- "This is a movie for people unlike the tards reviewing this based on plot. This movie is for those people who want to see mindless killing with a spicy mixture of predators doing the cooler, stylish killing and aliens just out right killing. Case in point, a great movie."
- - someone on the internet who surprisingly has a point
I enjoyed the first Alien vs. Predator film, but less explicably I enjoyed this too. It's clearly worse even than its predecessor and it's frustrating to see Fox make these lowbrow schlock-fests when there's good material waiting to be adapted from Dark Horse, but I had fun with it anyway. Some people like action films. Others like to watch hot women doing... well, anything at all, really. Me, I enjoy seeing extraterrestrials kill people. I'm reviewing the extended DVD version, by the way.
That said, it's easy to see why this film is so widely disliked. It's a "cheer for the monsters" movie. Everyone loves strong villains, but it's much harder to get behind a story that doesn't have any heroes for them to oppose. Silence of the Lambs is a great film. Obviously. Hannibal Lecter is a legend, but he also needs his Clarice Starling or else it's just the filmmakers falling in love with their monster and forgetting to put him in a story. Which brings us to any number of slasher flicks and, whaddya know, Aliens vs. Predator - Requiem.
That said, most of the characters are fine. Shallow, but functional. I liked the guy who's just come out of prison, while I didn't mind the hapless town sheriff or the soldier who's just returned from a tour of duty to her husband and daughter. Nothing wrong with any of them. The soldier is underused, but that hardly matters since she's just a human and you won't care about them. After a while their dialogue becomes interchangeable and in any case you're on the side of the extraterrestrials. The more killing, the better. Violent death isn't scary. On the contrary, it's a matter of indifference, laughter or in one case fist-pumping delight until you realise OH SHIT, HE ISN'T DEAD.
Alien harbingers of terror? Naaah, by now they're offworld comedians. No, really. They're funny. Twice they had me laughing aloud, with my favourite gag being a father's reaction to being told that there's a monster outside his daughter's window. Obviously I'd prefer my Aliens to be in a proper movie, but you take what you're given. Interestingly for about twenty seconds at the hospital the film seems to be on the verge of getting scary after all, but then they cut to a full-screen shot of the Predator kicking down a door and it's back to cartoon-land.
I wouldn't quite say that the humans are a waste of space, but you won't care what happens to them. Guns? Yeah, why not? They'll keep you alive, sure they will. Of them the ex-jailbird is the most dynamic, by which I mean that he doesn't whine and gets a good line or two. "You're too stupid to talk, Dale, shut up." The humans also get an interesting decision late in the day, whether to trust the U.S. Army's assurances or to turn tail and ignore the promised airlift to safety. That was a good bit, but frankly the best thing these people can do is die. Sometimes this is a bit gory. The fans got excited about AVP being rated PG-13 while this was an R, but note that here in Britain, the BBFC rated them both 15. The splatter isn't horrifying for a moment, but it can be funny, e.g. acid spray making an arm fall off. However my favourite part is that the film's prepared to kill children and by implication even babies.
That's all the good I have to say about the characterisation in this film. As for the bad... well, it has a name. Meet Ricky.
How can I express my feelings about this guy? You know how horror movies have a reputation for creating unlikeable one-dimensional characters, usually teenagers? Ricky is their patron saint. We first meet this loser kicking up a fuss at his pizza delivery job, which he only got in the first place because the boss was being nice to Ricky's guidance counsellor. He doesn't want to wear the hat. Why? He doesn't want to deliver to a certain address? Why? Okay, we soon learn the reason why, but our hero has a knack for looking like a dickhead even when he has a point. Lurking at this address are three splendid individuals who punch him in the face and throw his car keys down a storm drain. Nice one. If only they'd beaten him to death with baseball bats, this film would be 100000000 times better.
Worse yet, there's a girl who likes him, which even without the personality factor is a plot thread that was always going to feel out of place in a movie called Aliens vs. Predator - Requiem. Teenage love and extraterrestrial killing machines. Don't really go together, do they? This girl seemed fine until she took her clothes off for Ricky and thus became another loser like him. Unforgiveably she even keeps on her underwear.
Mind you, even if we concede that 80% of this movie's faults are called Ricky, that still leaves us plenty more to talk about. Listen to the dialogue. "Eddie, you're in over your head. What you gonna do?" Or my personal favourite: "You remember all those times you told me how much you missed mommy? It's okay to tell mommy that." There's a distraught woman looking for her son and husband, which might sound reasonable except that we saw them killed and thus have no interest in seeing this woman fail to find them. There also seems to be something of a Ricky gene in the local population, with some rednecks managing to look like arseholes even when professing reasonable sentiments. "Round here we take care of our own, sheriff. We're going to do the search whether you like it or not."
Damn, how did I spend so much time talking about the walking meat? Time for the stars of the show.
On the one side are Aliens and a Predalien, who's a Predator-Alien crossbreed in the same way that Alien3 gave us a dog-Alien. I'm sure he might even have looked good, if only I'd been able to see him. The film's overloaded with full-screen shots of its extraterrestrials, yet it's all wasted because the production team seem to think everything should be dark, wet and shiny. This even applies in quiet moments like the Predator's forensic crash scene investigation, which is boring simply because it's too much work to see what's going on. Similarly the Predator-Predalien fight is a let-down because you'd need to pause the film and get out charts and diagrams to tell apart the combatants. The Predator's heat-sensing vision was often my only clue as to the geography of a scene.
The Predalien isn't even original. Obviously it was in the final shot of the previous movie, but in the sprawling Aliens vs. Predator franchise of comics, books, movies and computer games, it seems that Predaliens are all over the place. Usually they're the result of a Predator getting jumped by a facehugger, although occasionally some idiot has deliberately made one through genetic experimentation. There's even a Predalien Queen in Extinction (2003). However paying attention to the extended universe would take us to a scary place of Aliens vs Predator vs Terminator, Predator vs Tarzan At The Earth's Core and even Batman vs. Alien Hybrids of his comic-book foes. Apparently this involved a Joker Alien, a Two-Face Alien, a Riddler Alien and so on. Oh dear. Moving swiftly on.
The mythos is developed. We glimpse the Predator's homeworld, although there were originally to have been entire scenes set there. There's a new method of reproduction for the Predalien, which takes H.R. Giger's original rape metaphor to a new and scary place that could have been downright disturbing in a better film. The Predator helmets have a "dead man's eyes" function. All that's good.
However the Predator itself is stupid. The idea is that he's Harvey Keitel from Pulp Fiction. He's not a trophy-taking hunter, but the guy who comes in and cleans up their accidents. He doesn't just kill the Aliens, but destroys the evidence with glowing acid. However if so, why does he skin a man and hang him upside-down from a tree for the locals to find, then later shed his weapons for a mano-a-mano fight? In addition, why's there only one of him? Bit cocky, isn't it? I can understand that he wasn't expecting the Predalien, but the situation ends up so out of control that even without that I can't think he was up to the job. Note that early in the film, the Aliens twice have him where they want him, but conveniently just knock him a long way instead of, say, pulling his head off and using it for a Halloween lantern.
I haven't yet mentioned the homages. That's a good word. We have a character called Dallas. We have a little girl who screams on seeing Aliens and is under the protection of a woman with a gun. The sound effects, the rain, the helicopter, the tank... the kind way to describe the last reel of this film is that it's tipping the hat to its predecessors. Heavily. To the extent that some might say it's ripping them off.
I'd better stop. This is an easy film to bash. However despite everything I've said, I did enjoy it on that aforementioned Neanderthal level and will soon give Alien vs. Predator another whirl to boot. It's violent enough to be funny and is at least clearly having a laugh with its extraterrestrial marauders. For the most part it's perfectly acceptable slasher nonsense, if you can screen out that one character so unspeakable that he drags the whole film down by association. Ignore him and you'll have a much better time. Furthermore in the end even he doesn't much matter, since by that point you'll have almost forgotten which human is which. Who cares about the survivors, anyway?