Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem
Dir- Brothers Strausse
2007- USA -20th Century Fox.
(This review is probably unnecessary, since most people have the sense to stay away from this garbage; I just need a public forum to vent)
In 1986, I had one of my most exhilarating experiences in the movies. That summer day on July 18th, James Cameron’s sequel to “Alien” known as “Aliens” hit the screens. I can remember vividly, going to the Neshaminy mall to the AMC there (when it was only 2 screens big) on a warm Friday afternoon, opening day. I had been eagerly awaiting this movie since I heard about it going into production the year before. After it was over I obsessed for many years about the movie and the series.
Back in those days I didn’t have any way to follow the process, so I had to buy magazines like “Starlog”, to keep me updated and fill my jones for images and discussion about the film. I even bought the novelization and read it cover to cover a month before, something I rarely do. It was all because I loved “Alien” so much. I must’ve seen “Alien” countless times in the early 80’s. I was severely traumatized as a teen due to the nightmarish imagery Mr.’s Scott and Giger had foisted upon me. I was convinced there was no way I or anyone could survive an encounter with such a beast. That monster tapped into my psych like no other before. I could never shake it, and still cant. Even as I’m older, and I understand the nightmarish, subliminal, psycho-sexual connotations of that design, I still love it. And admire it. It is a true original creature.
Anyhow, back to that day. I was geared up for this movie like nothing else. As the film unfurled, and even though I could recount the scenes from the book, I was still hooked in. It was a rollercoaster of a ride unlike any I had seen before. For 2 & 1/2 hours I was transported into another world, one which I didn’t think I would want to be in. But as I daydreamed for the next several years, yes indeed, I wanted to be a Colonial Marine, to wear the armor and carry the rifle, and fight off the Alien and to fight side by side with the likes of Ripley, Hicks, and Hudson. I went back every week that summer sometimes twice in a week, all told by the end of 1986 I had racked up about 12-15 viewings of the movie. One of my favorite memories was of the FLY/ALIEN double feature that Fox put out in October of that year. I bought the poster, the magazines, and even sought out the Alien Reebok shoes (known affectionately as ‘Alien Stompers’).
One of my prized possessions is the letter and autographed photo I received after writing to Mr. Cameron about his movie. I still have it. “Aliens” had it all: characters, pacing, action and drama, a narrative arc that flowed and fit with the original film. It went somewhere. And you could care about all of it, right down to the last marine as they get taken away to the hive to be cocooned in with the alien eggs. It was picture perfect filmmaking. Sigourney even got an Oscar nomination for playing Ripley. You knew you were in the hands of a genius, when Cameron made a movie.
Which brings us to now, 20+ years, and two Alien sequels later, we now have a new hybrid film: “Alien vs. Predator”. It was the fanboy’s dream back in 1990, after an in joke in the Predator 2 shows an Alien head in the spaceship, amongst his trophies, fans began to salivate for a showdown between these two iconic characters. Comic books were made, novels written, but the movies never took off. Sigourney Weaver once stated, and now seems so wise a choice, that if they did combine the two series she would be out and indeed she did leave after “Alien Resurrection”. Looking back I would stand by all 4 films in the “Alien” series. While neither of the last two films where as good as the first two, all the films had one common thread: unique and talented directors who made the material their own. You can’t deny that Ridley Scott, James Cameron, David Fincher or Jean Pierre Jeunet brought their sensibilities to the story. Each film is stamped with their style and also their shortcomings. This is what made the series most unpredictable and perhaps the most exciting.
This brings us to the review for the abomination known as “Alien vs. Predator: Requiem”. (Requiem for the fans?) A film so mind numbingly bad I don’t even know where to begin. Let’s start with the razor thin characters. In the earlier films of both Predator and Alien, you remember and even love some of the characters: Captain Dallas, Kane, Hicks, Hudson, Vasquez, Newt, Dutch, Dillon and Mac and of course Ripley. All were given moments to shine on film. Even just the few moments spent, we seemed to understand who they were and what they were about. There was a shorthand of characterization applied by the creators and it came thru to the audience. Not so with this new movie.
This film is set on modern day earth. Not the future, not in space which is another argument as far as timelines and mythology in the Alien movies that they are destroying.
(They are constantly trying to link this series to the original movies they come from. It’s all handled rather ham-fistedly.) Now I understand that the last two Alien films, and Predator 2, were not about strong characterization. Aside from Ripley, you only get to know the people in the film in as much as they become fodder for the Aliens to destroy. But still, those films had way more going on than this movie ever could. First off, in one of too may references from the earlier films, they name one of the leads “Dallas”. Are you kidding me? Then one of the other leads in the film IS A PIZZA DELIVERY BOY, really! Apparently the aliens need pizza too; in space no one can hear you call for pizza. The majority of the movie is spent with 3rd rate “Dawson’s Creek” pretty boys and girls engaged in high school teen drama. The bullies pick on the delivery boy because they like the same girl! Oooh!
I thought the films sunk to a low when Dan Hedaya was cast as a military leader in Alien Resurrection. This new movie makes that choice now seem Oscar worthy. I can’t tell you how much I did not care about any of these people. They even dare *try* to echo Ellen Ripley with one female (whose name I forgot, ‘natch) whom is an Iraqi war vet that has come home recently to reunite with her daughter. It doesn’t even come close to the Ripley/Newt relationship. This is garbage thru and thru. I know you don’t go into a movie like this, expecting to care about drama and characterizations, but you know what? They did it in Alien and Aliens, and even Predator. You gave a damn. Even that turd Paul Anderson had more memorable characters in ALL his films. And he sucks as far as that goes. They didn’t even try on this one.
Next up is the actual cinematography. Or what you can’t really see. The movie is shot so dark and edited so choppily, that it’s hard to see the creatures or even understand what you are looking at. Never mind even orienting yourself within the geography of the movie. Ridley Scott used this trick of hiding the monster, to great effect. Here it’s just shows such a lack of understanding and talent, it’s a shame. Tom Woodruff, the effects guy on all the Alien films since 1986, has his skills wasted as the directors and cinematographer don’t know how to light a scene in the dark. Daniel Pearl is the DP; he made his name with the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (original and remake) a film that is beautifully shot. He should know better. Next time turn a light on in the scene. I want to see these creatures. Heck, I just want to see anything!
Then there is the obvious rip offs off the previous movies scenes. Just a month ago I reviewed “Doomsday” a film which was made with much reverence for the films it also copied. Lifting whole scenes from “Aliens” as well, but done with better effect. This film, the Strausse Brothers and writer Shane Salerno have no respect for what came before. Literally lifting whole action sequences from the previous series from the APC escape in sublevel 3, to the underwater Alien chase in “Resurrection” also the Alien coming right up to Ripley’s face in “Alien 3”, all are used again here of course it is to much lesser effect. What the other films had was talent and imagination behind the camera, what’s on display here is just a teenagers idea of mimicking what they think is “cool”.
Moving on to the violence, and the so called “R” rating effect that was supposed to make this a better film then Anderson’s first crap-fest which was PG-13. The previous “Alien/Predator” films were no tea parties to say the least. The kills in the movies were part of the fun. But with this there is no joy here in seeing the creature work. I suppose they thought they were being edgy or clever with the kills in this movie. For some reason the new “Pred-Alien” (this is the new hybrid Alien that is created at the end of the first “AvP”) is able to impregnate people with multiple eggs and then have the chestburster explode with many more aliens. They do this and use the maternity ward of a hospital to make the point. They also kill off children with face huggers. While I am no prude, I don’t think this is at all clever or necessary to the story. Particularly the multiple alien births, they keep messing with the time line of the alien life-cycle in each of these movies, and it makes no sense.
For the longest time I thought Paul W.S. Anderson’s betrayal of the fans with the first “AvP” film was the worst cinematic slap in the face. But this second film was so bad I actually missed the first movie. Unbelievable! It made me miss a movie I hated! I suppose I could go on, but what’s the point? I know you all know how bad this is and if you even have an inkling of desire to see it my review won’t matter much. At one point on the extras on the disc (yes I even went thru these), one actor says how he can’t believe he’s in an “Alien” movie! Well, I have to break it to him, he’s not in an “Alien” movie. All the real “Alien” movies were made years ago, by much more talented people.
I heard the Strausse brothers say the first time they saw “Aliens” was on a hotel room TV while their parents were out of the room. And they flipped back and forth when it got too scary or they heard their parents approach. I don’t begrudge them because of their young age but I do say that’s not really “seeing” the movie, especially for the first time. They have no idea what came before them and how good it could be. Consider this the ranting of a broken hearted fan. I love the “Alien” series flaws and all. I can’t get with the cinematic rape of the series that this mess has turned it into. At least I can open up my “Alien” Quad DVD, and re-watch the good ones. One day the Alien (& Predator) will have a new series that is worthy of its earlier glory. In the mean time we are saddled with these dark times as a fan.