El Bicho's Hive

A Collection of Reviews Covering the Worlds of Art and Entertainment alongside other Snobbish Ramblings.

Sunday, August 15, 2004


Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson
Written by Paul W.S. Anderson and Shane Salerno
Based on characters by Dan O'Bannon & Ronald Shusett and Jim Thomas & John Thomas

This is a film that has been talked about for years ever since a scene in Predator 2 where the Predator’s trophy case had an Alien skull in it. An early script has been floating around so long it appeared in Chris Gore’s The 50 Greatest Movies Never Made back in 1999 and can be found online here. There were comic books by Dark Horse and a popular video game. The greenlight is rumored to have been given after the success of a similar film. After seeing the mess that was Freddy vs. Jason, or as I like to call it Keeping the Wife Happy vs. Common Sense, I didn’t hold much hope for yet another franchise crossover since the last good one I could remember is King Kong vs. Godzilla, and that includes the fact that they blew the ending. Who are they kidding?! Godzilla could easily beat the stuffing out of King Kong.

Maybe setting the bar low helped, but I thought the movie was worth seeing on the big screen at matinee prices. Sure, all aspects of the writing were bad, but I wasn’t going to see Shakespeare’s Alien vs. Predator.

The film started out slow and brainless as they tried to establish the plot and characters, but there’s nothing interesting or memorable to them except for one character that is a link to the Alien series. There was not one character I cared about so once they started getting picked off it almost went unnoticed. This was foolish on the part of the writers because a strong character would have given the audience someone to root for in this film and the potential sequels. They do have one lead character that follows in the Ripley tradition, but she’s pretty unforgettable. The only thing that made her unique is that she’s African American, which stands out because there aren’t too many black female action heroes. The dialogue was unsurprisingly horrible. It is just exposition to move the story along and explain things. They didn’t even have a good one-liner.

The plot started out as an intriguing idea in explaining how the Aliens and Predators meet and end up on Earth. This quickly disintegrates into fighting and special effects. The temple is silly as they run around a shifting maze of catacombs that changes every 10 minutes. There’s no way to tell what was going on. I do wish that the story had been set on another planet, though, because it’s obvious who has to win their first cinematic battle.

The direction was okay, but I hoped for something special in a film like this. Some of the shot selections looked silly such as when a Facehugger leaps and the camera spins around it Matrix-style. There was another goofy shot when a Predator and our hero running down a hall back lit and in slow motion.

That’s not to say there wasn’t some good action, plenty of explosions and fights. One cool shot is when a Predator catches a Chestburster and snaps its neck. The end shot is the best scene in the movie and sets up AVP2 if the film makes some money, which it will undoubtedly do, since the producers went soft and made the film PG-13. This is plain silly because R-rated films are making plenty of money nowadays. Besides, all previous Alien and Predator films were rated R, so where do they think the built-in audience is coming from??

The queen looked real good. They wisely chose to not use a lot of CGI instead using costumes and puppetry when they could. It’s a smart choice; the realism pays off and it looks great. It’s too bad the aliens have become mindless insects as opposed to the smart killing machines that they were in the Alien, but I suppose we have James Cameron and the success of Aliens to blame for that.

If you are a sci-fi fanatic who can read the Predator’s language or knows the biology of the Alien Queen, I can’t speak to your concerns. This movie may very well be filled with inconsistencies and transgressions against the rules set forth in the previous films and be an utter disappointment. If so, I feel your pain and anguish, and apologize for not being able to offer you any comfort, but if you are into these movies that much, I’m guessing you are used to it.