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review: Alien Vs. Predator

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Take two well-known sci-fi franchises and merge them into a film in such a way that you can be assured of a huge audience, but also, that the sum is greater than the parts. Or as great. This film isn’t it. Alien Vs. Predator is a cold, calculated “product” that is too contrived and formulaic to provide much intrigue or entertainment value. And the most amount of suspense is provided courtesy of a penguin.

A corporate satellite, searching for evidence of natural resources, detects a significant amount of heat coming from an island in Antarctica. The billionaire head of the company quickly hobbles together an expedition team to investigate what appears to be a pyramid with Aztec, Egyptian and Cambodian traits, located 2000 feet below the surface.

The pyramid contains walls and floors that shift every ten minutes and hieroglyphics that are interpreted by one of the crew, to give them some sense of what they have found. The maze provides so much overkill that an Indiana Jones or Tomb Raider fan would blush. The humans get into the maze, the face huggers do their thing and you have a nice population of Aliens for the Predators to hunt.

It takes one human to “birth” an Alien, so why are there so many Aliens in the place? The gestation period took hours in the first Alien film, but here they seem to pop out with greater frequency. The dialogue appears to be written by a 6th-grader. There are no outstanding characters in the film, like a Ripley from the Alien series, although they try to create one in “Lex” Woods, played by Sanaa Lathan. There’s virtually no character development, so when they get killed, you don’t feel anything. Lance Henriksen plays the billionaire. In one scene, he briefly does the “knife” trick from the Aliens film, where he played a “synthetic human.”

This film is an empty-calorie spectacle that doesn’t satisfy, yet it promises too much potential for fans of either series to pass up. At least we find out who taught humans how to build pyramids.

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About Triniman

Almost weekly, Triniman catches new movies, and adds one or two CDs to his collection. Due to time constraints, he blogs about only 5% of the CDs, books and DVDs that he purchases. Holed up in the geographic centre of North America, the cultural mecca of Canada, and the sunniest city north of the 49th, Winnipeg, Triniman blogs a bit when he's not swatting mosquitoes, shoveling snow or golfing.
  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    The trailer I saw in the theater (while waiting for (I, Robot to begin) made this flick look pretty damn awesome.

    Was it disappointing enough that I should wait for it to be released on DVD before I see it? Or is it worth a $5.50 student-rate ticket to see it in the theater and get the full-effect?

  • http://www.thebeautifullull.com Tom Johnson

    RJ, I just got back from seeing it, and I’d say unless you’re a die-hard fan of either or both franchises, wait for a surely-expanded DVD release. Really, the best word I can think to sum it up is “dumb.” Maybe I’ll develop a full review myself, being a pretty devoted fan of the Alien half of this matchup.

  • http://www.mondoirlando.com Aaron, Duke De Mondo

    shit, man, i was really hoping this could prove me wrong, but you folks are just adding to the niggling sense of impending catastrophe. Still, the predators look well cool.

  • Mark Desmet

    SPOILER ALERT
    So when the pyramid wakes up and the display reflects off the predator helmets in the ship–ala the opening of Alien–you didn’t get the impression that without the PG13 marketing yoke this film would have been better? Strong female heroine, actually communicates with Predator, earns respect and welcomes the mark of a warrior on her face?
    Come on. Alien forever changed aliens, we will never get that rush again–but the director loved making this, shunned (for the most part) CG, and gave homage to all the previous films.
    See it on the big screen, hope the Dvd is unrated and remember: this is a science fiction/horror film, not War and Peace!

  • http://www.makeyougohmm.com/ TDavid

    For a horror/sci-fi flick — where the bar should automatically be lower anyway — I liked this movie.

    No, it wasn’t great or even really good, but it wasn’t absolutely terrible either. It wasn’t Jason X which might be the worse sci-fi/horror movie ever made and if you compare it against trash like that, AVP should be up for awards. It was worth matinee prices, RJ, if you liked either of these franchises (Alien or Predator) to echo what Tom Johnson said above.

    I missed the presence of any love story or gratuitous nudity. Every horror flick should have that otherwise it just becomes you typical fare action movie. The Predator should have shredded the woman’s clothes and given viewers at least a hint of skin.

    With that said, I agree with pretty much everything else in this review, Triniman, as far as the acting and characterization goes.

    Well done!

  • http://www.mondoirlando.com Aaron, Duke De Mondo

    Aw, come now TD. Jason X was a wonderful slab of daft hokum. David Cronenberg getting killed in the first 5 minutes! genius!