Alien Vs Predator

Alien Vs Predator

**

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

I'd like to begin this review by saying that Alien Versus Predator is a film which has come in for an awful lot of harsh criticism which I don't think is really fair. The attention of its critics is roundly focused on the film it might have been, rather than on the film it is. Whilst I understand the frustration which comes from seeing a favourite story produced badly, knowing how much harder it will thereafter be to get it produced well, it would be difficult for any film to satisfy the leagues of fans who have been impatiently waiting for this particular conflict ever since an Alien skull was spotted in the Predator ship in Predator 2. This movie has it where it counts. Making unusually proficient use of CGI technology, it gives us epic monster on monster action which is convincing, exciting, and even well acted. Of course, the human actors are universally shite (even poor old Lance Henriksen); but what do they matter? This isn't about humans.

That the film is aiming for a non-human audience is emphasised by the rather charming credits, all produced in Predator script and then translated. In parallel to this, a series of carefully layered visuals provide us with the Predator point of view. The humans are incidental, just bait in a trap. The design of this trap, and its dramatic history, represent overblown science fantasy worthy of David Twohy, with some of the silliest misinterpretations of Ancient Egyptian and Aztec archaeology to date. But this is all par for the course.

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What's rather more problematic is the timescale. After a tedious first half hour spent almost exclusively watching the humans, we see the ancient mechanisms go to work with a speed which defies any sensible principles of chemistry and biology, terrestrial or otherwise, along with our established understanding of the pace of Alien reproduction. This is a shame, as there's plenty of potential in this part of the film, and it could have lasted longer without losing any of its edge.

The scriptwriters seem over-hasty to dispose of surplus characters so that they can concentrate on building up the few who might survive, including a heroine who must be something alien herself, judging by her ability to survive Antarctic weather. At this point, the story takes a predictable direction, showcasing the Predator civilisation and values, losing something interesting in the process. The Alien queen, initially attracting some sympathy and showing some character, becomes just another flailing monster, not nearly as scary as she ought to be; and she'd have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for those damn unexpected loopholes in the laws of physics. But one can't have it all.

This film isn't as good as it should have been, but it's still a lot of fun. If you can overlook the feeble dialogue and plentiful minor plot holes, it's well worth watching.

Reviewed on: 03 Oct 2006
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Alien Vs Predator packshot
Alien vs Predator, with man in the middle.
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Read more Alien Vs Predator reviews:

Keith Hennessey Brown ***
Gator MacReady ***
David Haviland **
Scott Macdonald *1/2

Director: Paul W S Anderson

Writer: Paul W S Anderson, Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Schusset

Starring: Sanaa Lathan, Raoul Bova, Lance Henriksen, Ewen Bremner, Colin Salmon, Tommy Flanagan, Joseph Rye, Agathe De La Boulaye, Carsten Norgaard, Sam Troughton, Petr Jákl

Year: 2004

Runtime: 97 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Czech Republic / Canada / Germany / USA

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If you like this, try:

Alien
Aliens
Predator
Predator 2