Alien vs Predator: Requiem

January 20, 2008

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OUT: NOW 

Not a title that rolls off the tongue, is it? And it’s in no way linked to classical music I can assure you. Yet the match made in hell returns and Earth is the battleground for their beef, so soak up the carnage and try not to get too attached to any of the characters… it’s not that hard.

When Aliens cause the crash landing of a Predator spacecraft on Earth, an Alien/Predator hybrid leads a campaign of terror in a sleepy Colorado town (of course). A very specific cross-section of survivors, already with very boring problems of their own are forced together to escape the extra-terrestrial menace. This is dark stuff, because most of it happens at night. In the rain.

Let us meet this head on: we came for the fights. Leave the deep character histories and broken family trauma to films without the words ‘alien’, ‘predator’ and ‘versus’ and start sharpening those teeth. And if you really must force us to care about the humans (who are ironically insignificant in this intergalactic war) then do it properly. As it is, precious minutes of potential anhialtion are wasted on woefully weak sub-plots that do little to encourage sympathy for any of the shallow townspeople. These strands are not only dull and contrived but a constant thorn in the side of the unfolding monster war, producing a number of frustrating false-starts in the opening act. 

Thus the script proves a prime suspect in the banality of the film itself, coughing up some excruciating one-liners delivered with a similar lack of style and talent by no-name actors. Which wouldn’t be a problem in most cases, but the whole spin-off franchise is now visibly suffering in the abscence of an iconic human hero in a modern day Sigourney or Arnie. It does, however, make everyone dispensable, so you really can’t be sure who’s going to cop it next.

And soon enough the bodies start piling up, victims of either nemesis biting the dust in rather nasty ways. The behind-the-scenes design cockfight continues with the head honcho Predator hitting new heights in technology and brutality, and the ever-entertaining but no longer shocking alien chestbursters making a distasteful comeback. But whilst there are some inspired moments during the clashes and appropriate levels of gore, the bad light and bad weather don’t do anything for these creatures.

It’s a cunning mode of disguise for any shortcomings and lack of confidence in the CG effects, but it’s an obvious apology over the much-mentioned tightening of purse strings this time around.

The big selling point of this AVP re-hash is the hybrid that makes pulses race with its appearance in the opening sequence, but you’ll struggle to get a good look at it for the rest of the film. You’ll find yourself rooting for the Predators as they fight to protect their monopoly on exterminating humans, their intelligence and stylish headgear leeching itself  on to the current movie climate somewhat more succesffully than the dated Aliens.

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Highlights include an agonizing scene in a maternity ward and the ruthless bumping off of a frontline figure that pisses on your theories about how it will end. But brief flashes of quality don’t make for fully satisfying viewing, and AVPR is a movie-by-numbers dud. Even 24‘s Reiko Aylesworth fails to spice things up on her late arrival into the story, but her role is no stronger than the also-rans. Certainly one for 2am on Channel 5 in a year’s time, but we still don’t know what would really happen if these two legendary film beasts went head-to-head. It surely wouldn’t be this damp.              

THE CRUNCH

2 / 5  corpses dissolved        

     

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