ALIEN vs. PREDATOR

THREE GUYS AND… A MOVIE

series created by Marvin Mercer and Nick Stephenson

“ALIEN vs. PREDATOR”

written by Dominick Cappello

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POSITIVE:

The fight we’ve all been waiting for since that Alien skull made an appearance in “Predator 2” (1990). This crossover film opens with a shot of a satellite which resembles the Alien Queen. The satellite belongs to Weyland Industries and discovers a pyramid buried beneath the ice in Antarctica. The story is set in 2004, the year of the film’s release.

The protagonist is Alexa “Lex” Woods, played by Sanaa Lathan, a mountain climber and guide. She appeared in “Blade” (1998) and was the voice of Donna Brown on “The Cleveland Show” (2009 – 2013). Sigourney Weaver never had any interest in the notion of “Alien vs. Predator.” It’s hard to replace a character as iconic as Ellen Ripley. Sanaa Lathan was decent. Her character wasn’t too memorable, but how much character development would you expect from a monster mash?

Maxwell Stafford, played by Colin Salmon, a favorite of director Paul W.S. Anderson, serves as an emissary for Charles Bishop Weyland. Weyland uses the John Hammond technique of luring people by funding whatever organization they happen to be affiliated with. Also recruited is Sebastian de Rossa, an archeologist played by Raoul Bova, who biggest claim to fame is discovering a bottle cap, but I don’t mind the Pepsi product placement. It’s the choice of a new generation. En route, Lex meets Graeme Miller, a chemical engineer played by Ewen Bremner. I guess you could qualify if as the comic relief. I enjoyed him in “The Rundown” (2003). There is briefing held aboard a vessel on its way to the pyramid. Charles Bishop Weyland is revealed and it’s Lance Henriksen, the only returning cast member from any of the previous films, but as a new character.

Lex is reluctant to lead the expedition because the lack of prep time, but is ultimately compelled to do so. Meanwhile, a spacecraft is heading towards Earth. The occupants remain hidden, but their helmets let the audience know that they are Predators. The plan is to drill beneath the ice and reach the pyramid from an abandoned whaling station above, but a tunnel has already been created by an energy beam fired from the spacecraft. There are three Predators in this film. Some have complained that the creature designs don’t match the original “Predator” (1987), but I like that not every Predator looks exactly the same. I want to see variety. Different variations of the same species. Heck, if nothing else, it’s a reason to produce more action figures.

Lex realizes that Weyland is in poor health, but he insists on exploring the pyramid to secure his legacy. Inside the pyramid, hieroglyphics show an Alien and Predator in a conflict, an image from the comic books. Their arrival triggers the thawing out of the Alien Queen, who is held in chains. This was probably the coolest reveal in the entire movie. The now redundant team of drillers still at whaling station are killed by the Predators. Inside the pyramid, the sacrificial chamber is discovered. This is where face-huggers were used on willing sacrifices to appease the Gods. The life cycle of the Aliens is fast forwarded in this film. The Queen has already produced her eggs. I believe that there is some sort of an explanation in the comic books as to why the Predators altered the DNA of the Aliens. I guess that they’re just impatient.

Once the humans realize that they’ve been lured into a trap, it’s already too late. Where’s Admiral Ackbar when you need him? The face-huggers latch onto a few of peripheral characters after the pyramid reconfigures, trapping everyone inside. The Predators attack first, killing characters so insignificant that I don’t even think they had names. This gives the Aliens enough time to burst out of people’s chests and grow to full size. Like I said, the life cycle of the Aliens was speed up big time.

Lex, Weyland, and Sebastian attempt to escape, but Weyland’s illness prevents him from continuing, so he sacrifices himself. Lance Henriksen was given a good death scene, setting Scar, the main Predator, ablaze before being stabbed in the gut. Sebastian deciphers the hieroglyphics and explains the backstory that all ancient pyramids where built in part by the Predators to be used for great hunts. These Predators were worshipped by ancient peoples as Gods. After Sebastian is no longer necessary to the plot, the Aliens drag him away to be cocooned, leaving Lex with no choice other than to join forces with Scar and fight the Aliens together. Okay, that is a bit hokey. They set off a massive explosion, destroying the pyramid, but just like in “Aliens” (1986), the Queen survived for one final showdown. The Queen is speared in the face and dragged down into the icy water, but not before it impaled Scar with her tail, so there is no real winner. It’s basically a draw. The climax of the film is similar to “Predator 2” with the Clan Leader Predator presenting Lex with weapon. Of course, there is cliffhanger for a sequel with a chest-burster emerging from Scar’s limp carcass. An Alien / Predator hybrid? Awesome.

– Dr. Jelly

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INDIFFERENT:

“Alien vs. Predator” was everything before it was a movie. Comic books, action figures, trading cards, and video games. Usually, all of this merchandise comes as a byproduct of the movie. In this case, the merchandise was around for well over a decade before “Alien vs. Predator” hit the big screens in 2004. In one of the early scenes, Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff, Jr., the team responsible for all of the creature effects, make cameos as “Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man” (1943), the original monster mash, plays on a TV. Other famous monster mash flicks include “King Kong vs. Godzilla” (1963) and “Freddy vs. Jason” (2003). This film serves as sequel to the “Predator” franchise and as a prequel to the “Alien” franchise.

Paul W.S. Anderson was clearly inspired by the notion of “Chariots of the Gods?” by Erich Von Daniken. His theory was that extraterrestrials influenced early civilizations here on Earth. Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich were also inspired by the wisdom of Erich Von Daniken when making “Stargate” (1994). In this instance, the ancient alien astronauts were the Predators. You could argue that the backstory of this film is more intriguing than the finished product.

One badass Alien, who was called Grid, kills two Predators in their first encounter. I guess that it was more cost effective to only have one Predator. This sole surviving  Predator was called Scar. Grid was played by Tom Woodruff, Jr., who was also in the suit for “Alien 3” (1992) and “Alien Resurrection” (1997). Scar was played by Ian White, who has appeared on “Game of Thrones” (2011 – Present) as various characters.

Lance Henriksen portrays Charles Bishop Weyland, who is evidently the model of the Bishop android from “Aliens,” so I’m sticking to my guns and saying that Bishop II from “Alien 3” was a clone. He recreates the knife game from “Aliens” with a pen, a nice little nod to much more heralded film. He is in charge of Weyland Industries. Weyland-Yutani was the evil corporation from the first three “Alien” films. In “Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem,” a Ms. Yutani is introduced, so I assume that she took over Weyland Industries after the death of Lance Henriksen. There were more overall connections to the “Alien” franchise than there was to the “Predator” franchise in the two “Alien vs. Predator” flicks. If Arnold Schwarzenegger had not been elected Governor of California, he would have reprised his role as Colonel Dutch Schaeffer for a cameo. That would have been so cool, but such is life. There was also speculation that Danny Glover would reprise his role as Lieutenant Mike Harrigan in “Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem.” But, sadly, that also did not happen.

The Alien Queen is dragged down to the bottom of the ocean at the end of the film. I’m surprised that the Predator didn’t meet the same fate as that is a tradition in these monster mash movies. In “Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein” (1948), The Wolf Man grabbed Count Dracula while in the form of a bat and they fell into a raging river. Then, The Frankenstein Monster fell into the same river after the dock was set on fire. In “King Kong vs. Godzilla,” the two mighty monsters tackled each other into the ocean. King Kong emerged, but Godzilla was MIA. In “Freddy vs. Jason,” an explosion knocked both slasher icons into Camp Crystal Lake. I guess that if I owned the rights to one of these characters, I wouldn’t want them to suffer a lose to a character from a rival franchise, so they are protected for when they are featured again in a solo film. The monsters falling into the water must be the compromise that the producers always reach.

There was no third “AVP” film. They are separate franchises once again. There was the Robert Rodriguez produced “Predators” (2009) and Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus” (2012). Everyone seems to now think that idea of “Alien vs. Predator” was juvenile, but in “Predators,” the Predators did hunt non-humans. There was another alien species referred to by the filmmakers as the river-ghost. So, why is it so far fetched that the Predators would indeed hunt the Aliens? Also, there were some freaky similarities between “Alien vs. Predator” and “Prometheus.” You have the head of the corporation that will become Weyland-Yutani, who is fearing death, putting a expedition together. Charles Bishop Weyland wanted his name to live forever, whereas Peter Weyland, played by Guy Pearce, literally wanted to be immortal. There are cave paintings in “Prometheus,” so that is more “Chariots of the Gods?” influence. The endings of the two films are also similar with a xenomorph bursting out of the chest of an non-human. Trust me, this is the only time that I will ever compare the work of Paul W.S. Anderson to that of Ridley Scott.

– Dr. Rochester

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NEGATIVE:

Whoever wins… we lose. Yep, we all lost after watching this piece of crap. How bad was it? This film was rated PG-13. None of the other films in either franchise had been rated anything other than R. You know what I find the most annoying about PG-13 horror flicks? Cutting away every time someone is stabbed to show the blood spatter. Is it wrong that I wish to kick Paul W.S. Anderson in the testicles?

He was already on my shit-list after “Resident Evil” (2002). Seriously, how the hell are the cut scenes in the video games better than the movie adaptation? Milla Jovovich married this schmuck. Doesn’t that piss you off? He’s totally bias towards the Aliens and that doesn’t even make my top ten of what’s wrong with this movie. The characters are introduced in the reverse order in which they die, so you know right off the bat who’s important to the story and who’s going to be killed off early, eliminating any and all suspense.

Someone at Twentieth Century Fox thought it would be hip to market this film as “AVP.” Everyone needs to stop trying to recreate the magic of “T2.” Sanaa Latham and Ewen Bremner meet on a helicopter, halfway into their journey. Why didn’t they meet when they boarded the aircraft? Was this creep just watching her sleep the whole time? I’m not blaming the actors for this garbage. The screenplay gave them nothing to work with. At least have the drillers bully the scientists, so there is some sort of conflict. Anything to let us get to know these characters before they die.

Raoul Bova mentions the “hunter’s moon,” which may not even be a real thing. So, this movie takes place in Antarctica? Remember how in the other “Predator” movie, the Predators would only hunt in extremely warm climates? Well, it seems that the esteemed Paul W.S. Anderson doesn’t give two shits about continuity. I’m sure that they explain on the DVD commentary that the pyramid was built centuries ago before Antarctica was a frozen wasteland, but really I think they were feebly trying to emulate the style of John Carpenter’s “The Thing” (1982). I’ve never been a fan of cheap scares, especially with the use of a penguin. The DVD did have one special feature that I was interested in. An alternate opening deemed to terrifying to be shown in theaters. Too bad that it was not terrifying. It took place in 1904 and had a Predator looking at an Alien with its heat vision. That was it. Nothing even remotely scary.

The Predators are introduced first, which is the just the first example of how Paul W.S. Anderson show his favoritism towards the Aliens. The Predators just kind of show up while the Alien Queen gets an epic reveal. Whoever shows up second is the favorite. Colin Salmon’s death scene is the worst I’ve ever seen because it was PG-13. He’s caught in the Predator’s net, then gets speared. That sounds fine, but it was edited so poorly. Everything to avoid showing the penetration. They cut from close up of his eyes, to the spear making contact with the ground behind him, to his eyes closing, to blood trickling down the spear. No wide shots. Not even a medium shot. How could Paul W.S. Anderson not see how shitty that looked? It was borderline incomprehensible.

One freaking Alien kills two Predators. I have to call bullshit on that. How much more favoritism can this film show for towards the Alien? Then, there’s all that whole bullshit about the pyramid changing shapes. I guess that would be fine in a silly video game. Paul W.S. Anderson makes bad video game movies. That’s what he does. Bad movies based on good video games. “Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem” (2007) was at least rated R. Was it better? No! It was actually worse! The Alien / Predator hybrid crash lands and runs amok in a small town. It’s practically a “Friday the 13th” movie with underdeveloped, horny teenager. It could not have been any worse.

– Dr. Frisbee

Author: Marvin Mercer

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