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We don't go to see movies about dueling alien species for deep themes
and intricate character development, but a little sympathy would be
nice. I didn't feel any sympathy for the characters in 'Alien vs.
Predator' because they were all unlikable clichés: The Heroine, The
Hero, The Nerd, The Tomboy, The Gruff Leader, et al. These carbon cut
out characters we've seen in hundreds of other films are all assembled
together by Charles Bishop Weyland (Lance Henriksen) in 'AvP' to
venture into the Antarctic, where they uncover an ancient pyramid
recently discovered by Weyland's multi-million dollar satellites
hovering about in space.
The movie is based, of course, upon the iconic 'Alien' and 'Predator' films the rights to which are both owned by Fox Studios. The concept for the project originated with 'Predator 2' (1990), when a cop (played by Danny Glover) ventured into a Predator spaceship. There, in the 'trophy room,' was the distinct skull of an Alien.
This small in-joke reference (similar to that of Freddy Kruger's claw appearing in the 'Evil Dead' sequel) sparked a phenomenon of fans speculating as to the meaning behind the very brief big-screen insinuation. And due to strong requests, the two fictional species were finally united together for a string of comic books, videogames, novels and action figures in the early-'90s. By the year 2002, 'Alien vs. Predator' had become one of Fox's most profitable off-screen franchises. So, it was only reasonable to demand a film be made. By October 2003, production was underway, with sets in Prague being assembled.
And the film's director, Paul W. S. Anderson, has always excelled at set design. In 'Event Horizon' he perfectly captured the dark essence of the 'Alien' series; with 'Resident Evil' he managed to mimic the Gothic structure of all great zombie movies. But, to be honest, that's about it. He's never been any good at three other vital elements of film-making: story, characters and direction. 'Alien vs. Predator' - a project that took 14 astonishing years to bring to the big screen (longer than 'Freddy vs. Jason') - doesn't do much to change this.
Yes, his set design here is fantastic (it's no surprise that a great amount of pre-production work went into creating these enormous surroundings). The pyramid is buried deep within the wastelands of the Antarctic (2,000 feet, actually), which provides us with some great cinematography and stages.
The plot could have used extra work, though. After venturing deep into the pyramid, the team of scientists soon realizes that the pyramid is - surprise, surprise! - actually the home of an alien hive. And furthermore, a pack of teenaged Predators -- on an annual 'manhood' hunting ritual -- are there, too, and they begin to draw the humans into their fight, using them as bait.
The movie's cast is comprised of many newcomers and they are all unimpressive. Sanaa Lathan ('Out of Time'), as Alexa, the heroine, is rather annoying. Raoul Bova, playing the hero Sebastian, is the most likable of the characters, but even then, he's simply no Arnold.
Furthermore, the dialogue is completely lame. Sure, 'Predator' had lame dialogue too ('Knock, knock!') but at least it was funny and delivered with charisma. This movie unfortunately takes itself way too seriously. I've heard many people quote lines from 'Predator' over the years ('I ain't got time to bleed!' being a popular one). I can't imagine anyone ever *wanting* to quote dialogue from this film.
Even Henriksen seems like he's just in it for the paycheck. (His character, Charles 'Bishop' Weyland, is the billionaire who according to 'Alien' mythology -- creates the Bishop androids seen in 'Aliens' and 'Alien 3,' which are modeled after his own image.) Is it any coincidence that the only returning cast member from either series of films happens to be the same actor whose career has devolved into straight-to-video duds recently?
However, kudos must be handed to "'AvP's' creature effects artists (mainly Tom Woodruff, Jr.). I had expected lots of CGI, but there are also many close-ups of the Predators and Aliens played by thankless actors in suits (and some good IL'-fashioned animatronics). Kevin Peter Hall (the original Predator) passed away shortly after the release of the film's sequel, but Anderson has comprised an acceptable team of replacements (most of the actors being some seven feet tall!).
That, and the set design, and one or two OK action sequences, makes 'AvP' adequate for 'regular' cinema-goers expecting nothing more. If you're just looking for the average Saturday night blow-'em-up action flick, you could certainly do worse. But, for any true die-hard fans of the films, this movie continually disappoints and worst of all, due to its restrictive PG-13 rating, the fights (which take place all too often and rapidly become boring) are all over the place. We are not 'allowed' to see anything, which hinders the flow of the film. There was more violence than I had expected, but still not enough. (For the record, 'AvP' is the only film from either of the two series to ever receive an under-R rating.) After negative test screenings, Fox Studios decided to go against the will of the film's own director and brutally chop the movie apart so that it could fit into a more marketable age demographic. (So, the awkward flow in many of the sequences cannot be entirely contributed to Anderson's directing skills.) The day the official rating was released, fans across the world united online to protest it. I can't say I blame them.
I had personally been looking forward to seeing this movie for quite some time now, being a fan of both 'Alien' (1979) and 'Predator' (1987). Yet I tried to view 'AvP' unbiased, and judge it on its own terms, as a movie, and not particularly a sequel. It was a difficult task, but the truth of the matter is that the film as a stand-alone project is still not particularly enthralling. With its shameful rating, poor acting, awful writing and mediocre direction, 'AvP' disappoints the fans at every turn, and will probably leave non-fans feeling a little wishy-washy. Fox has taken two of their greatest franchises and turned them into a joke. 'AvP' is nothing more than typical action fare which, all considered, isn't much of a compliment at all.
Just watched it again yesterday - it's striking how good the action is
compared to the ridiculous dialogue. I completely understand why this
movie got such terrible reviews; after all, it marked the first "let's
make a quick buck" entry in the two beloved Alien and Predator
franchises and was done by a director who many felt didn't treat the
material with the respect it deserved. When I watched it yesterday I
got angry at times because some of the dialogue - well, most of it,
actually - is truly awful. It's hard to take characters or a story
seriously when nearly every sentence spoken resembles lines from a
parody of cheap science-fiction and horror movies from the fifties and
sixties. But despite all those flaws I have to admit I enjoyed the
movie from start to finish - because of the amazing set- and
creature-design and the more than decent action sequences and special
effects. Whoever designed those really scored and seems to have a great
love for the art of Giger and the previous films. So if you can get
past the silly characters and you're able to ignore the more obvious
shortcomings (like the idiotic decision to make the film PG-13) you're
in for a fun ride. My vote: 6.5 out of 10.
Favorite films: http://www.IMDb.com/list/mkjOKvqlSBs/
Lesser-known Masterpieces: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls070242495/
Favorite Low-Budget and B-Movies: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls054808375/
Favorite TV-Shows reviewed: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls075552387/
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Paul W. S. Anderson, the man who has directed previous travesties as
"Mortal Kombat" and "Resident Evil" doesn't fail to live up to his
standards which consist of a horrible script, cheesy "2 kewl 4 skool"
directing styles, weak cast, and every other weakness in a film you can
think of. The only person who rivals his ineptness is none other than
Uwe Boll. He has already ruined other franchises with his previous
films, and now by directing and writing Alien vs. Predator, he has
managed to ruin two movie series at the same time.
The story of this film is bay far the weakest aspect of this derision of a movie. All the previous Alien/Predator films had simple plots with good dialogue. Just simply there was a monster trying to kill the good guys, and they had to survive it. The stories were so uncomplicated yet incredibly well written that the viewer could not possibly complain that the story was bad. Alien vs. Predator however attempts to be a big, complex story with deep meaning to it, but it just comes off as being stupid and try hard. Paul, a complex story is good, only if you know how to write that is.
It's about a pyramid that is discovered on Earth in Antarctica. It turns out that this pyramid was part of the first human civilisation ever, that the Predators built it for the humans long ago, and in return, the humans worshiped the Predators as gods and acted as hosts for the captive alien Queens eggs that are in the pyramid, to make Aliens for the predators to hunt, not for sport like in the previous Predator films, but to prove that they are men. When modern day people go to investigate this pyramid, they become the new hosts for the Aliens that they Predators are going to hunt.
Not only is this completely unbelievable, (a pyramid in Antarctica? Come on) but it totally contradicts the previous Alien and Predator movies. In each Alien movie the point of the film was, "Don't let the Aliens get to Earth or they will kill everything!" Yet in this movie it was like, "Oh the Aliens have been on Earth the entire time and it wasn't really that bad now that we think about it." The previous Predator films are contradicted as well because the Predators are portrayed as creatures who are noble warriors, who actually respect humans and will help them if need be, rather than the ruthless merciless hunters who killed for sport and would kill a human just out of spite if he looked at him funny. Having Predators help humans build societies contradicts their nature, and takes away the mysteriousness and awesomeness of the Predator character.
But the thing is even as a stand alone film it's a very weak story. It can be compared to the later Jaws movies where you saw too much of the shark. Both extraterrestrial species are too in your face and have no mystery; leaving them just look like guys in rubber suits running around punching each other. Human characters have so little character development that often you don't even get to learn their names before they are killed, and so much more makes you feel like the script was made from a tipped over box of alphabet cereal.
Here's a perfect example of how bad the dialogue is in AVP.
FemaleTechnician: What is it?
Male Technician: It's a data stream from PS12.
Female Technician: Where is she?
Male Technician: Right above sector 14.
Female Technician: There isn't anything in sector 14.
Male Technician: The is now.
It is obvious in that piece of dialogue that Paul W. S. Anderson doesn't know anything about mapping or geography. Look moron, there is no such thing as this elusive "sector 14", things are mapped using latitude and longitude, bearings and such. Secondly for this Female Technician to have said on the spot, "There's nothing in sector 14" implies that she has memorised the presumably thousands of sectors all over the world and what is in each and every one of them so she can recall instantly off the top of her head that the isn't anything in sector 14. This is just one example of how cheesy and full of holes the very dialogue in Alien vs. Predator can be.
It is clear that a movie this bad was made only for the action, not the story. The thing is, in this whole move THERE ARE ONLY TWO FIGHT SCENES! If you are going to make a movie that has no good script which is only about the action, put in a decent amount of fighting at least!
AND THE PG-13 RATING?! Every other Alien/Predator film released before this one had and R rating. This film has been dumbed down for kids so much, that about 95% of the movies deaths or other injuries were off screen. You would see an Alien just getting near a guy before the camera would cut away, leaving you thinking, "So not only do we have no story but we have no gore?! I want my money back!" The line "You are one ugly mother fer" which is the trademark line of each other Predator film had the last word of it not filmed to keep the low rating! Yet earlier in the film they said, "I hope it kills every fing one of them!". Why did they decide to put the F word in earlier when it wasn't necessary, yet cut it out later when it was?! If they had of just shifted the F word to the ugly mother part then there could have been just as many F words yet still kept the trademark line!
It's a POS movie. The 1000 word limit has stopped me from going on.
Most people going into this film want to see one thing: Aliens and
Predators rip into each other. I suspect a great many geeks and lame
individuals inhabiting message boards of every corner of the internet
will complain that this film spends too much time with the humans when
the name of the film is 'Alien versus Predator' and they couldn't care
about the humans, and another sect will whine about how shallow the
film is to jump right to the big fight as soon as it can possibly set
The nice thing about the Freddy vs Jason premise is the fact that most of the Elm Street films and none of the Friday the 13th films had any substance to them, so throwing the two juggernauts into a battle rumble with each other with a side of useless characters and uninspired plot shouldn't have phased anyone but the most deluded of fans. I really liked FvsJ more so than all but the Craven-driven Elm Streets and the all the F13s.
Alien vs Predator is quite a bit different since I love Ridley Scott's Alien and James Cameron's Aliens, and though I don't hold Predator 1 & 2 on the same level, I'm still pretty fond of the original Predator film (been too long since I've seen Predator 2). The Alien series (and to a much lesser extent, the Predator series too) has always been about depth . . . so to just throw the two monsters at each other and let them rip into each other really does not do them any justice and strips away what makes their films so good to begin with.
So . . . AVP takes a middle path. It attempts to build up the characters to an extent, it attempts to give a valid reason for both the Aliens and Predators to be in the same location, and it attempts to do it as quickly as it can. How well does it succeed? I found myself wishing it would either slow down more or pick up the pace.
I'm very pleased to see the stylish Paul Anderson lead this tangled and difficult project. His nods to the original films, in jokes, and slower paced setup were much appreciated from me. Ninety minutes of guys in rubber suits cut with CG monsters fighting constantly just will not cut it. I felt Anderson rushed the setup (or the studio rushed him); but part of me did grow bored of the characters rather quickly, and I did want to see the Alien and Predators get together sooner than they did.
The lingering time between bouts did create more tension and anticipation for the coming fights, which I admired, and when the beasts finally sank claws and teeth into one another I found myself more or less satisfied. At first I felt somewhat let down by how seemingly easily a few Predators went down; however, then I remembered these things were fighting Aliens with bare fists and blades when Space Marines were getting slaughtered with state of the art artillery.
A classless director would have started with a bang, ended with a bang, and had a boring parade of bangs. When I want meaningless, yet entertaining, bangs I buy firecrackers and save myself both time and money. Paul Anderson strived for something more, and pretty much came through. While I did like the film and the idea of Aliens and Predators fighting it out, I couldn't help but compare it to the superior films that inspired it. As fun as AVP is, and as much as I like Paul Anderson . . . he is not Ridley Scott and this is not Alien.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
So there is this book out there, by a wonderful writer named Stephen
Perry. He wrote and Alien vs. Predator book years ago. I loved the
book. I loved it, and obviously lots of other people did too because it
was turned into a large graphic novel.
So what does this have to do with the movie? It's the same awesome story! Sure there are differences, but basically, it's the same story about clan respect and the thrill of the hunt.
This one has a group of three "preteen" predators out on their trip to man hood, a group of would-be scientists, and a group of "freezer burnt" aliens.
The hunt commences, and action ensues!
As for the spoilers - here they are. The predator/human relationship. How many people thought it was supposed to be some kind of stupid love story! IT WASN'T! In the book, this was explained a little better I think, and would be a lot easier for others to understand. It's a show of respect. He accepts her as a predator because she kills an alien. In the book - the predator she saves was originally one of the high ranking predators. He's ended up on his own, and the girl saves his life. In show of mutual clan respect, the Predator marks her, and they go on fighting "the good fight" so to speak.
either way - loved the movie. If you hated it, give me your extra tickets and I'll go see it again!
I went into this expecting a horrible movie. From all the reviews that
I read I thought it would be HORRIBLE! I've seen many, many worse
movies than this.
A previous comment stated the movie went a bit too fast in explaining things and developing the characters. While I can certainly agree on the former, the latter, well, you just know most of the people are going to get wasted so character development isn't that necessary. We came to see Predators hunt and fight with Aliens.
One thing I didn't like was the movie showed the Aliens more powerful than the Predators. I believe the canon shows the Predators are much more powerful than the Aliens. Regardless, I liked this movie.
This movie surprised me because there were many things I didn't expect. Were some scenes over the top? Absolutely, but this is Hollywood and we're talking Aliens V Predator here :) IF you are a fan of these genres you really should give this movie a chance.
Reading some of the harsh reviews I thought I would comment. The big disappointment for me in the movie was the lack of gore , fox did get it wrong to make it a pg13 even though they tried to substitute it with monster gore. All that being said this movie is a visual master-peace, the effects are top notch with very good fight scenes and creature effects with the best looking Alien Queen to hit the screens, The story is pretty cool and it gives more insight of the Predators, It takes a while for the introduction of the creatures but once the ball is rolling its none stop action. Not the horror feast we all wanted but fun.
A team assembled by a billionaire investigate a heat signal that
reveals a pyramid below the surface of a whaling station in Antarctic.
However, the pyramid is a hunting ground for Predators who kill Aliens
as a rite of passage and the team find themselves caught in the middle
of their hunt.
It shouldn't have been mixed, Paul W.S. Anderson's AVP: Alien vs. Predator was more so unjustly panned by critics and fans due to the hype and anticipation. It has the feeling of an Alien film, a great premise, good cinematography, some amazing effects and a fine score.
Paul W.S. Anderson is successful in bringing the franchises together, respecting ideas from both Alien and Predator movies. I haven't seen a bad film that he's made and I'm not sure why there is such a geek gang hatred against the mans work. The ever-improving Uwe Boll he is not! The strong leads include Sanaa Lathan as the heroine and Raoul Bova. However, unfortunately actors Carsten Norgaard as Rusten Quinn and Tommy Flanagan as Mark Verheiden disappear far too early. Overall the acting is good, Lance Henrikson shows up as the 'real' Bishop but some of the characters lack development and the editing feels choppy in places.
The Predators and Aliens look great apart from some badly executed CGI. It not Ridley Scott or John McTiernan, but Paul Anderson pulls off the almost impossible task of putting these to aliens together on screen.
If there was not an Alien or Predator film prior to this it may have been haled as a science fiction adventure classic, but alas that's not the case.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If you give a toss about the story, stop reading. But believe me, this
comment couldn't possibly ruin the film for you any more than Fox has.
Spare a thought for Paul Anderson as he struggles to make a film that
hasn't been neutered by the MPAA or a cowardly studio. Once Paul
Verhoeven left America to resume his stellar work in Europe, I guess
the MPAA had to have someone to pound upon. After moronic parents who
took their single-digit-age children to see Resident Evil complained, I
guess it was inevitable that future Anderson projects face an even
bigger butcher's knife.
But I am getting ahead of myself here. There are two things that made the Alien and Predator franchises work. The first was human interaction. In essence, the films were about humans trying to screw each other over for power, with the titular enemy there to deliver the consequences of not working together. A non-subtle and somewhat shallow social statement, in other words. Then there's the gore factor. Once the human drama is set up, who cannot help but feel for the survivors as a marine's face is melted by Alien blood, or when a train full of commuters are torn to pieces by a Predator who doesn't fully understand what is going on around him?
AVP tries to set up the former factor with Lance Henriksen's character anxious to find the strange artefact under the polar cap before he dies. Unfortunately, where Aliens in particular excelled was that it managed to give every character a third dimension. Here, only Henriksen's character gets such effort. So every act of violence or mayhem is given a feeling of absolutely no consequence. It's almost like a video game.
Paul Anderson is on record as saying that he made the film with every intention of it being screened with the MPAA's R rating. Apparently, Fox, fearing it will alienate children, decided otherwise. Never mind that the audience which kept both franchises in the black are now either in their mid-twenties or middle-aged. Forget creativity or making something that people might enjoy. The lowest common denominator rules here. Those parents who complained when the studio didn't accommodate them because they were too stupid to realize a film based on a video game which is in turn based on Night Of The Living Dead might not be a good babysitter, I hope you are proud of yourselves. Meanwhile, if any studio wants to let Anderson make a film without tying his hands over his audience's eyes, I will gladly pay to see it multiple times. Trust me, you will make more money this way once backlash is accounted for.
AVP also marks the first Anderson film I have seen in which the shaky-cam technique is used. Here, they don't even bother to try and make their excuse that it puts the audience more into the action seem plausible. Every shaky-cam frame might as well have the phrase "we are shaking this camera to preserve our PG-13 rating" stamped across it in big, bold letters.
You may have noticed that I haven't said anything about the actual characters yet, apart from mentioning Lance Henriksen by his own name rather than that of the character. There is a reason for this. If a group of film characters became any more generic, they could all be played by the same actor. The Aliens and Predators do not fare any better. Seriously, why on Earth didn't they just base the script upon the first comic book series? These comic books showed more for the audience to get interested in with one issue than this film shows in its entire running length.
The story also shows every conceivable sign of not being thought through. The humans discover an alien temple a couple of thousand feet below the surface of a polar cap. Great, but wouldn't that mean it is basically submerged in the ocean? So when the intrepid humans decide to go and check it out, the Predators oblige them by firing a beam from Earth's orbit into said polar cap, tunneling the thousands of feet needed to find the entrance. I guess the budget cuts at NASA meant that nobody could notice the massive hulking ship above the Earth. I'm also guessing that Alien blood and armour made from Alien parts gives one special powers, such as the ability to stand below a spacecraft as it takes off without being burned by the thrust. Or did they just not see Danny Glover's race to get away from the Predators' ship at the end of Predator 2?
In short, this film insults the fans of both franchises, sci-fi action fans in general, as well as the basic principle of adults being able to watch and hear what they choose to. I strongly urge the viewing, DVD-buying public to give this film the butt, lest more be made in this kindergarten-oriented fashion. Fox, you ought to be ashamed of yourselves.
The idea of crossing over two popular stories really can work if in the
right hands. It's been done before, like in some of Universal's monster
movies, which were successful. Other cases like 'King King vs.
Godzilla' and 'Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys' didn't fare nearly as
well. This is a difficult task because you're trying please fans of
both series and characters. One of the most talked about of these is
'Alien vs. Predator,' which started as a successful comic book series
that lead to a series of video games that also have done well.
Naturally talks of a feature film based on this idea were happening and
rightfully so. Both 'Alien' and 'Predator' franchises achieved great
success, which also helped in getting the project off the ground. And
who'd they hired to do the job? 'Mortal Kombat' and 'Resident Evil'
director Paul Anderson, someone a lot of fans didn't want to see do it.
However, Anderson did show a lot of enthusiasm and both the pictures
and previews for the film looked promising. This was a dynamite idea
that needed the right people involved, and was that what happened?
Pros: Visually stunning. Cinematography is crisp and pleasing to the eyes. Fantastic production design. Great special effects. A decent score. Performances are solid. Moves at a good pace, especially after the first half hour. Amazing direction by Anderson, but maybe he should have let someone else write this. Plenty of action-packed sequences.
Cons: A lot of disposable characters we could care less about. It's not so much that the script is badly written, it's just not a very good one. Not too much will stay with you when this over, so the film is ultimately forgettable. Lacks the smarts and suspense of the 'Alien' series. The action scenes come and go too quickly.
Final thoughts: This was one of the most anticipated movies of the last couple decades and though it made a nice chunk of money a lot of people were letdown. It's certainly not up to the standards to either of the franchises it's spinning off from, but overall it's pretty good for what it is. So was Anderson the wrong person for this? In terms of directing I'd say he does a fine job there, but again he really should have let someone else tackle the script. Maybe then we would have gotten the AVP film we've been waiting for. Oh well, it could have been much worse.
My rating: 3.5/5
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