I remember when "Alien vs. Predator" was released in August 2004. Up until about a month and a half prior to that, I anticipated the crap out of that movie. It was putting together two violent Sci-Fi/Horror franchises and letting them duke it out. There was just one problem, and his name was Paul W.S. Anderson. His projects, although ambitious and visually appealing, never really did it for me when it came to story and character. "AVP" was no different. The plot was silly, the characters were forgettable (with the exception of Lance Henriksen), and of course the watered-down 'PG-13' rating. How do you pit these two iconic characters, both of which franchises boast graphic violence and hefty body counts, against each other with such a rating? Enter the Brothers Strause.
When I heard about this, that these two were behind the sequel and heavily stressed and guaranteed a hard 'R' rating, I admittedly got my hopes up. But that's the thing. The 'R' rating, the graphic violence, F-bombs, people skinned, melted, decapitated, impaled on walls, it's all there. But that seems like all the Strauses were aiming for. The movie screams, "Hey! This isn't that wussified Paul W.S. Anderson, 'tween-friendly crap!" Other than the higher body count and plenty of gore to go around, the story is, like its predecessor, focused on the humans. It's not that I have a problem with that. Look at the "Alien" films, especially the first two. Look at "Predator". A big thing that kept me interested and feeling for the characters is their situations; stuck in an area with slim chances of escaping with their lives, knowing that this creature, lurking in the shadows, is going to come for them. And it won't be pleasant when it does. Now, the characters in "AVP-R" (once again, Fox stresses the haaaaard 'R') are like something out of a WB show. Let me give you a brief rundown:
-The fresh out of jail ex-con who wears a constant weathered grimace on his face.
-His teenage social outcast brother whom he doesn't want to follow the same path. He's also got a crush on the high-school hottie.
-The above-mentioned hottie, who is dating the resident bullying jock. Make sure you're looking at her and not the clock.
-The bullying jock, dating the above-mentioned hottie. Don't crack a homosexual joke about this one. Why this guy didn't play Fred in the live-action "Scooby-Doo" is beyond me. Hangs with two nameless cronies.
-Cheap Ripley knock-off recently discharged from the army. Has an annoying daughter.
-The necessary town sheriff who's trying to keep everyone calm.
I'll get back to the characters in a minute, though.
Alright, the premise picks up directly where the first film left off. One of the Predators got impregnated by a Xenomorph (Alien) facehugger, it bursts out of him on the Predator ship, in a matter of minutes, we have a full-grown hybrid, or more popularly known as the PredAlien. I like calling it a hybrid. I know some don't think of it as a hybrid, but it's easier for me, it's my review, and dag-nabbit, that's what I'm calling it! It starts wreaking havoc, and eventually the ship crashes into a small Colorado town. One of the Predators manages to send out a distress call to the Predator homeworld, and one lone Predator comes to earth to basically clean up the mess. Aliens killing/impregnating townsfolk, Predator takes on the Aliens, jock-wipe throws social outcast's keys into a sewer, estranged mother tries to bond with her daughter, the social outcast makes out with the hot blonde after hours at their high school swimming pool... you get the picture.
If you're hoping to get characters/plotline reminiscent of "Aliens", just stay home. Order yourself a pizza and watch something else. This was like watching an episode of the O.C. Do you want to see a movie about a dork who is trying to get some lovin' from the girl of his dreams, when you paid to see an "Aliens vs. Predator" film? What's even more agitating is the fact that these characters aren't even fleshed out. They're cardboard cutouts. It feels as if the Brothers Strause only aspired to differentiate their movie from Anderson's by handing us a bigger body count. That's not what completely made the separate franchises work as well as they did (and I mentioned the reason earlier).
And how do the Strauses and screenwriter Shane Salerno stress how hardcore their movie is? They kill kids. And babies. And pregnant women. Some may call it awesome, some may think its extreme in a twisted, gnarly way, I thought it was a bit distasteful and it didn't win me over. It seemed heartless, even by an Alien/Predator viewpoint.
As far as the Aliens vs. Predator plot goes, there were a couple things that were pretty cool. The one lone Predator was a lot more effective than the three in the first film combined, and dished out some damage to Aliens and humans alike. I did like that there wasn't any of that Predator-teaming-up-with-a-human B.S. from the first. This particular Predator was here to clean up the mess, any human who happened to get in his way was grass. Plus he definitely had some cool weapons. But why just one? Was it budgetary reasons? The town was literally crawling with Xenomorphs and a hybrid who was impregnating (already pregnant) women, and we only have one single Predator coming down to represent? What gives?
The choreography was another problem. As with a lot of movies coming out these days, the pacing when it came to the fight scenes was frenetic, dizzying, and unfocused. I've heard people argue that it makes sense in terms of the frenzied nature of the fight. I just think it's lazy and sloppy. What type of "AVP" film is effective if you can't even see who's got the upper hand?
Bottom Line: If you want an Alien vs. Predator movie, you're going to be woefully disappointed, because this sure as heck is not one. If you want an episode of the O.C., just turn to FOX, or the WB, or whichever channel it comes on, or go see this if you've got that kind of cash to blow. Read a book, play a good board game (I recommend "Scene It"), do something that's fun and makes you happy. If you're a fan of these franchises, definitely stay home.This came out on Christmas day, we're well into January, so some of you may have already made the error of seeing this. I'll warn you earlier next time.