Alien Vs. Predator
2004, PG-13, 110 min. Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson. Starring Sanaa Lathan, Raoul Bova, Lance Henriksen, Ewen Bremner, Colin Salmon, Tommy Flanagan.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Aug. 20, 2004
Tall, dark, and icky meets shiny nappy people in this asinine grudge match between two of the most memorable Eighties-era screen bugaboos. "Whoever wins … we lose" goes the tag line, and rarely have truer words been said. Director Paul W.S. Anderson, of Mortal Combat and Resident Evil infamy, has been roundly hammered by the geek intelligentsia in the past for producing ham-handed horrors with all the character development of a funeral, and while AVP is unlikely to change any opinions, there are a few worthy twists that make the film bearable, but only just. Much has been made in the fan press of the PG-13 rating attached to Anderson’s film (it was apparently re-edited down from a hard R), and the film does indeed lack the sheer visceral brutality of either franchise’s previous outings. A dual prequel set within an ancient stone fortress deep beneath the Antarctic, AVP cobbles together a story line having something to do with a billionaire robotics mastermind (Henricksen, no less fine than usual despite the surroundings) who assembles a team of archeologists and explorers to uncover the reason for a mysterious heat signal emanating from the Pole. It should surprise no one over the age of three weeks that the humans – including Trainspotting’s pucker-faced Spud, Ewen Bremner, as a goofy rockhound – are onscreen to do little more than die (and rather unspectacularly at that) as the sheep-shearing-scissor-armed predators go on a hunt after breeding some alien spawn from a queen alien they keep on ice for just that reason. Apparently Richard Connell was wrong: Alien "serpents" are the most dangerous game, not those dopey humans, and the predators use the critters as a rite of passage, although to what we’re never told. Anderson’s film plays far too much like a big-screen video game, especially when the mysterious temple keeps changing its structure every ten minutes, but I suppose that’s to be expected since it is, after all, the director’s specialty. And there are a few nice flourishes here, notably the gigantism of the alien queen and the CGI effects work, which, for once, is virtually flawless. Nifty beasts do not a classic make, however, and by the end of the film, during which an unlikely and laughable alliance forms, you’re left wondering why Anderson couldn’t do something more original, or at least interesting, like, say, Alien vs. Super Mario or Predator vs. Banjo Kazooie, or even (my dream project) Alien vs. Predator Dance Dance Revolution Superfun All Out Shimmy Twist, because frankly, this space invaders stuff is, like, so 1981.