Alien vs. Predator (2004)
By: Markus Zussner on June 7, 2006  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Fox Home Entertainment (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 2.35:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1, English DTS 5.1. English (FHI) Subtitles. 96 minutes
The Movie
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Starring: Sanaa Lathan, Raoul Bova, Ewen Bremner, Colin Salmon, Lance Henriksen
Screenplay: Paul W.S. Anderson
Music: Harald Kloser
Tagline: Whoever wins... We lose.
Country: USA
Before I start, I would really like to say that I like Paul Anderson Movies. Event Horizon is my favourite Anderson movie. I liked Soldier and also Resident Evil and its sequel. Although his films don't do so well at the box office, they kick ass in DVD land and they nicely fill the spaces in my DVD collection. However, I seem to have a problem with Alien Vs. Predator. Oh it does help fill the spaces on the DVD rack, but I don't want it to. I was hoping for something much more grand as is my expectation of an Alien or Predator movie. A movie that stands its own ground and makes a mark. A lot of fans had been waiting a long time for AVP to be made. When I heard that Anderson was going to helm AVP I was a little apprehensive. Anderson's films have a certain look and feel to them, right down to the way that his films are cast. Even though I like his movies I felt that his style would not suit AVP. I was hoping that Anderson would prove me wrong.

An ancient pyramid is discovered in Antarctica buried deep beneath the ice. The pyramid registers as a heat signature picked up by a Low Earth Orbit satellite owned by the Weyland Corporation. On behalf of the Weyland Corporation a group of scientists and adventurers are sent to investigate. Meanwhile a large spaceship full of our Predator buddies is on its way to the Pyramid to drop off a group of young Predators, which are about to perform their rite of passage as warriors. The Predators you see, keep coming back to perform this ritual every thousand years. It will be a fight to the death with, you guessed it, those deadly silicon Aliens that everyone fears being dribbled on. The predator ship reaches Earths orbit and fires a beam down to the surface that burns a tunnel through the ice. An activation system is triggered off within the pyramid, bringing the large Alien queen out of hibernation and into egg laying mode. Our lucky explorers including Mr Weyland himself find that the location of the pyramid is under an abandoned whaling station. They discover the ice tunnel made by the predator ship. How fortunate for Mr Weyland. Even if he has transported millions of dollars of drilling equipment and a full compliment of drilling experts for nothing. No not for nothing though because we need some good old Predator fodder to spice things up a little. The drilling team stay on the surface as target practice. The explorer team, essentially facehugger fodder headed by Alexa Woods (Sanaa Lathan), Sebastian de Rosa (Raoul Bova), Charles Bishop Weyland (Lance Henriksen), Maxwell Stafford (Colin Salmon) and Dr Graeme Miller (Ewan Bremner) go down the ice tunnel, enter the pyramid and touch something that doesn't belong to them. Naughty. A professional blunder. One very important rule of archaeology, at first instance; don't touch anything. It should have been clear to them after all, these people are a team of professionals and they all would've seen Raiders of the Lost Ark. Who hasn't? Unfortunately it's the Predators job to do this because the objects in question are heavy predator weapons that are to be utilised at this point of their trial. Once the weapons are removed from their storage department (a large sarcophagus) the trigger that sets the aliens in motion is set off. Doors seal, walls move and rooms begin to change shape, separating the explorer team into reluctant smaller groups. Eggs start a poppin' and facehuggers start a jumpin' and the Predators have only just cleaned up the drilling team on the surface. Damn! The predators would have been ready to kick ass if it wasn't for those pesky meddling humans. The human element in the pyramid is there mainly as fodder for the facehuggers. It was either that or have some hamsters on standby. With the facehuggers now actively hugging, the Aliens are quickly bursting from chests and growing to full size within minutes, and the remainder of the cast not facehugged are now caught in the battle between the Aliens and the Predators. Soon only Alexa Woods is left to carry the torch for the human entry and endure the obligatory half hour solo survival run in the last quarter of the movie. But which side to pick? This should be a no-brainer. "We come in peace" won't really go down with the aliens very well, it's like a quarter pounder with cheese begging me not to eat it when I'm starving. But you can negotiate with good old Mr Predator; you just need to know how (tip: don't shoot at them). So the last remaining Predator and Human team up to kick Alien butt. Who will survive?

Well I almost didn't when I first watched AVP on DVD. I had already heard a lot of bad things about AVP from people who watched the theatrical release. I went straight into AVP with an open mind. Alien is one of my favourite movies of all time and Predator rates quite high with me as well. From a hardcore fans point of view I thought the movie failed miserably. The story had so much potential and a lot could be explored but it decided to go for the no brainer approach of Kill Kill Kill. The cast and characters in the movie are great but they are never fully explored and in some cases totally overlooked. For example; there is a scene with Dr Miller talking to another explorer in the Pyramid after they are both separated from the rest of the expedition. There is this moment when the two bond and talk about their love for their families and that being their driving force to get out alive. What I thought was going be a good subplot of interest and an increase of dynamics to the story is quickly ground to a halt as one character is dragged down a hole with Dr Miller screaming that he would find him and get him out of this place. No such luck because Dr miller soon gets dragged away as well and that's pretty much the end of both of them, defeating the whole purpose of their dialogue scene. Later on there is a small scene with Dr Miller warding off impending facehuggers, which I though might evolve into something more but it only establishes his death scene. The Lead archaeologist Sebastian de Rosa has his very own character introduction at the start of the movie as if he is going to play a pivotal role in the film. However, just over an hour into the movie he is dragged away like every other interesting character and facehugged leaving our lead, Tara Woods to fend for herself. I thought that maybe Tara would rescue Sebastian later on, but no such deal, all the script could come up with was a merciful bullet to the brain. Rauol Bova is very famous in Italy and his presence in the film would have helped the box office takings in Europe. I'm sure his demise went down a treat with the Italians. You don't build up a character like that just to get snuffed out at the most pivotal part of the story. I'm not saying that he should have been a survivor but he should have maintained a useful presence until the very end at least. The Alexa Woods character played by Sanaa Lathan is left to carry the torch for the human entry for the duration of the film. Alexa Woods is no Ripley nor does Anderson base Woods on Ripley's Character, and this is a good move, but I felt that the character of Alexa Woods was flat and unbelievable. I believed Ripley was a first officer onboard a freighter, I just couldn't get my head round Alexa Woods being the mountain guide search and rescue type. Sanaa Lathan just didn't have me convinced. The Cave had me much more convinced that the characters were professionals in their field.

Now what about the last surviving Predator that took his mask off so that he could put makeup on? What a dick. I mean the young Predators would have had prior knowledge on what those slimy Aliens are capable of. Remember, the Predators come to the pyramid every thousand years and it seems that they have had a lot of interaction with the Alien (final scene Predator 2), so why would you want to risk being facehugged? It was so predictable. No way that Predator would have ever taken his mask off at that stage. Also why did it take over a thousand years for the Alien queen to hatch an escape plan? The Alien Queen would have thought of spitting acid to melt her metal bonds a long long time ago. If the excuse is that the Alien queen is in her own isolated chamber, then I still don't buy it. Rule of thumb when trying to hide or barricade from Aliens, "They always find a way in". Another mistake in this story was how the Predators love to scan. They scan and scan and then they scan some more. Gee all that scanning looks like fun. They scan you for weapons; they scan you for xenomorphs growing in your chest cavity and cancers eating your body. So why did the Elder Predator, a veteran of many battles over possibly a thousand years, standing beside a state of the art spaceship, take the body of the young Predator on board without scanning it first? It would have been a prerequisite of the Predator especially with the type of life form that they were hunting. I mean the young Predators continually used their scanning equipment throughout the hunt but the Elder Predator at the most crucial moment, um forgot? As a result we now have a half Predator half Alien born onto the ship. This did not result in a shock ending but rather a shocking ending. It was predictable as it was stupid. The Extended version has an alternate opening sequence showing a Predator and an Alien about to have it out at the Whaling station a hundred years before in 1904. Anderson says in the featurette that the Predators come visit every thousand years. Well it looks like these guys were about 900 years too early for their party. I also can't get my head around Charles Bishop Weyland being in the story. Anderson and Henriksen talk about his introduction in the featurette, but they don't venture to explain the logistics in any detail. The hints provided were, Lance saying he is not a returning character, but rather "the beginning" and Mr Anderson suggested that since Weyland corporation are leaders in the field of Robotics; they merely reinvented Charles Bishop Weyland 150 years later. Does this mean that the living, breathing and bleeding (blood not milk) Charles Bishop Weyland of Alien 3 one hundred and fifty years in the future is actually a clone with downloaded memories? Does this mean he's CEO of the Weyland Corporation or God? AVP is cast well and Lance Henriksen is always a welcome face in this genre even if he may have been cast as a draw card.

The Set and Costume Design are awesome. Anderson always has great sets and costumes in his movies. He has used miniatures for the sets, machinery and vehicles. Anderson also opted for costume design and animatronics for the creatures rather than flagrant misuse of CGI. I must say that the Aliens and the Predators have never looked better. Anderson puts the creatures back onto the set with the actors to good effect and this hasn't really been done since the first two Alien movies.

If you are a die-hard Alien and or Predator fan, and except nothing less than pure brilliance with no breaking of the rules that apply to these movies, then AVP is bound to make you stop breathing and explode. If you don't really care about any of the franchise before or you've been in a coma for 25 years and haven't seen any of the previous outings, then AVP may just work for you. If it's just a fight you want to see, AVP will not disappoint. On the level of King Kong vs. Godzilla it works best, but that's about it.
Crystal Clear Picture. The Cinematography is superb. Most of AVP is set in the dark or at night. With the exception of The Cave and Apocalypse Now REDUX, AVP has some of the best night shots I have seen in a while and none of the picture quality is compromised as a result. Vibrant neon type Colours are accentuated in contrast to the darkly lit scenes giving the film a slight comic book look. No complaints with image quality here.
Can't complain about the sound either. It's clear, constant and devoid of hiss or any other unauthorised noises polluting the audio tracks. Guns sound like big guns, lasers sound like big lasers and shoulder harness missile launchers sound real mean. Alien dribble and hisses have never sounded nastier. Lots of rocks, rubble and shrapnel pouring out of the speakers and if you have subs, be prepared to rumble. Beautiful.
Extra Features
Audio Commentary - Paul W.S. Anderson, Lance Henriksen and Sanaa Lathan.

Audio Commentary - By Alec Gillis, Tom Woodruff and John Bruno.

Alternate Opening Version of the Film - Duration 30 seconds. A showdown between Alien, Predator and Human in the year 1904 at a remote Antarctic whaling station, which is where the whole story is set.

Featurette: "Aliens Vs. Predator: making Of" - Duration 23 minutes. Featurette contains the usual behind the scenes footage from conception to completion. Paul Anderson explains his vision.

There are interviews with Mike Richardson from Dark Horse Comics explaining how the conception for the AVP comic franchise came about. John Bruno Visual Effects Supervisor (Titanic) goes over all the cool set pieces and miniatures (some of these miniatures dwarf me). Amalgamated Dynamics INC discusses their artistic creature work on the film. A few small chats with Lance. There is also some impressive storyboard artwork shown and it's a shame that the special features don't include a storyboard gallery.

Three deleted scenes: The other Mexico, O Sole Mio and Predator Humour. Not much cut out. There's only 2.58 seconds of deleted footage that's not going to be missed. The Deleted scenes weren't actually deleted but rather trimmed just a little.

Stills Gallery – Standard issue

Extensive comic book cover art gallery from Dark Horse Comics popular AVP franchise.

Additional Feature - There are two different Graphical User Interfaces for the menu options. The first GUI is the graphics of a Predator arm with the wrist utility. The wrist utility cover pops open and instead of a key pad for the Predator to type in the detonation sequence when things go wrong, it displays your menu options. The other GUI is of the Sacrificial Chamber that appears in the movie. Both GUI's are impressive. You may have to stick your copy of AVP in the player a few times before it will change graphics.
The Verdict
The cover art is great but the general packaging is standard no frills. No fancy special tin cover or booklet or any free plastic facehuggers. I reckon they should have given away a vile of sulphuric acid with each copy of AVP so you can feel the action while you watch or opt to put yourself out of your misery.

During the "Making of AVP" featurette Anderson claims he's the man to helm this project because he's been a big fan and has seen all the movies and has always wanted to make one and now he has and don't worry because he knows what makes these movies work and what doesn't make them work and he won't break the rules and won't let us down and…and…aaaargh!!! Rub salt in the wound won't you Mr Anderson.
Movie Score
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