"Alien vs. Predator"
Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson.
Written by Paul W.S. Anderson.
Starring Sanaa Lathan, Raoul Bova and Lance Henriksen.
Release Year: 2004
Review Date: 8/12/04
I loved "Alien." I loved "Predator."
On paper, the idea of pitting the Alien vs. the Predator is genius,
I have heard good things about the comic
series inspired by the war between the two movie characters, but
when the movie was announced, I was very skeptical. What would
the human element be that keeps the properties together? The
thing that makes the movies "Alien" (and its superior sequel
"Aliens") and "Predator" so strong is the human element in these
pictures; the camaraderie in "Aliens", especially, drives the
action/horror to its limit and gives us a very satisfying film.
With this in mind, I was wondering how the filmmakers would
introduce a connection to why we even care that predators and aliens
are duking it out on planet Earth.
In "Alien vs. Predator", a scientific
expedition led by Charles Weyland (Lance Henriksen) to a distant
point in Antarctica brings everyone involved close to big trouble:
it seems that an underground pyramid is being used for a hunting
ground by these strange, camouflaged super warriors that look a lot
like the things that Schwarzenegger fought against in 1987.
The humans also realize that this pyramid is a hive of sorts for the
exact same bastards that Sigourney Weaver fought off of her
ship in...well, some future time hundreds of years from now.
Shit's gonna get hectic!
The humans, who are led on their expedition
by the world's top arctic guide, Alexa Woods (Sanaa Lathan, "Love
and Basketball"), seem to realize just a bit too late that they are
in over their heads, but for the audience, we know right away that
nearly all of these folks are going to get it bad. Director
Paul W.S. Anderson (still hasn't made a great film, but he knows
kills, as evidenced by "Event Horizon" and "Resident Evil") does set
up the film well even if his script is Pinocchio-wooden in the early
going. For a PG-13, this feels like a good mix of action and
horror; there are a few times where the music is removed to make
things extra-tense, so don't take your squeamish girlfriend to this
"Alien vs. Predator" seems to know that it
can't take itself too seriously, so we get a couple of great
in-jokes (easy ones if you've seen "Aliens") as well as little
nuanced things like the similarity of some of the kills to past
movies. In fact, I was probably the only guy in the theater
howling when Colin Salmon gets it; he dies in roughly the same
fashion he was killed off in "Resident Evil", and I was loving that
Anderson made the kills so similar. Also, there are some great
bad cheese moments at the end...but, I don't want to give that away
if you plan on seeing this thing.
The no-name cast gets the job done, and they
do their job of dying off quickly and not getting in the way of a
good time. The effects work is solid, and because so much of
"Alien vs. Predator" takes place in the dark, it masks a lot of the
things that would have been tough to do had the film taken place in
an urban environment, instead of an underground ice fortress.
Pacing makes the film fly by, and Lathan does the heroine bit quite
capably if a bit understated.
But, all of these things don't change the
fact that I saw this for free, thanks to my friend Tricia, and on
the way home even I had to admit to myself: "Alien vs.
Predator" is not a very good movie. It does a lot of the
summer blockbuster things well, in terms of entertaining a packed
house. But, will you ever want to see it again? No.
I don't think that fans of the comic series or of the past movies
will feel like the experience was THAT gratifying; the violence
isn't as violent as it was in any of the previous films ("Predator
2" was bad, but at least you got the visceral piece of it), so you
feel cheated, like the studio put on the kid gloves to give you a
piece of entertainment. The first 15 minutes of this flick had
people in my audience visibly agitated; it starts off bad, and it
even stoops to those pandering shots of a team of highly trained
experts gathered to complete "one last mission" even though you know
that none of these "experts" has a shot in hell of making it out
alive. After a while, there aren't that many humans left to
even pass the time with bad dialogue, so the human connection in
"Alien vs. Predator" is much worse than in any of the other flicks.
If you can see this for $6 on a big screen,
do it. You'll laugh and you'll enjoy the effects work.
If you can't see this for $6 on a big screen, don't see it at all;
on a regular ol' TV at home, "Alien vs. Predator" will fall flat on
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard