Alien vs Predator (2004)
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
The great Lance Henriksen (playing Charles “Bishop” Weyland) and a group of bland archeologists/scientists/drillers take a snow trip beneath the icy surface of Antarctica to check out an odd pyramid. Next thing you know, fierce puberty-angst Predators crash the party, ruthless alien Xenomorphs pour in and all hell breaks loose….in PG-13 thermal mode that is… “That's it, man! Game over, man! Game over!”
Making one film that involves both the Aliens and the Predators is, in my opinion, a synonym to splitting “headaches”. How the hell do you slap these two beyond-beloved species into a single narrative and have the “meat” hold up as a full length feature film? How do you tell your own story without disregarding all that has been established in both separate series (6 weighty entries combined)? Well, from where I was sitting, Mr. Anderson tackled the challenge admirably beginning with the Pyramid and the Teen Predators’ rite of passage concepts.
Not only did the Predators’ tie to “true life” legend (humans worshipping Gods’ who dropped by in “Chariots of Fire”) gel so damn well within their mythology, I also boogied to how the Pyramid’s inner “Domino Effect” mechanism unraveled to finally get the Aliens and the Predators into the same ring. Quite “Rubik's Cube” inventive! Sure, the premise resulted in some ALIEN rules being bent to keep the sequence of events moving (like the gestation time of a chest-burster), but I let that shit go in the name of enjoying myself. I mean, that’s why I gave away my green and was sitting in that vibrating seat…no? In addition, the noticeable efforts to keep to and/or wink at both franchises rubbed my “cloaked staff” the right way. In fact, solely having Lance Henriksen in the mix would’ve been enough for me! His classy presence gave an extra ounce of “street cred” to the proceedings and his screen time blessed me with some of my fav bits in the film (all about his “face a face” with a Predator).
The picture displayed even more respect to its source material by going as far as referencing the comics during its final block, in terms of the Predator/Human relationship. Although the twist was kind of rushed, I personally signed, sealed, delivered and bought it! A matching esteem to roots was applied to the “we love to fear them” Alien entities who looked simply razor-kool amazing! The mix of practical and CG that was used to communicate the slime-balls was bang-on! After the cruddy "Alien: Resurrection", I didn’t think the acid-filled buggers would ever jolt me again, but they gave me the willies here! And did you see that Alien Queen? WOW! Not only did they thankfully mostly keep to her "Aliens" blueprint, but being that technology is superior today, she got to do the “woman-dance” like never before! Great stuff! Lastly, although few and far between, the Alien vs. Predator skirmishes that went down in this petting zoo had me cumming to “fanboy” paradise! I couldn’t have imagined better "mano a mano" fights between the two beasties taking place! Thank you P.A.!
Sadly, the Predator humanoids didn’t fare as well as their slick Alien counterparts. Their feel, toughness and look were “off”. They felt like dudes in suits to me (We needed you Kevin Peter Hall…RIP). Some checked out too easily and I didn’t care for the “unmasked” update they did on its face. At least the myriad of slick weapons they used whooped me into smiles (my tops were the net and that giant shuriken). But where AVP truly botched up, is that it tried to keep to the spirit of "Alien" when it should’ve aimed for "Aliens". The buildup was too extensive and the pace lagged at times in between the action. Two factors that aided ALIEN, ALIENS and PREDATOR in making their chain of events go down smoother than an ice cold brew on a Sunday morning were “fleshed out enough characters” and “standout” casting. I genuinely cared about the Commandos/Marines for those reasons.
Here, the cast was too wide, the character development sloppy and true to grit testosterone was sorely missing. To make matters worse, one duder was mucho grating in being Mr. Exposition (the Pepsi Cola Man), the dialogue was silly-willy at times (Hunter’s Moon a-holes…) and the “shreddies” ensemble expired too damn swiftly. Result: all of the kill scenes had almost zero impact on me! My final irritation was the evident PG-13 rating which resulted in lots of the violence taking place off screen. Shit, the Predators hung up their victims with all their clothes on! WTF? Either skin those trophies or if you’re in that much of a hurry…don’t freaking bother stringing them up! The lack of “balls and guts” pissed me off more than that time I caught this hombre (Es tu, JoBlo?) nailing my ex-girlfriend in the crapper with no sign of lube. How insulting! The ALIEN and the PREDATOR franchises were rated R for a valid reason...graphic violence! I’m an adult man...don’t treat my like a f-ing diapered, pooped up child! TAKE THE TIME TO BLEED (he he he)!
On the whole, AVP was flawed and yes, it pussied out with its lack of “true” gore. But at the same time, it was a fairly clever and entertaining film that managed to stand on its own two paws as a separate chapter in the legacies that are ALIEN and PREDATOR. I personally had some fun, even with the muck-ups in tow. Let's chest-burst this one open!
We get a couple of impalings, some alien tail stabbings, a Predator’s head being punctured by an Alien spring-mouth, a sliced off Alien head, a don’t blink or you’ll miss it chest-burster bit, blood on blades and way too many off-screen slashings. We needed REAL GORE, MAN! “Bunch of slack-jawed faggots around here. This stuff will make you a god damned sexual Tyrannosaurus, just like me”!
Lance Henriksen (Weyland) was the more layered character here and the man rocked the burning house down, as per usual! Sanaa Lathan (Alexa) surprised me, since I was convinced that she was going to be a bore, but wound up holding her own as the “Ripley” inspired heroine. Raoul Bova (Sebastian) was decent as the charismatic Italian “nice guy”, but his character’s knack for explaining everything along the way annoyed me! SHUT UP! Ewen Bremner (Graham) also grated the crap out of me! I didn’t give two shits about his kids or his accent! Aghate de la Boulaye (Adele) was quite the charismatic cutie, too bad her screen time was so limited. I wanted more of her! Colin Salmon (Maxwell) had a very strong presence (as he did in "Resident Evil"), regrettably the flick didn’t focus on him enough. Carsten Norgaard (Quinn) was the closest we got to a “tough guy”. I didn’t buy his delivery and my poodle would make mince meat of his role in a second. WHERE’S SONNY LANDHAM WHEN YOU NEED HIM!
T & A
Lathan looked swell in a tank top and the Alien Queen had a great edgy ass!
Props to Anderson for opening the film with a satellite traveling through space. That bit echoed how all of the "Alien" movies began (space ship traveling through space). We also got money shots galore (that slow-mo when the face-huggers leaped out of their eggs was priceless), lots of dark mood (the icy surroundings were well milked) and creative camera plays up the ying-yang. Why was P.A. in a hurry to get the kills and the action scenes out of the way though? Let me relish them bro!
The score by Harald Kloser was like the character development...too generic to completely engage or leave a permanent impression.
Distributor: Fox Home Video
Release Date: January 25,
IMAGE: This edition sported a Widescreen anamorphic - 2.35 image. You can also purchase the film in Full Screen. Why weren’t both image formats slapped on “one” disk? Oh yeah! GREED! I hate when they do that!
SOUND: We get English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround and English: DTS 5.1 Surround options.
• Commentary 1: Director Paul W.S. Anderson, Lance Henriksen, and Sanaa Lathan come in (on the theatrical version only) to talk shop. They mostly commented on the film as it was unraveling before them as opposed to giving us background/behind the scenes info. Lance was all about fawning on Anderson’s shots, Anderson was the key “trivia” giver (dug him pointing out the subtle nods to the Alien and Predator films in AVP) and Lathan would pitch in now and then with her two cents. Even though I didn’t find the commentary as insightful as it should’ve been and that dead time was present; it still made for a decent listen.
• Commentary 2: Alec Gillis (alien effects), Tom Woodruff Jr. (alien effects), and visual effects supervisor John Bruno jump in (on the theatrical version only) to comment on the effects of the film, give us info as to how they were accomplished and pointing out what was CG and what wasn’t. Dead time was also present on this track and I personally can’t say that I learned anything new. An okay listen, specially if “effects” are your jive.
• Extended version with a new beginning: We have the option to watch the Theatrical Version or the Extended version with an added beginning. This "new" opening was nothing to kill over. It ran for about 1 minute and 35 seconds; had a guy frantically run around a deserted camp in 1904, he gets corned by a Predator, an alien pops up, roll opening credits. I had read that the scene was much more extensive, showing the discovery of a shut Predator pod by the campers, the imminent release of the Predator upon the premises which resulted in a lengthy massacre and then the bit that was shown. Why didn’t we get the whole scene? What a bummer!
• Deleted scenes (2:17 minutes): We get three deleted scenes that we can play together or individually, the scenes were: The Other Mexico, Connor’s Death and Predator Humor. Only the latter was of interest to me; it was cute. You sneaky Predator you! But where the hell were the gore bits that were supposedly snipped out to get the PG 13 rating? Bugh! Disappointing feature.
• The Making of Alien VS Predator (23 Minutes): This featurette explored Paul Anderson’s inspiration for the film and the origins of the AVP comics. Then it had Producer John Davis come in to explicate the arduous process of getting the film off the ground. Lastly, director Paul Anderson took us through the film’s sets, monster effects, story, the casting and more! A gnarly feature that hit the spot in terms of FINALLY giving us some weighty background info on the flick.
We also get a Inside Look (trailers for upcoming FOX films), Dark Horse Comic Book Cover Gallery and DVD-ROM options. I don’t have DVD Rom capacity on my shit-box computer but I hear that through it you’ll find: The first edition of the AVP comic book, some AVP comic book background and an exclusive 16-page preview of the upcoming AVP graphic novel.
For those who didn’t dig the flick, this DVD release won’t change your mind! For those who boogied to it, you’ll be disappointed to see that all of the “deleted goodies” PA named-dropped when commenting on the R to PG-13 cut were absent. I say; save your moulah and wait for that eventual “Special Edition” which will hopefully contain some REAL treats in its back-pack. This release felt like a warm up!
I’ve had my own version of AvP in my cranium for years where a rumble of epic proportions a la "Aliens" took place. What I got as a substitute, most of the way, was a claustrophobic and slow-moving bash the likes of "Alien". However, I did manage to view the picture for what it was and not for what I wanted it to be...a character/dialogue blemished opus that still succeeded in giving me enough action for my time, while being ingenious and visually top notch. And no matter how you cut the steak, you can’t go wrong with the two top creatures in sci-fi land populating ONE movie. YOU JUST CAN’T! I’d like to end off with my own humble “fanboy” requests for the sequel. Can we get some testosterone heavy Marines in there with Pulse Rifles and call it a freaking BLAST? Oh…and let’s make that an R Rating too, guys…I’m after all, a grown-up that has contributed lots of coin over the years to keep both franchises alive. “In case you haven't been paying attention to current events, we just got our asses kicked, pal! “ THANK YOU, COME AGAIN!
You notice Bishop playing with that pen like he did the knife in "Aliens"? Nice!
Didn’t "Predator" and "Predator 2" establish that the Hunter loved doing his thing in warm climate? Why Antarctica then?
Paul Anderson loves dicing actor Colin Salmon up! He did it in both "Resident Evil" and "AvP".
It seems this flick was called "Alien vs. Predator" as opposed to "Aliens vs. Predator" in order to separate it from the the comics and video games.
"Weyland Yutani" is the name of the “company” in the ALIEN world. "Bishop" was the android in ALIENS and ALIEN 3. That’s how the character of "Charles Bishop Weyland" was born.