ALIEN VS. PREDATOR
MOVIE: **** (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5)
Sanaa Lathan as ALEXA WOODS
Raoul Bova as SEBASTIAN DE ROSA
Lance Henriksen as CHARLES BISHOP WEYLAND
Ewen Bremner as GRAEME MILLER
Colin Salmon as MAXWELL STAFFORD
Tommy Flanagan as MARK VERHEIDEN
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Directed by: Paul W.S. Anderson
BY KEVIN CARR
When the movie “Alien vs. Predator” came out, I was pretty kind – especially in light of what other critics have said. What can I say? I like both movie series, and I had been waiting anxiously for an “Alien vs. Predator” movie since that Alien skull showed up on the Predator’s mantle in “Predator 2.”
In this film, the modern-day Weyland Industries (later referred to as “The Company” in the earlier Alien movies) detects a mysterious heat signature under the ice in Antarctica. Charles Bishop Weyland (Lance Henriksen), the head of the company and the obvious template for the Bishop android, gathers an exhibition team to study the source of the heat signature, an underground pyramid. As the team descends into the ice, a Predator ship is lurking above and sends down three hunters after them. The humans accidentally stumble across the purpose of the pyramid – a breeding ground for Aliens.
The “AVP” DVD has some pretty nifty features on it. There is an extended version of the film that contains an alternate opening. While this is the most heavily advertised part of the disc, it’s somewhat lackluster in practice and provides only a slight teaser as to the Predator and Alien presence at the Antarctic whaling station in 1904.
The better elements to the DVD include the behind-the-scenes information. There are two full-length commentary tracks – one with director Paul W.S. Anderson, Lance Henriksen and Sanaa Lathan, and the other with the special/visual effects teams. Both commentary tracks are worthwhile, shedding light on different aspects of the film.
There are also deleted scenes and a “Making Of” featurette that shows the intricate detail that was put to not just the alien designs, but also to the set designs.
One thing that I did get a little tired of hearing during the DVD commentary and the behind-the-scenes videos was how pleased as punch the filmmakers were with the story. Now, I liked this movie quite a bit, but I’d be the first to point out that it didn’t have the strongest story around. Ultimately, this was a thirtysomething equivalent of a bunch of horny teenage kids going to Camp Crystal Lake for a weekend retreat. So, here’s where the filmmakers could have patted themselves on the back a little less.
But see, the story doesn’t matter as much with this. If you’ve spent any time reading the “Alien vs. Predator” comic books (or any of the Alien crossover books), the stories have never been the strongest suit. Really, the fun part of these books was to watch Aliens and Predators go at each other like a wild interstellar WWE Smackdown event.
For real comic book geeks and DVD freaks, there are some excellent DVD-ROM features. Normally I skip these because they feature little more than links to extern web sites or downloadable script elements. However, this disc is worth opening up in a DVD-ROM, at the very least for the first edition AVP comic book. There’s also a background study on the whole Alien versus Predator phenomenon as well as a 16-page teaser for the upcoming AVP graphic novel.
While some have bemoaned the recent stir of “Versus” movies like “AVP” and “Freddy vs. Jason,” I have loved them. To me, this is a fun throw-back to the kitschy duels that Universal headlined between Dracula, the Wolf Man and the Frankenstein Monster in the 1940s. I’ve always loved crossover stories, and that’s really how you have to look at “AVP.” Even director Paul W.S. Anderson points out in his commentary track that he saw this as a separate franchise, apart from either series. I, for one, look forward to a continuing slate of Alien vs. Predator films coming to the local cineplex.
Specifications: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. Widescreen (2.35:1) – Enhanced for 16×9 televisions. Spanish and French language tracks. Spanish subtitles. English subtitles for the hearing impaired.