Monsters gone soft
Alien Vs. Predator
Comic-book fans began to clamor for an Alien Vs. Predator movie years ago, and I began to cringe. The two movie monster baddies have been facing off in graphic novels and lousy video games, and somewhere along the line, somebody gave a movie the go-ahead. After the success of Freddy Vs. Jason, the moneymaking possibilities were justified beyond a bunch of comic-book connoisseurs screaming for a movie.
When a first draft of the movie’s script leaked, those same fans begging for a movie began to cry foul, and things got worse when director Paul W.S. Anderson was handed the project. Anderson took a lot of flak for his Resident Evil (which I liked) and Soldier (which I hated), with his best film generally thought to be the uneven Event Horizon. Alien and Predator fans have long felt that the two extremely important genre franchises should not be handed over to a mediocre-at-best director.
The fans were right. Anderson totally screws up with this misguided, sloppy movie that shames both franchises in the end. Anderson takes all sorts of liberties with Alien and Predator lore. For instance, the incubation period for an Alien chest-burster baby has been cut down to mere minutes to keep things moving along. Victims no longer suffer for days due to Anderson’s impatience. Now it’s a relatively quick, yet still quite unfortunate, process.
The plot is pretty screwy, and it would have to be to get these two disconnected monsters together. An expedition team is lured by the Predators—dreadlocked and armored beasts—to an outpost in Antarctica. The humans travel beneath the ice to an ancient pyramid where Aliens and Predators have had showdowns every 100 years. From what I could gather, Aliens can’t be born without incubating in a living host, thus the Predators’ need for humans. A big mother Alien is kept in shackles, where it freezes in between battles and is shocked back to life for more egg production.
The expedition is led by Lance Henriksen, who played Bishop in the second and third Alien movies and acts as the only link to either of the former films. His presence is welcomed, if not altogether memorable.
Because this movie is aimed at young comic-book fans, Anderson has brought it in at PG-13, which is an abomination. These are two of the fiercest, goriest monsters in cinema history, so a light version of their carnage feels like a super cheat. Blood splatters on snow, characters are heard screaming from a distance, but relatively little in the way of sci-fi violent mayhem is shown. That might make concerned parents happy, but true Alien and Predator fans will be disappointed.
The most disappointing aspect, beyond shoddy direction and bad Predator makeup, is how both creatures have lost some fierceness. One character manages to dispatch an Alien as if it were just a big centipede, impaling it and holding it skyward as if it weighed 10 pounds. That same character has an almost friendly bond with one of the Predators, something that is sure to make horror purists howl with disappointment and get sick to their stomachs.
Ridley Scott and Sigourney Weaver had been talking about revisiting the Alien franchise with one last blast for Ripley. While Alien Vs. Predator had a decent opening weekend, something tells me this won’t be a huge financial success, and the future of both franchises is once again in jeopardy. After a few too many bad sequels and ideas, it’s time to let Scott try to fix one of the franchises he started. (CPL, CR, CS, ER, NM)