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3 items from 2004

Alien vs. Predator

9 September 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Alien vs. Predator combines two of Fox's best-known science fiction titles, but let's give an assist to a third, non-Fox title. That would be The Mummy. To bring together those Alien dudes, who prefer deep space, with Predator, invisible hunters that prefer the jungles and inner cities of Earth, British sci-fi director Paul W.S. Anderson places the action inside a pyramid. The pyramid is, bewilderingly, buried under Antarctic ice -- why would it be there? -- but once inside, "AVP" bears greater kinship to movies involving Egyptian corpses, Indiana Jones and Lara Croft.

Fox can count on young males to give the film above-average grosses and no doubt boost DVD sales of the six previous Alien and Predator movies. But asking "AVP" to reignite interest in more sequels involving these alien monsters, either together or apart, may be asking too much.

Back in 1979, Alien was a breakthrough science fiction work. Its artistic look and strategies for frightening audiences were downright revolutionary. But in this, the fifth outing for the slime-dripping, shape-changing creatures, the Aliens are looking a little dogged, perhaps ready for the Alien Retirement Home. Meanwhile, the Predator warriors, who never achieved the artistic heights of their counterpart, look better invisible. When visible, they resemble robotic can openers gone berserk.

Anderson, who wrote the script from a screen story by Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett and himself, finds a replacement for Sigourney Weaver's Ripley, the principal hero of the Alien films. The new heroine is Alexa "Lex" Woods, played with straightforward intensity by Sanaa Lathan. She leads a hastily assembled expedition down to the ancient pyramid underneath all that ice, a group thrown together by billionaire industrialist Charles Bishop Weyland (Lance Henriksen).

Sebastian (Italian actor Raoul Bova), a guy who can miraculously read the ancient hieroglyphics that don't belong to any particular culture, is the first to puzzle out the expedition party's dilemma. It seems they have stumbled into a war between two alien races that has been going on for thousands of years.

It goes something like this: Predators like to hunt, and they especially like to hunt Aliens. Every hundred years, an Alien Queen, kept captive in the ice pyramid, lays hundreds of eggs. The Predators have lured the humans down to her lair to play their role as incubators to the offspring. Once they hatch, the Predator warriors will have a great time hunting and killing Aliens.

No, this is not a very smart premise, but how else to bring the two franchises together?

Shot in Prague and at a fairly modest price for a sci-fi monster film, "AVP" benefits from a stellar crew behind the camera. The most inventive thing is the set design by Richard Bridgland. The pyramid is a dark, diabolical maze that reconfigures itself every 10 minutes. This causes blocks of the floor, ceiling and walls to move this way and that, separating characters and trapping them in new and more frightening cubicle and passages.

The creatures, on the other hand, have grown too familiar. Whatever improvements the new designers, Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr., have made to H.R. Giger's original Alien design or Stan Winston's Predator creations, the boo factor is definitely missing.


20th Century Fox

A Davis Entertainment Co./Brandywine production


Screenwriter-director: Paul W.S. Anderson

Screen story: Paul W.S. Anderson, Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett

Producers: John Davis, David Giler, Walter Hill

Executive producers: Wyck Godfrey, Thomas M. Hammel, Mike Richardson

Director of photography: David Johnson

Production designer: Richard Bridgland

Music: Harald Kloser

Co-producer: Chris Symes

Costume designer: Magali Guidasci

Visual effects supervisor: John Bruno

Editor: Alexander Berner


Alexa Woods: Sanaa Lathan

Sebastian De Rosa: Raoul Bova

Charles Bishop Weyland: Lance Henriksen

Graeme Miller: Ewen Bremmer

Maxwell Stafford: Colin Salmon

MPAA rating: PG-13

Running time -- 110 minutes »

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Shusett, Alter on trip to 'Megacity'

11 August 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

With Alien vs. Predator about to be unleashed in theaters, Ronald Shusett, co-creator of the Alien series, is tackling another sci-fi/horror project. Shusett, who also was a producer and writer on Total Recall, has teamed with comic book specialist Daniel Alter to option feature rights to the new title Megacity. A potential franchise vehicle, Megacity is to be published by Devil's Due via an arrangement with the Korean entity Studio Ice. Alter discovered the property at the recent Comic-Con convention. Set in the not-too-distant future, the series follows the exploits of an elite team of soldiers called Phobia, whose job is to stop psychic parasites known as pulses from possessing innocent people and turning them into monsters. "It's basically Aliens meets Minority Report. Who better to do this with than Ron?" said Alter, who also is working with Shusett on the previously announced 2176 and the Image Comics series Industry of War. The duo will produce through their respective companies, Ronald Shusett Prods. and Alter Ego Entertainment. »

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Duo ink deal for comic 'Industry'

20 July 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

In a pre-emptive bid, writer-producer Ronald Shusett and Daniel Alter have teamed up to option the feature film rights to Jordan Raskin's Industry of War, an Image Comics series that debuts in September. The book is about undercover government agents who hunt down missing military technology before it falls into the wrong hands. The story revolves around a former gang member and recent parolee who accidentally stumbles across the latest weapon on the agents' retrieval list: a bio-symbiotic prototype suit designed for foot soldiers and programmed for an assassination mission during the 1991 Gulf War. »

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