop Weyland (Lance Henriksen) to discover what lies beneath the freezing ice. They discover the structures and more disturbingly they also discover the secret it holds within. Before they know what has hit them they (well the initial survivors) are fleeing from not only Aliens but also Predators as the two warriors groups go head to head.

Things take a turn for the worse when the Aliens decide that the best way for them to win is to release the captive Alien Queen that the Predators have been using to lay eggs for the unsuspecting host humans.

That’s about it as far as a plot goes – but to be fair there is a little more, but the merits of writing about characters that are solely in this film to be killed off is pointless. Even the token heroine, a blatant Ripley-wannabe played by Sanaa Lathan is so unconvincing that it’s ridiculous and the worrying thing is that she is not the worst actor in the film. Raoul Bova, Ewen Bremmer, Colin Salmon (best known for being Bond’s buddy in the recent films) and a whole host of European or American accented cherubs play the hosts for Alien embryos – in fact why the script even bothers to give their characters names is daft – they should just be numbered with the order they are going to be killed/impregnated in. There is the odd scene that tries to show the warmer characters of these guys, like having them show pictures of their kids, but it’s so tackily done that no one cares in the slightest.

There is no suspense, horror or even the same levels of gore to compare to any of the previous six films that these creatures feature in. Fox Studio has created a film that will appeal to the sort of teenagers that enjoy American Wrestling. The Video-gaming teens of today will probably think the film rocks unless they have had the good sense to watch any of the originals before this. Where’s the blood and gore? Where is the suspense (just re-watch Alien or Aliens and that will remind you of how suspenseful those films really are)? There is absolutely no excitement except for brief snippets during the creature fights, which are edited so fast it’s hard to tell what’s going on at times. The whole point of the film should have been a horror-critter showdown instead of the 80% meandering and waffle of the humans. The first fight comes nearly an hour into the proceedings and by then it’s getting painful to watch.

It’s one thing to make slight adjustments to extremely successful franchises, but it’s another to butcher them completely because you cannot think creatively. The blame lies with two people, the scriptwriter Paul W S Anderson and the director Paul W S Anderson, so it’s fair to say that Paul W S Anderson is the primary problem. How he managed to convince Fox to spend $70M on this tripe is any ones guess and why they gave the reins of such esteemed directors such as Ridley Scott, James Cameron and John McTiernan to a director who churns out formulaic popcorn fodder is another matter altogether. Since the release Anderson has been whinging that Fox water-downed his much more violent version, but that’s an argument he used after his bloodless zombie flick Resident Evil was released.

Speaking of lazy writing (Warning – if at all possible knowing the following points might spoil the film for you – but probably not) – can Anderson explain why the gestation period of the Aliens is reduced to mere minutes before fully grown Aliens are roaming around as opposed to hours and days? Or why the Predators go to the coldest place on the planet even though the previous films state that they only come in the hottest years to the hottest places? Or how predators manage to keep a live Alien Queen alive for so long with no visible means of nutrition? Or why the predators don’t bring their laser weapons with them instead leave them lying around in the pyramid? Or why do the Predators at the end not see what is in their comrade using their special vision (which was even used earlier in the film)? Or why the acid blood of the Aliens melt the Predators weapons in certain scenes and not others? And why an attacked predator didn’t think anything was wrong after waking up next to a dead face hugger is another unanswered question. Don’t even get me started on the cringe worthy final scene.

Other annoying aspects include why when the ‘hero’ predator removes his mask he looks like a cheap puppet compare to the original films? Or why such a powerful heat signature from the pyramids doesn’t melt the ice above it yet it can be sensed from outer space? What was the point of the ridiculously laughable scene of Alexa and a Predator running away together in slow-motion with hair and dreadlocks flowing? And having a Predator make a shield from an Alien Skull and a spear from its tail to give to a human (whose arm should have melted off the moment she stuck her hand in incidentally) is laughable (what exactly she was going to do with a 12” wide shield is another question).

So many questions and so little time spent caring. Apologies for the ranting review, but this film has trashed two of my favourite franchises. It is a perfect example of what is wrong with modern formulaic film making – instead of being entertained the audience is left feeling empty and disappointed. For once the film tag “Whoever wins, we lose” is correct, unfortunately the ‘we’ is the audience in this case. Avoid this tripe and read the much superior Aliens Versus Predator comics from Dark Horse instead.

SCORE 3/10