ALIEN VS. PREDATOR
***** (out of 5)
October 15, 2004
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
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
There is one thing you have to keep reminding yourself about this film. The title is “Alien vs. Predator.” The title is not “Alien vs. Predator with a Lot of Deep Human Drama.” In fact, there is no mention of humans at all in the title. If anything, the tag line says it all: “Whoever wins, we lose.”
Part of the strength of “Alien” and “Aliens” was the fact that they both told separately awesome stories about a group of humans trapped in a really horrible situation. Who can forget the cast of characters from either film. (Not so much for the “Predator” films, unless you consider the pumped-up governor pairing of Jesse “the Body” Ventura and Arnold Schwarzenegger to be a source of raw human drama.)
In “Alien vs. Predator,” the humans are insignificant. They’re less than significant. In fact, they really only serve as incubation chambers for baby aliens and opportunities for an occasional plot point explanation with expository dialogue. But, this is important because the movie isn’t about them. It’s about Aliens and Predators kicking the holy shale out of each other.
This story takes place in modern times – actually a little ahead in October 2004. Weyland Industries (later referred to as “The Company” in the earlier Alien movies before it was bought out by Wal-Mart) 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. As you can imagine, the rather large exhibition team dwindles in numbers very quickly as the Aliens start hatching. Soon, the survivors realize they must stop the Aliens from escaping, while evading the Predators as well.
“Alien vs. Predator” follows an odd line of history. It’s not necessarily based on the earlier films, but rather based on a Dark Horse comic book series that was based on the earlier films. I’ve read some of the comics, but I admit I’m much more familiar with the movies. However, in having some discussions with the comic fans, “Alien vs. Predator” stays pretty true to the original source material. So chalk up another winner for the latest string of decent comic book movies.
Don’t get me wrong. “Alien vs. Predator” is by no means a tremendous film. It’s plot is whisper thin, and the characters have about as much depth as what you’ll see on a direct-to-video movie on the late-night SciFi Channel line-up. “Alien vs. Predator” doesn’t give you much to think about in terms of the human condition (remember, humans are insignificant to this film). But it’s fun. The less you expect, the more you’ll like it.
Director Paul W.S. Anderson delivers to fans what they’ve been waiting for ever since they saw the Alien skull displayed in the Predator trophy room in “Predator 2.” This is the go-to action movie of the summer to see the classic bad guys beating the crap out of each other. There’s not much more to the movie than that, but then again what did you expect?
“Alien vs. Predator” is the grand mother of all big, dumb action movies, but I had a lot of fun watching it. You can’t take it too seriously, and it’s a refreshing film after the darkly pretentious “Alien 3” and the nonsensical mess of “Alien Resurrection.” Just keep in mind that you’re never going to recreate the haunting magic of Ridley Scott’s classic film. In fact, I was relieved that Anderson didn’t try to redo the film. What’s the point of suspense if you generally know what’s going to happen?
In some ways, this movie is really more of a Predator sequel than an Alien sequel. Chronologically, it follows the first two “Predator” films and keeps in the spirit of these movies. (‘Cause they were, after all, just big, dumb summer action movies in their own right.)
I was fortunate enough to see “Alien vs. Predator” in a theater filled with die-hard AVP fans. And they loved it. That actually says a lot of a film that had such a potential to reek.