Alien Vs Predator

Alien Vs Predator

***

Reviewed by: Keith Hennessey Brown

The Weyland Corporation picks up a signal from deep within the Antarctic and sends a hand-picked team to investigate. There is a pyramidal structure 2000 feet below the surface, reminiscent of Aztec, Egyptian and Cambodian designs - Atlantis meets Chariots of the Gods. If this wasn't weird enough, there's also now a perfectly 30 degree angle shaft drilled down to the pyramid. It wasn't there yesterday.

The explorers press on regardless, worried that someone else has beaten them to the discovery of a lifetime. Inside they discover a sacrificial chamber where the human victims look to have been consumed from inside. They also soon trigger the trap that unleashes the inhabitant from suspended animation, the whole complex having been created by the Predators as a high-tech arena where they can test their hunting prowess against a worthy adversary: the prodigiously fecund Alien Queen.

Copy picture

So, it's Alien(s) versus Predator(s) with homo sapiens caught in the middle to provide for some human perspective on what could otherwise have been a very dull affair...

The script has plenty of interesting ideas, even if filched from the likes of Quatermass And The Pit and The Thing, and does a nice job of providing retrospective continuity in explaining why the corporation in the Alien films knows about the creatures and why Aliens' android Bishop looks the way he does and does that thing with the knife and his hand.

True, there are plot holes galore and rather large leaps of logic required - you can't help feel that the Predators would have either extinguished themselves long ago and found there to be nowhere to go after successfully testing their skills against the Aliens, to name but two - but they don't really hit you until after the lights have come up.

More harmful, then, are the over-abundance of cliched and banal action movie situations - the would-be witty one-liners, the should-have-been-impressive set-pieces etc - that never seem to have quite the impact the film-makers desired.

In particular, whereas the Aliens remain fast, ferocious and unknowably Other, the Predators are perhaps too humanised - or, rather, given the von Daniken-esque subplot, we humans are more Predator-like - and have an unfortunate tendency to come across as lumbering guy-in-a-suit Godzilla-style monsters.

Still, as long as one's expectations aren't too high - and, lets face it, approaching a comic-book adaptation that has been mooted for a decade or more and would only seem to have finally been given the green light in the wake of the success of Freddy vs Jason (though it has to be said that was an easier proposition logistically, thanks to the rights to the title characters being owned by Wes Craven and Sean Cunningham, who go way back together) rumoured to have been severely cut by a studio keen to achieve a more commercial 15 rating they shouldn't be - it delivers the goods.

With an ending that paves the way for the inevitable sequel the question has to be what next providing the box-office requirements are met: Alien versus Predator versus The Thing? Alien meets a digitally resurrected Abbot and Costello?

Reviewed on: 18 Oct 2004
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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:

Gator MacReady ***
Jennie Kermode **
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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Alien
Aliens
Predator
Predator 2