Monday, September 24, 2012

AvP: Alien vs. Predator

I have been looking forward to this film for over a decade now having read all the comic book incarnations of this title, played the video games and read a preliminary script that was written nearly 6 years ago that was totally bad ass and was scrapped due to budget constraints (the opening Alien hunt would have cost $50m alone). I also like Paul Anderson's films. Resident Evil and Mortal Kombat are some of my favorite movies. He has a style that I can sink my teeth into and he likes to tell entertaining stories even though they mostly skimp on character and plot.

It's too bad this movie is as disappointing as it is because it had a lot of potential. It takes too long getting to the meat of the film by wasting time introducing the majority of the one-dimensional characters and not even developing them in the slightest. There's way too much hokey dialogue, such as the “Hunter's Moon” bit and various overly sentimental parts involving talking about one of the character's faceless children. The acting at times is pretty damned atrocious. Only Sanaa Lathan looks like she's taking her job seriously while the rest look like they're there for a paycheck, including Lance Henriksen in a throwaway role.
There's also the re-imagining of the rules set by the two warring franchises. In the Alien films it looked like it took at least a day or more for a xenomorph to incubate inside a human. Here it takes less than ten minutes for a facehugger to implant a human and a chestburster to emerge. The Predators are also shown to not be able to defeat any kind of opposing force unless they have their laser cannons attached to their shoulders, thus making them appear to be pathetic hunters with some big ass knives attached to their wrists that do little good since they melt the moment they come into contact with alien blood.

However, I will admit that whenever a Predator takes on an Alien... DAYUM! The first fight which takes place halfway through the film is awesome (loved the acid flinging segment), as well as the predictable final confrontation and a couple of random maulings (that slicing the alien's head in half bit rocked) that really hit the spot. The aliens are flat out brutal here. In Aliens and Alien Resurrection the xenomorphs appear to be rather fragile when it comes to taking damage from guns and other means, but here they take a licking and keep on ticking; shrugging off multiple stab wounds, bullets, impalings and such. One alien in particular takes a heavy dose of damage and keeps fighting.
There are also nice little homages to the source material, being either a recreated shot to a line of dialogue or a clever visual reference (watch Lance Henriksen's hands at one point to see what I mean). Plus the film's last half includes ideas and scenarios from the original AvP comic series.

The main gripe I have though is with the PG-13 rating. The film feels like it was edited haphazardly to eliminate the nasty bits to make it more kid friendly. Even the music is cut off at certain points where an edit was made. We get plenty of Alien and Predator gore, but when it comes to the human violence it sucks major ass. We get cutaways and quick flashes that are blurred or obscured. Plus what could have been a great homage line to the original Predator is cut short by the hissing of a xenomorph. Lame. I'll wait until the uncut DVD shows up to make up my mind if I really dislike this movie or not.
Also, the movie feels rushed. When Paul Anderson was hired to write and direct the film it seemed like in a matter of less than a week he had a script that was approved. The film shows it in many spots. It flows nicely in the beginning, but as the film progresses it gets more jumbled and messy. It’s sloppy filmmaking. There's also so many hokey, cliched moments stolen from other movies. No one ever said Paul Anderson was an original guy, but here it's so obvious he's stolen parts from better films. The ending of the movie is ripped right out of Predator 2 for crying out loud so it's not going to surprise anyone to see what happens.

All in all, it's a fun little flick when something is actually happening in the way of Alien on Predator battles, but everything else is stale and lame. Plus the final shot is flat out dumb that does nothing but set up a sequel. I hope that one is better written than this film because I do look forward to seeing it.

1.5 out of 5

*written 8/13/04

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