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Movies   -   Alien vs Predator

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   Alien vs Predator



Title:
Year:
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Alien vs Predator
2004
Paul W.S. Anderson
Paul Anderson, Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett
USA
101 minutes
The Plot

During an expedition in Antartica, Charles Bishop Weylands team of archaeologists and other scientists find themselves caught up in an underground battle between aliens and predators.
The Cast

Alexa Woods
Sebastian De Rosa
Charles Bishop Weyland
Graeme Miller
Maxwell Stafford
Mark Verheiden
Joe Connors
Adele Rosseau
Rusten Quinn
Thomas Parks
Sanaa Lathan
Raoul Bova
Lance Henriksen
Ewen Bremner
Colin Salmon
Tommy Flanagan
Joseph Rye
Agathe De La Boulaye
Carsten Norgaard
Sam Troughton
AvP Freaks Review by SiL

Throughout the Alien franchise, each movie has been a different genre, or had a distinct feel of its own.

Alien was a horror movie.
Aliens was an action movie.
Alien3 was a drama movie.
Alien Resurrection was a video game movie.

Alien Vs. Predator could best be described as a comic book movie. Not just because the comic book series started the idea of throwing the two monsters together, but because its execution seems better fitted to that particular medium.

The idea is fairly sound. A pyramid is discovered under Antarctica, and a team of scientists is assembled to investigate. The pyramid was constructed by Predators, and every hundred years they use it to hunt Aliens to prove themselves as men. This just so happens to be one of those hundred years.

Potential is abundant. This could be scary, tense, but also filled with exciting action sequences. Finally we’d be able to see the creatures duke it out, mano-a-mano, to see who would arrive victorious. Like Alien before it, this could also be a movie which goes against genre stereotypes and becomes a really good movie in its own right.

Unfortunately the reality is somewhat more anticlimactic. It plays out like you would expect it to, like a paint-by-numbers crash-course in filmmaking. This is not necessarily a bad thing – Look at Predator. It is, from beginning to end, a 80s action movie and does everything you’d expect, but it’s executed very well – as there’s always room for improvement, but not here. One can count off all the beats the movie has laid out to hit, like a repetitive bass rhythm.

Anderson, clearly inspired by the first three movies – Alien, Aliens, Predator – takes his time getting to the monsters in an attempt to increase tension and establish characters and relationships so we’ll care when people die. It’s time wasted, and a lot of time at that. Try as he might, we simply don’t care. While neither preceding franchise was built on deep, complex characters, we still cared about the greater majority of them. The commandos in Predator are largely static and unchanging, yet they still elicit our sympathy because they were well established and well written. A few vaguely memorable faces speckle the cast, but they’re simply poorly written characters.

It doesn’t help, either, that we’re always a step ahead. The characters remain oblivious about what’s going on around them until the creatures are in their faces: By this point, the audience has known about them for over half an hour. We’ve seen them preparing, moving around, doing things behind the character’s backs. Still they don’t know, still they remain oblivious, and they look stupid. An argument could be made that we would always be a step ahead, given that this is a sequel, but with some creative writing we could at least be less ahead than we are.

The movie has a fast pace, carrying us nicely throughout the first half, but come the second everything is rushed. With an 85 minute runtime, it really can’t spare the fifty or so just spent getting the creatures into the same frame. When two Predators are killed within the space of five minutes, there’s not so much a sense of victory for the Alien fans as a sense of being horrifically cheated out of some good fights for the sake of getting a move on. Where many movies could almost always do with a slightly shortened runtime, AvP feels like it should keep going for at least another half-hour.

One thing the movie excels at is magnificent production design and beautiful cinematography. Inside the pyramid is meticulously detailed, full of bas-relief sculptures and hieroglyphics; tiny details many take for granted, but which add to the atmosphere. It’s shot darkly for the most part, with smooth colours and deep shadows. Darkly lit cinematography, however, artistic as it may turn out, doesn’t compensate for good writing. Dark, yes, but not scary.

Viewing it as an excuse for popcorn, a way to waste time, it does have its merits. It looks pretty, it moves along nicely. There are a few fight scenes, and some nifty set pieces to entertain.

As an Alien film, it falls flat. There’s none of the creeping dread, none of the tension, none of the horror.

As a Predator movie it fails to deliver, because it’s clear Anderson is attempting an Alien movie. The heart-pounding action, excitement, gore, one liners – All absent.

Overall it's the definition of a good idea gone bad. It takes two great franchises and pits them together in one easy sitting, but does it exactly the wrong way. There's no wonder, no excitement, no scares, no empathetic characters; It's childish and trite, vainly attempting to plug its holes with homages and clichés and hollow grandeur.

And if this is what an AvP movie is to be like, then let’s just call it quits here.


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