on 31 December 2004
Aliens. Predators. You would have thought with two of the greatest cinenmatic monsters in one film, it'd be difficult to get it wrong. Still, Paul 'WS' Anderson does a fairly good job. This time a team of Arctic explorers led by Charles Bishop Weyland (the founding 'father' of the 'Company' from the Alien series) are drawn to a temple in the antartic after it's identified by satellite. Thus begins an hour and a half of thrills, spills, schlock horror and a total absence of anything to put it on a par with the franchises that spawned it.
Which is not to say that it's a bad film. Whether or not you enjoy Alien vs. Predator is really dependent on what you're expecting. If you're looking for the intelligent plot exposition you found in the first 3 Alien movies, you're likely to be heavily disappointed. If, however, you're looking for the gratuitous gore (albeit largely Predator / Alien) and sense of suspense that went with the first Predator film, then you're a lot more likely to walk away happy.
AVP is somewhat of a mixed bag. Anderson is definitely a man who believes in old school cinematics (he wisely dispensed with the use of CGI unless it was absolutely necessary), but some of the cinematography and editing leaves a lot to be desired (one of the main AVP fights is shot so close and edited so quickly that it makes it very difficult to really see what's going on). For the most part however, the film retains a palpable sense of tension throughout and is a guaranteed to provide a few jumps and thrills for first time viewers. Special mention should be made for the set design which is superb and quite convincing - it's obvious where Andersons forte lies...
Where the film does fall down though, is on its script and storyline. The script is almost unnecessary - merely providing a vehicle from which to jump from one fight to the next. The actors make the best of what they're given, but ultimately much of the dialogue is cheesy and unsatisfying. As for the storyline - it broke so many rules of the Alien franchise (there's no Ripley, the suggestion that Charles Weyland provided the prototype for the Bishop android, the discovery of the Alien creature prior to the events of Alien, the lack of further exposition of the Alien lifecycle etc.) that many of the diehard fans from the original franchise must have run screaming for their Quadrilogy boxsets. Thankfully though, the film was never meant to be philosophised about in the same way as the originals and can only be taken at face value - it would have been far worse had Anderson attempted something more complex. Having said that though; it is sad that there is too much which is left unexplained or uncovered in this film - it simultaneously expects the audience to have an appreciation and understanding of the original franchises and to also ignore them due to the glaring continuity errors.
Ignoring the originals though, is ultimately the answer to appreciating AVP - if you can see it for what it is (an entertaining action romp with lots of monsters) then you're likely to think it's fantastic. For purists though - this is best avoided and filed away with 'Alien Resurrection'.
On the DVD itself you'll find an extended version with a different beginning (readers of the book will already know of the plot line set in the early 20th Century), some deleted scenes (nothing special, but a couple which would have been nice had they been included), commentary from the director, Sanaa Lathan and Lance Henriksen, a making of featurette and on the DVD - Rom some features on the original Dark Horse comics. Probably worth the extra £3 you'd shell out over the 1 disc edition.
With regards to the deleted scenes and added beginning - for fans who were disappointed with the lack of gore and low rating of the movie in theatres - this will do nothing to change their opinion, nor will it do much to rectify some of the plot holes - these scenes are curiosities; nothing more. The title 'Extreme Edition' is possibly a little misleading and I daresay only placed in order to play upon these hopes.
Overall though, for the average horror film fan with nothing better to do, this film is an entertaining piece of popcorn fiction and worth a look.
If you forget that this is the continuation of two very successful franchises, and consider this as a graphic novel adaptation, then it is actually a bit more successful than people give it credit for.
In tone and spirit, this is much more of a Predator movie than an Alien movie - it is as an Alien movie this most disappoints. However, as Predator movie I would suggest this is better than Predator 2 was.
The plot is set in modern time, when a heat signature revealing a hidden pyramid under the ice is seen by satellite. The owner of the satellite, played by Lance Henrikson, brings together a team of archaeologists, biologists and `security' (the equivalent of Star Trek redshirts I guess) to investigate. What they find is a pyramid used by Predators to hunt the ultimate prey - the Alien.
The rest of the story is just bunkum, and don't think too hard about many of the continuity points because much of it does not quite work, but the action scenes are handled adequately, mostly by pilfering ideas from the previous movies and reproducing them in watered down form for characters we have not yet come to care about. Best original (-ish) idea was that the pyramid reconfigures every 10 minutes once activated, to add spice to the hunt and help split our characters up to be picked off one at a time.
Saana Lathan is no Sigourney Weaver, but a stronger character than one might expect from Paul W. S. Anderson (who also directed Mortal Kombat). Nice to see Colin Salmon, the English actor of several Brosnan era Bond movies, in another role - shame it wasn't in a better movie.
Overall, this is not a disaster as a movie given its rushed production and low bdget - but don't go in with any expectations of anything approaching even the worst of the Alien movies. Think of it as a so-so Predator sequel and you get the idea.
3 ½ stars - I'll opt for 3, because of the corny script at times.
One reviewer has pronounced "Alien Vs. Predator" as a "guilty pleasure" - a very accurate description in my book. I really shouldn't like this - it really shouldn't be any good - and I really should be bowing down in abject unworthiness at the altar of Directors Ridley Scott and James Cameron for the first two movies in the endlessly watchable "Alien" franchises.
But then I think - ah screw it - I'll watch the bleeding thing anyway. And lo and behold and whack me over the head with a spine-removing warrior from outer space - but “Alien vs. Predator” is a lot better than it had any chest-buster right to be...
Anyway - should you be game enough to want to own the individual disc rather than a multiple set - be aware that the 'US' edition on 20th Century Fox is REGION A LOCKED - so it will not play on our machines unless they're chipped to be 'all regions' (which few are). Personally - I'd plumb for a UK Box Set offering instead.
"Alien vs. Predator" may be hammy and gooey and clammy - but these endless remakes are still a great night in with your favourite off-world slimeballs who just can’t wait for a good old entrails-spattered scrap in the ice...
on 22 June 2005
I couldn't wait to see the film so I read the book. Then I read the reviews, so I wasn't expecting too much. Fans and admirers of the Alien and Predator films are bound to judge this film harshly because of its claimed connection with their lofty and prestigious heritage, which is something like a false claim to descent from a royal lineage. It tried hard but failed miserably to coherently bridge the two: being the prequel to Alien and the sequel to Predator. Anyone familiar with those two separate traditions will spot some obvious holes and inconsistencies that might just be the inevitable result of trying to shoe-horn the sometime incompatible elements together using mainly brute-force. Then some glaring absurdities were also thrown into the mix for good measure. One that particularly struck me was the nonsense with the Aztec calendar. The archaeologist works out how to open the sarcophagus containing the weapons by turning the dials to 10/10/2004 without having to think about the complicated conversion from the Aztec calendar of 18 (20-day) months plus 5 extra days at the end of each year, to the modern Gregorian 12 month calendar. Then, when the trouble starts, he works out that the walls and floors will shift every 10 minutes because the Aztec calendar was metric. Good grief! As if the Aztecs had 60-second minutes, 60-minute hours and 24-hour days (and digital watches no doubt), like us. The Aztecs got their calendar from the Maya (who went out of business in about 925 AD) and the shortest time unit the Maya had was a whole day. And the pyramid they're investigating was supposed to have been built before the Antarctic region got cold. Antarctica's current layer of ice started to accumulate about 50 million years ago by the way - some considerable time before hominids appeared, never mind apprentice pyramid builders and predator worshipers.
Even so, it's an entertaining film, if only you can suspend your need for logic, accuracy and consistency. The sets, miniatures and computer generated special effects are just excellent. The cinematography is very professional. A lot of skill, talent and hard work went into making this film and the only thing that lets it down is the story. If it were possible to give star ratings for separate elements of the film I would give it 5*s for technical perfection.
on 29 May 2008
Now that the sequel is out, I think it's time for a reassessment of the original "Aliens vs. Predator" film. Despite its faults, I never thought the first "AvP" movie was bad. Okay, the Aliens going from egg to full-grown warrior in about an hour was ridiculous in the extreme, but the rest of it ain't that bad.
Plot-wise, it's based semi-loosely on the first "AvP" comic book by Dark Horse. You have the Yautja (Predators, for you non-übergeeks) setting up a rite-of-passage hunt for their adolescents. This involves luring some Humans to a hunting ground where they will become the hosts for some xenomorphs, which the Predator youngsters will then hunt for their first blooding. There's some VERY Danikenite backstory in there, which is VERY cool. And then the rest is adrenaline-fuelled carnage, with the Yautja originally out to kill the Aliens AND any surviving Humans, but, like the original, the last Predator teams up with the last Human to wipe out the hive.
It's SO close to the original Dark Horse story, that I think I would've preferred to see THAT filmed, but "AvP" does provide some nifty links and foreshadowing to hint at how Humanity gets from its current level of technology to the starfaring species seen in "Alien." Apart from the vastly improved special effects, "AvP" is not the best movie in the Fox Studios Vicious Beasties From Outer Space Franchise, but I still think it's worth a watch. (Also, it's got the painfully cool Lance Henriksen in it, and I happen to think Sanaa Lathan is real purty, which swung my opinion.) "Citizen Kane" it's not, but "AvP" scores so high on the Cool Graph for me that I'm willing to overlook most flaws. Except for the rapid-growth Aliens one.
If given the choice between a single-disc Regular Edition or a multi-disc Special Edition, I'll go for the latter every time. There are loads of nifty behind-the-scenes stuff on Disc 2 of this set, but those are mostly for the die-hard fans, like me. Casual viewers may want to save their money and get the single-disc Regular Version.
on 27 March 2005
This could and should have been a fantastic movie but sadly it wasn't.
I was particularly unimpressed with the so called 'extended edition' of the movie - the extension came in at 1 minute and 20 seconds and despite watching both versions I can't see where the additional bits came in. If you are only after the extended movie, go for the single disc edition.
As regards the movies itself, they simply tried to put too much into too short a movie and the storyline suffered [needed at least 15 more minutes to avoid the feeling of being rushed]. The characters were useless; if the black girl (So forgettable I can't remember the name of her character) was supposed to pick up where Sigourney, Arnie or even Danny Glover left off, they made a BIG casting or writing mistake, the Scottish scientist was so lame we don't even feel sympathy for his boys when he gets a face hugger and the Itallian acheologist was surely only there to rattle off the background in the middle of the film after translating a whole room of hieroglyphs in 30 seconds (Even Stargates Daniel Jackson says ermmmmmmm beforehand).
Story was lame, the alien queen can dig gerself out of 2Km of ice in seconds but can't quite reach our herione behind a couple of sticks. The best bit was the look of suprise on the Predators face when he sees the queen.
However the special effects were great the predators particularly but that simply isn't special enough any more to rescue a bad film.
It may just have been me but the whole thing seemed like an extended trailer for AvP2.
on 17 February 2005
Alien Vs Predator had so much potential, and could have been one of the greatest films of all time. The terrifying atmosphere of Alien, the fast paced action of Aliens, the sheer gore and violence of Predator, and (what could have been) breathtaking fights between two of the greatest movie monsters ever.
Instead, we get a predictable tale of mediocre acting and effects, strung together by a story very loosely based on AVP: Prey (an AVP comic and novel). Bascially, a hapless group of scientists, drillers and a 'guide' (who, may I point out, was not even needed afterall) travel to a deserted region in Alaska where an underground temple has been discovered. Little do they know, they have set off a chain reaction which will awaken the Xenomorph (or Alien, for the non-fans) terror and bring the Predators to earth for a rite of passage.
From the start, we can tell who will die and who will survive (as other reviewers have stated, the "These are my lovely sons/loving families" line is always the giveaway, while the strong, well-meaning, and all-round annoying lead female who is blatant Ripley-wannabe clearly has a long life ahead of her). Obviously, we would not care that much about the humans anyway, but such cardboard characters and poor acting is just unforgivable.
The Aliens and Preds were done fairly well, though it is easy to see where the CGI kicks in. The fights, however, are a major dissapointment. We don't really see what's going on, and the Preds do some REALLY idiotic things (the 'greatest hunters in the universe' don't seem to be at all capable of hunting their way out of a paper bag). It's hard to root for the heroes of them film when two of them get ripped apart by a LONE alien one after another (remember, I love Aliens, but even I found this a little silly). The main Pred, Scar, is also depicted as quite weak. Unlike the badasses from Pred 1 and 2, this newbie is totally lost without his massive shoulder-gun.
The way some of the characters were immortal also annoyed me a bit. The lead female, Lex, was always just out of reach of all attacks from Alien and Pred alike (even when her comrades where slaughtered from much greater distances), and her attackers always seemed to conveniently stall right before they attack here (leaving themselves wide open to an attack from their rival species). And...I could have sworn Aliens have acidic blood? Well, I guess they just don't bleed when they're attacking a main character. The lead Pred also seemed to have luck on is side: unlike his ill-fated comrades, his weapons and armor are unaffected by the acidic blood of the aliens.
Though most of us were hoping for a 2 hour, R rated, ingeniously written gore-and-fight-fest with likeable characters, the actual film was possibly just about average, and it's various flaws may be overlooked by fans. Most adrenaline junkies and mild-thrill seekers will be entertained too.
I actually quite like this movie but then I'm an Alien nutjob! My hubby is more on the side of the Predators and the kids are in the middle. We watched this in sheer delight the first time and I was perfectly happy. It's not until I'd watched it again that little things began to niggle at me.
For instance, the amount of time it takes for the face huggers to do their job and for the aliens to burst out of the chests was a litte too quick. And I fail to see that a Predator would be so quick to help a human in real life...listen to me talking like this stuff would actually happen!
Anyway, it's a good story and gives a good explanation as to where the Aliens originated from. It's also good to see Lance Henrickson back playing Bishop, (of sorts anyway!). Don't be too put off by the bad reviews, I wasn't and I enjoy this film quite regularly.
on 7 March 2005
This is a weak film. The storyline is pretty unconvincing, the premise of the archaeological expedition simply daft. Who built that pyramid there? Those scientists that looked like mercenaries............turned out to be mercenaries! That surprised me. And they had to discover the pyramid (under 150 metres of ice for those lucky enough to have been spared this film) on the day the group of Predators turned up!
I say predators.........I think these must have been in the bottom set at the predator school. The semi-retard predators, who paid no attention in class, clearly shirked PE and were forced into the inter-galactic version of Fat Camp for remedial predators. They were pretty useless. Schwarzenegers Special Forces team would have had this lot without sustaining casualties.
The aliens were pretty average - woke up hungry as normal, mummy alien gets upset and runs out for the finale. You know, normal stuff.
The plotline had bigger holes in it that a corpse used for incubating an alien.
To conclude - a wasted opportunity.
on 16 July 2008
as a fan of the stunning four alien films(particularly the first two)and the first predator film i decided to give this film a go...i didnt have high expectations when i watched it so therefore i didnt take some of the scenes seriously.
after it finished i was a little dissappointed yet thought it was decent and reasonably fun to watch...it was by no means scary,but some of the effects were particularly good.
it suffered at the box office in 2004,which is very understandable.
my advice is to buy it at this great price and give it a chance...it isn't completely awful but at the same time it doesn't stand out as being a great horror film...nevertheless it is a lot better than some of the tripe we have had in he previous few years...and it is better than its sequel.
in my eyes this is a completely different franchise and should not be compared to the(mesmerising) alien franchise nor the original predator film as they are and always will be far superior,interestingly i got a lot more enjoyment out of this film than i did with the sequel to predator which was...well...plain awful.
the Queen is given a CGI makeover which gives her the ability to be more agile and flexable when chasing after victims,but by doing this it makes her far less scary than in the astoinding ALIENS when she first made her debut...however there are some decent performances(occaisonly steroetyped)and Sanaa Lathen made a decent(not astounding...and never will be Ripley)performance as the lead heroine,but it is of course the fight scenes that of course gives this film the edge it needs...and that is the only thing that keeps it stable...while not gory the scenes are entertaining and far better staged in this film than in the awful sequel...this film i by far more superior.
all in all it is a decent film that while not as stunning as the alien films manages to stand its own ground and remains very independant and better than some horror films of today but fails to become an astounding sequel or the super gory action spectacular that us hardcore Alien fans all hoped for...but it is okay and the(i wish they hadnt bothered)sequel makes this film better.
a 5.5/10 from me.