Horror / Sci-Fi / Action

Alien Vs. Predator

Distributed By: Sony Pictures

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

 

            “What if…”  That question has been asked numerous times in the comic book world.  What if Batman took on Superman?  What if Darth Vader had to duel Darth Maul?  What if Captain America had to take on the likes of The Incredible Hulk?  One of the most popular comic book match-ups sparked an entire series entitled Alien vs. Predator.  Although the Predator character had been matched against various characters in the past – Batman, Terminator – the Alien vs. Predator story seemed the most credible and the most exciting.

            When a movie, based on the comic book series, first hit the theaters, I was skeptical.  I just couldn’t believe that the comic book would be well-represented in a movie format.  Thus, I never saw Alien vs. Predator in the movie theater.  Everyone I knew who had seen it in the theater said they loved it, but I was still skeptical.  It wasn’t until a co-worker offered to lend me the movie when, upon discussing the upcoming sequel, he realized that I had never seen the original, that I decided to watch it.  After all, I’d seen every movie in the Alien series and even read some of the books that followed.  How could I say no?

            Alien vs. Predator takes place in the year 2004, long before the rest of the movies in the Alien series.  A spike in thermal activity is detected in Antarctica by a satellite belonging to – guess who? – Weyland Industries, the evil company present in every single Alien movie to date.  Company mogul Charles Bishop Weyland – yet another Bishop played by Lance Henriksen – discovers that there is more to the spike in thermal activity than first detected.  His satellite imagery enhancement reveals that, somewhere below an island in the Antarctic Ocean, lies an ancient pyramid.  Eager to receive credit for this find, Bishop gathers together a team consisting of archeologists, scientists and drilling experts.  Their guide is to be Alexa Woods (Sanaii Latham - Love and Basketball), a worldwide traveler with a reputation for being the best there is.  

            However, the team from Wayland Industries are not the only individuals interested in this site.  As the team soon discovers, the pyramid they uncover is not your everyday ordinary ancient artifact.  Hidden in the pyramids lowest level of chambers is a Queen Alien, revived by the thermal spike and ready to create more of her kind.  And it is this that has lead yet another team to the Antarctic Ocean site – a team of hunters known to us movie-goers as Predators.

            As an action-filled science fiction horror film, Alien vs. Predator is as good as it gets.  It’s quiet in all the right places so that the jump-factor is that much more intense when the action occurs.  The explanation of hunter vs. prey is credible as to the relationship of the Aliens and the Predators.  In fact, knowing that Aliens are not just hive creatures, but incredibly crafty and intelligent formidable opponents lends credibility to the seemingly unbelievable hunting and fighting abilities of the Predators.  The scenes in which the Predators and Aliens fight are incredible and action-packed.  It would seem that the special effects folks took their job seriously when recreating the fight scenes one would find in the comic book series.  The set was appropriately dark and I loved the idea of the temple shifting as time shifted.  New rooms opening up ever ten minutes or so added an extra challenge to the team of explorers struggling to survive the war between the Aliens and the Predators.

            However, the storyline itself is full of holes.  If Wayland Industries knew that an Alien hive existed on Earth, why go through all of the trouble trying to impregnate planetary colonists in space in an effort to study the creatures.  They could have simply done so here on Earth and spared themselves the extra time and money.  In Aliens, when Burke begs the Marines to bring back a live sample to study, he states that this is an entirely new species, never seen before by humans.  Alien vs. Predator renders this statement as wholly false and, although all of us who have seen Aliens would agree that Burke was certainly not always on the up-and-up, I think he truly believed that nobody had ever seen a species of this nature before.  Why else would Ellen Ripley be labeled a nutcase for having brought back a description of the “thing” that killed her crew?  If Wayland Industries knew if the Aliens before as Alien vs. Predator suggests, why shun Ripley’s description of the same creature found on another planet?

            There were some other things that bothered me.  As Sanaii Latham, someone who I never pictured as an action/horror star before this movie, races through the pyramid toward the end of the movie, the creators of the film suddenly forgot that the pyramid is supposed to shift every ten minutes.  The girl is fighting creatures, running through the pyramid, searching for a way out, as well as helping a fellow crew member escape the agony of an Alien birth, and yet, no pyramid-shifting.  What happened?  Did it suddenly get stuck?  Also, why didn't the movie makers invest some time in getting the viewers to be vested in the welfare of all of the characters.  Instead, we only really care what happens to Alexis and only because she seems to be the coolest of the characters available.

            Don’t get me wrong, Alien vs. Predator is a fun movie to watch if you take it at face value.  If you want to enjoy this film, you can’t care about the lousy acting and you certainly can’t overanalyze the film.  The ending gives you a definite impression that there will b a sequel.  Happily, the ending featured something that I had thought the movie's creators had forgotten all about - a nice touch.  Hopefully, if you view the DVD version, you’ll have an opportunity to check out the interesting extras.  Supposedly, there is a Making of the Movie featurette, but I never found it.  There are a couple of extras – I have no idea why they even bothered adding these in.  There are also some extras I couldn’t check out since I don’t have a DVD player in my pc.  However, I really found the comic book art section enjoyable.  It was nice to see how the comic evolved.

            So, if you just want to enjoy a good rock ‘em, sock ‘em, science fiction action/horror flick, Alien vs. Predator is right for you.  As a stand alone, the story is perfect.  But, if you are a die-hard Alien fan, the story will irk you if you overanalyze things.  Just sit back and enjoy the fun and don’t think too much about the discrepancies and you’ll enjoy this movie just fine.


 


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