Quantcast
subscriber help

artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Alien vs. Predator (review)

Game Over, Man

I call bullshit on this movie.

Bullshit for being a geeky tease. Bullshit for being bad in that way that’s super boring, for not even having the common decency to be bad in that way that’s super cheesy. You can’t even have fun making fun of this movie, it’s so not even trying. It barely even bothers to show up.
And I call bullshit on Paul W.S. Anderson. Producer John Davis says that Anderson, instead of some other hack of a director, “had to make” this film, because — you’ll love this — “he’s seen the original Alien and Predator hundreds of times, and he can recite virtually every scene by memory.” I’ve got Aliens memorized — can I direct Aliens vs. Predators? Surely the fact that I haven’t made a single movie makes me a better choice than Anderson, who proves, with movie after movie, like Resident Evil and Soldier, that he simply is incapable of making a film that doesn’t insult the intelligence and aesthetic sensibilities of pond slime. How many awful, monotonous, stupid movies does Anderson have to make before they take away his scissors and crayons? Cuz I wonder.

Not only did they let Anderson direct this dreck, they let him write it, too. Which I guess is why there isn’t a single memorable or quotable line, not a single character who feels like a real person, not a single moment that doesn’t feel contrived or obvious or both. There are such fannish attempts at witticism as making this a prequel, at least to the Alien films (it takes place in October 2004), one featuring Weyland Industries (pre the takeover of or by the Yutani people, clearly), which is headed up by — wait for it — billionaire Charles *ahem* Bishop Weyland, played by — wait for it — Lance Henriksen (Scream 3). Oh, Lance, how could you…

None of that would matter if the E.T. showdown was any good. Which it isn’t. And we don’t even get to it for way too long. There’s a whole lotta nonsense about a pyramid under the ice in Antarctica and the Weyland expedition to check it out, and for a while it’s more Indiana Jones vs. Stargate SG-1 while the Weyland team endures very big booming dramatic music trying to make them all excited about exploring this giant puzzlebox of a pyramid, done up abattoir style, kinda like that crazy satanic house in Thirteen Ghosts. Many useless people die horrible yet PG-13 deaths at this point, seemingly because no one could hear the all sorts of ancient machinery clanking and clanging and echoing as the pyramid awakened — perhaps by the humans’ presence, perhaps by the Predator ship in orbit; who cares? — nor could they hear the angry roars of an Alien queen who’s been suddenly defrosted and pressed into service laying eggs.

Sure, while nothing is happening, there are pretty ice-climbing specialist Alexa Woods (Sanaa Lathan: Out of Time, Brown Sugar) to look at, and pretty archaeologist Sebastian de Rosa (Raoul Bova: Under the Tuscan Sun) to look at (and his Italian accent to enjoy), even if she is nothing like the Ripley wannabe she is meant to be, and even if he is rather Dr. Obvious: “This is the sacrificial chamber,” he intones knowingly. Noooo? Really? You don’t say. We thought those desiccated corpses on the deliberately arranged altars with their chests blown out were part of the decor.

We came to see an Alien kick a Predator’s ass. Or vice versa. Doesn’t matter.

But Anderson felt it was necessary not to reveal the creatures too early. “That’s what made Alien, Aliens, and Predator so effective,” says Anderson. “Those films made the audiences wait to see the creatures. Audiences know they could ‘pop’ at any given moment, which heightens the fear. I wanted Alien vs. Predator to build slowly, like the original Alien, and then have the last 45 minutes be relentless action, akin to Aliens and Predator.”

Yup, Anderson thinks he can compare himself to the likes of Ridley Scott or James Cameron or John McTiernan. Two words: Puh. Leeze. Alien withheld the alien because it actually was an unknown quantity then (ditto Predator), and Aliens pretty much let the aliens cut loose and wreak havoc as soon as possible because they were by then a known quantity and we were all there to see more than one of the suckers. Aliens is downright merciless, absolutely lousy with attacking aliens. I’m starting to doubt Anderson’s appreciation of filmic suspense and drama and style. I think maybe he does not understand how they work.

Which would have been obvious in AvP anyway. The film is full of phony suspense, like “characters” not seeing what’s right in front of their faces until the camera pulls back and we can see it too. And with the monsters, serve it up right away or withhold it for “dramatic” purposes, he can’t handle it. The face huggers work a lot faster than in the past, I mean than in the future, oh I don’t know what I mean — anyway, it’s only mere minutes from the face hugging to the chest bursting, unlike the long, agonizing process of the other films, which eliminates any kind of suspense that he might possibly have created there. And when he finally gets to the actual AvP stuff, it’s so dark and poorly shot that you can’t even tell who’s getting the shit beat out of whom, except when it looks like really bad WWF, a Predator swinging an Alien around by an arm and a leg.

And the Aliens fight like they’re sentient, which makes no sense. Whaddaya mean they cut the power, they’re animals, man!

Oh, I don’t even know why I’m bothering. It’s not even any fun to invoke Hudson, and that’s just sad.


MPAA: rated PG-13 for violence, language, horror images, slime and gore

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb
posted in:
reviews
explore:

Pin It on Pinterest