Alien Vs Predator

Alien Vs Predator

*1/2

Reviewed by: Scott Macdonald

What to make of Alien vs. Predator? The first thought that screeched through this viewer's bored skull was "What a sickening cash grab!"

Instead of two grand movie monsters setting the screen on fire with scares, atmosphere and adrenaline rushes, as both franchises are capable of, we end up with an almost unwatchably dull desecration of all that came before. It's a gimmick, a poorly realised, created and directed film, written for teenagers battered into submission with video games.

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An aspect of the Alien and Predator movies that I've admired is that their tones and styles are completely different. Alien, Aliens, Alien3 and Alien: Resurrection (admittedly awful, but spectacularly so) are cut from entirely different cinematic cloth, with the creature and heroine being the catalyst for various dramatic endevours. Predator and it's sequel are straightforward action movies, but again, use the environments to tell different kinds of story.

A prehistoric pyramid is discovered beneath the Antarctic in the present day by an orbiting satellite, which picks up an unknown heat signature from the area. Bishop Weyland (Lance Henriksen) finances an expedition to discover what it is and who built it, this under-ice monument in which an alien queen is kept in suspended animation and to where Predators come every 100 years to hunt their ultimate prey.

The expedition reaches Antarctica and the aliens come out to play, with three Predators to hunt everything down. Why? The scriptwriters don't say, or care. This lack of respect kills the enjoyment that this audience member could have had from such a silly ride. The hilariously OTT backstory, cheesily explained through three civilisations' hieroglyphics, is better served in comics.

The problems with the movie are numerous and aggravating, even for a fan of schlock horror. It feels like a music video, with shaky camerawork obscuring detail, while Anderson is content editing everything to within an inch of it's life. Holes in the plot are numerous and the idea of a video game fun house, with moving platforms, staggers belief and defies credibility, to say nothing of the lame "surprise" ending.

The characters are charitably described as one-dimensional and, for the first 45 minutes, we're forced to spend time with them as they stumble stupidly and chat inanely. It's flat, incoherent and lacking any kind of connection with the audience. When the two species finally come to blows, it fares a little better, with an alien facing off against a Predator hand to hand, and I confess a certain guilty pleasure at the outcome. The humans have to pick a side to survive, of course. We see an acid-proof alien skull used as a shield and an alien tail as a spear in a cheesily written pastiche of Arnie taking on the Predator with primitive weaponry.

Confessionally, I found myself liking some aspects of the film. Some of the production design and most of the creature work is good, if not scary. Criminally, there is not a single moment that could be described as frightening, or atmospheric. The film even has the sheer obvious and insulting cheek to delve into the "strange noise" cliche pool.

I'm beginning to despair as to future cynicism in ripping apart quality features. The permeating impression is that no one at 20th Century Fox actually cares whether they deliver a good movie, instead of pandering to fanboys. Should director Paul W S Anderson return to this cash well, I shall not.

Whichever species wins - no one really wins; there are future sequels to think of - we lose.

Reviewed on: 23 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:

Keith Hennessey Brown ***
Gator MacReady ***
Jennie Kermode **
David Haviland **

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