Saturday, January 12, 2008

Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem

Year: 2007
Director: Colin & Greg Strause
Cast: Steven Pasquale, Reiko Aylesworth, John Ortiz, Johnny Lewis, Ariel Gade, Robert Joy

What happens when you try putting together two hit franchises to make a new one? It's hard to say really, and even after two films, I'm still not entirely sure if it was better to try, or leave the franchises alone as they were.

I mean, it's hard to top the Alien films, when Scott, Cameron, Fincher and Jeunet did a great job on them, each with their own signature style. Even the widely panned Alien3 had Fincher's unique camera angles and dark brooding moods. And Predator? OK, forget the mess that was the sequel. The original Predator featuring Arnie is still one of his best films, and the predator became a very memorable screen monster for years to come.

And then, Resident Evil director Paul W.S Anderson decided to bring the two creatures together, as every geek worshipper of the two franchises who have read the comicbooks have dreamed of for so long. I'd give Anderson a B for his effort. And now, the sequel.

AVPR starts right where AVP left off: the predator that died at the hands of the Alien Queen was brought onto a Predator ship, where an Alien hybrid burst from his chest. The new Predalien kills all the predators on board and crashes the ship back onto Earth, in Gunnison, Colorado to be exact. A collection of facehuggers on board break loose and attack a man and his son in the woods.

This latest development is discovered by the Predator homeworld, and a lone Predator sets out to Earth to clean up the mess. Meanwhile, the aliens start breeding and killing the townsfolk in quick fashion, and between them and the Predator are the usual motley crew of survivors: a pair of brothers, the town sheriff, a female soldier who just returned from Iraq, her estranged daughter, and some really stupid kids.

And how do the Strause brothers fare? I can tell that they are huge fans of both series, as they borrow numerous references from the two franchises. One wonders if they're paying homage to them, or just ripping off from them. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but I am unsure as to how sincere this move is. Anyway, the Strauses do a good job in one aspect: the violence. What you see in this film surpasses AVP in blood and gore, and maybe this would be the kind of film Anderson wanted to make back then, but was apparently disallowed. The darkness factor, which comes with all the Alien films, is also present and nicely done by the brothers, although it was too dark in certain scenes.

But just like Anderson, the Strauses fail to give us the same feeling the core films did, which is a sense of awe. No matter how many times you watch the Alien and Predator films, you get that feeling, the feeling that something astounding is unfolding, from the Aliens' intelligent slaughter tactics, to the Predator's high tech hunting gadgets. And Ripley's dramatic face-offs with her enemies, Dutch's fight for survival against an enemy he can't see....this is all great storytelling. But the Strauses speed through their film so fast, you might miss someone getting maimed if you blinked.

They didn't make time to develop the characters, who aren't worth sympathising for in the first place. It's bad enough that most of the cast can't act, and even Reiko Aylesworth, from hit TV show 24 is a disappointment. At least Anderson gave us a decent story and slightly above average acting in AVP. Maybe the Strauses wanted the audience to root for the monsters instead. Well, no problem. Though the Predalien looks kinda silly. Really. We do get to see some cool new weapons from the Predators, and Robert Joy gets a small but fitting role as an Army colonel with an ulterior motive. But not much to save this film from being a B-grade monster movie.

It's fun enough and watchable, but I'd rather watch Aliens and Predator 5 more times. Recommended if you have 90 minutes to waste and nothing better to do. (3.5/5)

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