Alien vs. Predator (2004)

June 15, 2008 § Leave a comment

I seem to routinely walk out of action and horror films having been impressed with production values and stunts, but also knowing if a tenth of that effort had been put into the script, the film would have been far stronger. Studios often don’t understand that if a writer isn’t allowed to make the characters seem real and give them more than sassy one liners, we won’t care what happens to them, and the suspense suffers.

I didn’t expect much from this film, given that FOX seems to have reached the point Universal did when it made Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man in 1943. To my surprise, AVP does allow one or two small moments that attempt to introduce the characters. And as long as you’re not a hardcore fan stressing about how consistent this is with the other Alien films, and are just along for the ride, there are certainly a few neat moments here. It’s almost enough to make you wish those moments weren’t buried in many more scenes of bad dialogue, dark and close to incomprehensible action, characters (including the Lance Henrikson character, an actor with real presence) suddenly and pointlessly killed, or bizarre moments where our hero thinks it’s a swell idea to have some ritual facial scars given to her by a Predator.

Overall, not the absoutely horrible film I expected but given the quality of some of the other films in the Alien series, it’s more difficult to forgive this for being instantly forgettable entertainment. Writer and director Anderson claims in his commentary to be a huge fan of the earlier films, and points out various incredibly subtle tributes he included (including, it seems, a quick clip of Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man), yet some far more glaring problems seem to have gone overlooked. We go into horror and science-fiction films with the idea that in some vague way they’ll represent our ideas, dreams or nightmares brought to life. Roger Ebert states “Aliens are like dreams. We have bad ones when we’re troubled.” This film should’ve been something more than a few undeveloped ideas strung together with action set-pieces and a set of sudden, empty video-game deaths.

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