Aliens Vs. Predator Vs. Me



Some of this review is cut and pasted from a comment left on the other AvP thread, but I rewrote much of it. Basically, I’m a die hard fan of the ALIENS films because in many ways these were the first horror movies I ever saw and embraced. As with many early films I adored, I created personal relationships with the characters. Kinships. And the Aliens themselves have always captured my imagination — the simplicity and ferocity of their way of life. The ant hive mentality meets lizard brain efficiency. The violence of their reproduction. They rape you, they use you, they kill you. All in the name of increasing their numbers, of surviving…

And the design of the aliens – violent but sensual, the genius of HR giger. So different than any “alien” we’d ever seen before — more animal then man. Not looking for world conquest from a human point of view, like Darth Vader or Emperor Ming — but simply from a biological one. Just ants building a hive and not caring what they use for fodder. Creatures as natural (and as lethal) as a virus. Spreading. Because that’s what they do.

It made sense to me that someone would try to develop or harness this kind of “weaponry”. I can’t believe nobody has ever tried to explore the origins of the “Space Jockey” in the first movie — a story that demands to be told. But then, to do so might take away from the mystery. Seeing an ALIEN planet could only be disappointing compared to what we might imagine.

Then you have the Predator — a much more humanistic (in culture as well as appearance) creature. Just as mysterious as the Alien, from origins unknown, using us — as the aliens do — as fodder. But not for survival — for amusement. Predators have a tribal dignity, a code of honor, and for that they are an evolved species and a perfect counterpoint for the Aliens.

It was genius bringing these creatures together – it seemed like such a perfect fit. If I’ve conveyed nothing else, my point is that you RESPECT these creatures – they have dignity about them. They are engaging. They are CHARACTERS, and (like any good villain) you want the hero to win but you also kind of root for the bad guy.

The Alien movies have always been more cerebral than the Predator films (if you even want to count Predator 2) but the genre was a good fit because they seem like they could live in the same universe. Their cultures are such great counterpoints — it makes sense that Predators would test their mettle against warriors (tribal serpents) like the Aliens. But they would respect their prey, where others might try to control them.

I’ve loved all these movies, even the less accomplished ones, for their respect of their villiains and the valor of their heroes, especially Ripley in the first three movies and Dutch in the first Predator film…

The first two alien movies had strong characters and were psychologically thrilling as well as action-packed horror movies. They were also genre-busters that innovated.

The third Alien film attempted a very interesting arc for the Ripley character and featured a strong supporting cast. It had a signature style, but was ultimately too bleak (and disrespectful of the previous film’s arc) to really be engaging. It’s especially hard to root for a hero that wants to die, and a supporting cast of evil people who probably deserve what’s coming to them. But it had merit, and after seeing the assembly cut (30 minutes longer) and having heard the story of its production, I have even more respect for it.

The fourth was a cluster fuck all around – putting gore above all else and suffering from stunt casting and a flawed script that desperately tried to resurrect (literally) the character of Ripley, when it probably should have started fresh. The most potentially interesting aspects (Ripley being half-alien, and an Alien being half-human) were poorly handled, coming off hokey instead of realistic. This movie was a big misfire to me, but it tried. At least they were still respecting the franchise enough to try using interesting directors.

As for Predator, the first film had a gritty realism that captured suspension of disbelief and set a great hero against an equally great villain. Predator 2 suffered from gore and an obnoxious attempt at satire (total Verhoven influence) but further expanded the Predator’s arsenal of weapons, his code of conduct — and a brief glimpse of his history with the ALIENS.

One prop master’s in-joke suddenly led to a flurry of inspired comic books and awesome PC games — telling stories of aliens and predators which ranged from brilliant to hokey. I never read comic books until I started picking up Dark Horse’s series of Aliens, Predator and AvP stories. It opened up a whole new medium to me, another reason I will always love this franchise. Many (not all) of the stories branched logically from the films. There was even a team-up between Ellen Ripley and Dutch, that I always dreamed would be a James Cameron-helmed project.

Cameron was even quoted as saying that he wanted to put Schwarzenegger in HIS version of Alien 4, which would have been a direct sequel to ALIENS that ignored Alien 3. Sadly, 20th Century Fox did not want to wait for him to take on the project. And, as with his version of Terminator 3, it was passed on in favor of hiring new writer/directors to make projected release dates. How very, very sad. Cameron also said that AvP would ruin the franchise. And I fear it has.

But let’s be clear – I enjoyed Aliens Vs. Predator.

The AvP movie may have lacked strong characterizations but it was decently acted by capable (if uninspired & uncharismatic) actors and it at least tried to please fans and newcomers alike by expanding on aspects of the films — predator culture, the weyland-yutani corporation, etc. It tried to give us a new atmosphere while still remaining in cramped quarters, and in my opinion made good use of a small budget.

I liked it. But then, I like Paul Anderson – I think he’s the polar opposite of Ewe Boll — he takes on franchises as a fanboy, he does a decent job at creating tension & atmosphere while handling effects, etc. He ain’t no master, not by a long shot—but he always gets the job done. He’s a solid B minus student.

The first AvP satisfied my lust for one thing – seeing aliens fight predators. And unlike most people, I really liked the Predator-human relationship, and the mutual respect earned between them. I also loved seeing the Queen running around in the snow like a T-Rex, but that’s also just me.

Finally, the story, while a stretch, actually made some sense to me. I thought it was a good way to mix Aliens, Predators and humans into a new environment. It was out of a comic book more than an epic movie, but it did not betray my suspension of disbelief.

SO THERE I WAS – FRONT ROW CENTER. AvP Requiem sported a decent trailer which promised the two races FINALLY coming to planet Earth. At last I was going to see Aliens scurrying along city streets and over cars. People running for their lives – total chaos. Their plague would spread, our civilization itself would be threatened, and all that would stand between us and extinction was a Predator (or Predators) with their own agenda.

Right off the bat, I loved that the sequel took place SECONDS after the first film. I was hoping they’d paste together into a fun epic. I was also glad that they used the PRED-ALIEN concept, which was done in the comic books. Great way to give us a “boss villain,” kinda like STRIPE in Gremlins or the Queen in Aliens — someone we could latch onto as the leader of the largely anonymous Alien horde.

My expectations were for something fun – nothing brilliant, like the first two films. At best, I expected something like Alien 4 or the first AvP movie. Thin story, thin characters, but fun.

What I did not expect was such a terribly empty experience – completely devoid of logic or the most basic elements of storytelling. Devoid of tension, devoid of horror. I’d seen fan films done with better execution (Batman: Dead End and Greyson come to mind).

I did not expect that 20th Century Fox would so disrespect these noble creatures that they would cast them as the foils in a teen slasher pic.

It was a betrayal of genre, a round peg jammed in a square hole. Someone confused AvP with Freddy Vs Jason and for that there can be no forgiveness (and we know I’m forgiving).

It was such a waste of potential that it could never hope to recover. And Paul Anderson’s capability as a B- director is only solidified by watching this fucking mess, a total D- job by two idiot brothers who confused Ridley Scott’s minimal use of monster shots with Emmerich/Bay’s penchant for blurry action.

The movie is geographically, emotionally and narratively confusing. You never know where you are, you never know why, and you never know what you are looking at. …Except when it’s not one but three shameless and silly glamour shots of a teenage girl’s ass.

Elements were in place from act one, but never realized. I’m quite sure we will eventually hear stories of half the film having been reshot, or rescripted, or possibly cut way down for time – which would explain so many brutal storytelling gaps. But even at it’s best the visual style was muddy, blurry and worst of all – made me feel like a bunch of actors in suits were running around. The Aliens have never seemed fake to me until now. Their jaws hanging open. Look at the picture on Eric’s post — it’s all right there.

As for details on the story – read Eric’s review. I agree with each and every one of his questions and comments. I heard this movie made decent box office and so I have hope that somehow they might attempt a sequel to one of these three franchises, but for now Fox has managed to finally beat a dead horse to death with a Predator’s spear. Shame on all involved.

So sad. These monsters deserve better.

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  1. cybergosh says:

    I cannot argue with anything you said.  I agree with it all.  BUT – when i read this it seemed like you experienced all of the emotions i went through three years ago.  When there was hope.  Hope that maybe, we’d finally have the kick-ass film we were forced to only dream about for so long.

    So, your review, in a sense, is a good demonstration of the power of expectations and how they play into each of our unique, subjective reactions to a film experience.

    See, I guess i was broken already.  I had no hope. 

    I knew going in this would be on par with Freddy Vs. Jason at best.  I was prepared to hate all humans and despise all lack of story. 

    And i was ok with this. 

    All i wanted was more AvP action.  Is this a good way to go into a film?  No.  As a matter of fact, i usually don’t enter a film these days with low expectations because, the NewMe (with recent upgrades) just does not see movies i don’t want to see (OldMe would have seen The Bucket List, for example). 

    Actually, NewMe almost saw Bucket List, too.  Until i was in the shower two days ago and tried to think of one good reason to spend my time ( i don’t care about the money – even though i’m broke i could always sneak in – money is never a factor in my decision making about such things – there’s always a way!

    Anyway!  Like i said – normally i go into a film expecting it to be good.  So AVPr was an exception for me – but not a film i could skip over like The Bucket List.  So, as i said – all i was looking for was a bit more fighting time between the two species – just a little more than Anderson gave us in the first round.

    So, not only did i get that, but i also got a glimpse of the Predators home world too, which was a nice surprise!  Not that it was a BIG deal.  But that one shot alone demonstrates how i would rate this above AvP.

    Again, to be CLEAR…this movie is terrible. 

    This is pathetic, sad, frustrating and disastrous.  These “Brother Strause” should be put into a cage to battle “The Wibberley’s” to the death.  And hopefully both kill each other.  This film’s only purpose is to kill a tiny piece of every fanboy and fangirl out there.  Dead.  It’s digesting that this even exists and a real shame. 

    However, bracing myself for this fact, i was able to enjoy it more than the first AvP.  I would never buy this on DVD or watch it again.  It goes in that category of sequels i pretend do not exist. 

    BUT!… and this is in all seriousness – i am not trying to instigate anything since i know how some of you feel – but honestly, it there was one of those “get a free DVD” offers on the back of a cereal box and i had only to choose from AvP, AVPr, T3, Batman Begins or Transformers – i would, without hesitation, choose AVPr to be my free DVD.