Last week's Face-Off column
delved into a pair of futuristic societies from a couple of prominent sci-fi/action movies, and most of you agreed that MINORITY REPORT offered a more intriguing, thoughtful and plausible future over the explosive DEMOLITION MAN.
This weekend, Arnold Schwarzenegger returns to screen in SABOTAGE
, leading a specialized squad of capable badasses. He's no stranger to that position after the John McTiernan action movie PREDATOR, but how would his team from that classic hold up against another tough group of military veterans facing an extraterrestrial threat -- the Colonial Marines from James Cameron's sci-fi masterpiece ALIENS?
Cigar-chomping Maj. Dutch Schaefer, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger and therefore virtually guaranteed to be the last biped standing
Skittish Lt. Gorman (William Hope), whose actual military experience included 38 drops... simulated. And two combat drops. Including this one.
Five elite hard-hitting military veterans, who make short work of an entire camp of heavily armed rebel guerrillas before getting hunted by an invisible enemy
One sergeant, seven infantry, two pilots, one medic and one synthetic human, who anticipate a straightforward "bug-hunt" (and some juicy colonist daughters), but who eventually need civilian adviser Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and a preteen girl to handle the xenomorph menace
Radio operator Hawkins (Shane Black), who tells bad jokes about pussy
Jumpy Pvt. Hudson (Bill Paxton), who makes hilarious facial expressions and spouts some of the most memorable one-liners in the history of genre movies
Dutch and the crew are locked and loaded with M-16s, submachineguns, a couple of grenade launchers, an M-60, various knives, pistols and explosives, and "Painless", a devastating handheld minigun
The Marines are packing M41A pulse rifles (with over-under grenade launcher), fire-belching incinerators, auto-tracking smartguns, pistols, hand grenades and a backup shotgun "for close encounters". No laser guns?
CIA liaison Dillon (Carl Weathers), who can hold his own with Dutch's macho badasses, even when missing an arm
Weyland-Yutani Corporation weasel Carter Burke (Paul Reiser), who prioritizes the value of the terraforming installation and the newly discovered alien species over the lives of the Marines
Dutch's rescue team has to rappel from hovering helicopters and trudge through dense, blisteringly hot South American jungle while being pursued by a creature who can blend in with the scenery
The Marines plummet through the atmosphere from the orbiting Sulaco in a dropship (also known as the "express elevator to Hell") down to the surface of Planet LV-426, a rainy rock with a terraforming facility that has cramped corridors and a dodgy thermal reactor
Besides a few dozen easily handled guerrilla soldiers, Dutch's team has to deal with a single extraterrestrial Predator, which collects skulls for sport, is armed with a deadly plasma cannon, and can camouflage itself with the push of a button
The Marines face a horde of crafty and lightning-fast xenomorphs, an alien species that bleeds corrosive acid and has a gigantic terrifying queen for a mother
Dutch discovers that cold, clammy mud can prevent detection by the Predator's heat vision, which he uses to his advantage by dropping a huge tree on the lethal alien. Analog solutions!
Of course, the Predator decided he would rather leave a giant smoking crater in the earth than ever admit to his buddies that he got suckered into such a simple trap...
When a failed extraction crashed a ship into the reactor and caused unstoppable instability, that tactical failure at least meant they didn't have to bother using a nuke from orbit.
But it was up to Ripley in a hydraulic power loader to dump the alien queen out of an airlock into the frigid vacuum of space
Dutch and a female prisoner got out of the jungle alive, but were never heard from again -- leaving it to Danny Glover, Adrien Brody and Paul WS Anderson to deal with the Predators
Ripley, Newt (Carrie Henn), Cpl. Hicks (Michael Biehn) and android Bishop (Lance Henriksen) survived their experience in one piece (well, maybe not Bishop), although only Ripley would return to fight the xenomorphs again on future occasions
Both teams have enough muscle, munitions and machismo to fill a half-dozen movies, and they each wind up in unexpected scenarios involving decidedly dangerous creatures from other planets. Their exploits are both likely ranked high on the favorites list of any self-respecting genre fan, but the jarheads of the future have the edge on the soldiers of the present, and the Colonial Marines take the prize from Dutch and his crew.
Agree? Disagree? Which do you prefer?
POST YOUR CHOICE BELOW!