Alien vs. Predator (2004) – By Matt Singer

For a movie based on a video game and a comic book,
Alien Versus Predator is shockingly talkative.
Once the action finally comes, it’s plentiful, but in
a brief ninety minute movie, the first third is all
wasteful yapping. This is Alien Versus
Predator
, we know the characters are
victims-in-waiting, why the hell are we wasting so
much time watching them on mountainsides and
archaeological digs? Bluntly, who gives a crap? Each
cast member has an easily recognizable physical
characteristic (a black guy, a skinny guy, a
short-haired blond girl), and most have thick foreign
accents (British, Scottish, Italian amongst others),
and no one’s name remains fixed in your memory more
than ten minutes after the credits. The amount of
effort expended on pointless exposition is
mind-boggling.

Though it takes us an eternity to get there, the
two horror franchises are brought together by a
mysterious pyramid, discovered two thousand feet below
the ice of Antarctica. Its presence is investigated
by the team of forgettable humans, brought together by
billionaire industrialist Charles Bishop Weyland
(Lance Hendrickson). Eventually, one of the humans,
Scruffy Italian Guy (Raoul Bova) discerns its origin:
thousands of years ago, the alien race known to
movielovers as the Predators came to earth, convinced
the primative earthlings of their godliness, and had
them build giant pyramids. Then they stuck aliens
(the aliens as far as we’re concerned) inside
the pyramids, and returned every hundred years to test
their mettle against the acid-blooded, big-headed
beasts. In October of 2004, when the human explorers
discover the pyramid, it is yet another one hunded
year cycle and they are smack dab in the middle of a
extra-terrestrial grudge match. Even without seeing
the movie, the summary might give you some pause. Why
would the Predators measure the time interval in earth
years and why one hundred of them? Scruffy Italian
Guy says the pyramid operates on the metric system –
the Predators invented that too?

Look no one wants Shakespeare from Alien Versus
Predator
. But the script, by director Paul W. S.
Anderson, needs a pacemaker. The introduction is
protracted and then the initial confrontations with
the Aliens and Predators are tame and abbreviated.
After making me care about Scruffy Italian Guy and
Skinny Scottish Guy (Ewen Brenner), Anderson doesn’t
even provide the pleasure of pondering the order of
each kill. Seconds after the Aliens appear and the
Predators touch down all but six of the humans are
dead, and after another scene, there are only three
left. More exasperatingly, Alien Versus
Predator
is rated PG-13, and excuses about the
lowered rating coming as a result of the excessive
alien goop replacing blood and gore is an obvious
cover; the violence is largely kept off-screen and
hidden by editing. The huge DVD market combined with
the current vogue for massive, teen-fueled opening
weekends is the true motivation; by getting younger
kids in the door the guaranteed high first week
returns (over $38 million). Any hardcore fans who
protest the weaker cut will be easily enticed by the
inevitable R-rated after market cut.

Attentive viewers might spot Frankenstein Meets
the Wolf Man
playing on a television screen early
in Alien Versus Predator. At least AVP
admits to its pedigree: a low-on-creativity sequel
made in the mold of FMtWM and other
disappointing grudge matches like King Kong Versus
Godzilla
. Such quirky meetings sound like fun,
but always come at the end or creative nadir of any
series, the entries with the lowest budgets and least
inspired creators.