Posted: 22 Aug 2004
Continuing in what's becoming the tradition of reviewing a movie at least a week after it's been in the theater, I'm here to talk about Alien Vs. Predator. One of these days we'll start getting pre-screen passes because we're famous and cool, and we'll deliver movie reviews before you even get to see it, but until then you're just going to have to deal with the fact that, for now, we're only human.
Another thing you'll need to deal with is that I'm planning on revealing large portions of the plot. We're talking major spoilers. I wouldn't read this unless (a) you've already seen it or (b) you don't care.
Well, then. I'll start with a bit of history to this idea. I was one of those kids that never got to see cool movies growing up. Now, don't get me wrong. I saw plenty of cool movies -- The Goonies, Gremlins, that kind of thing. By "cool," though, I mean those kickass movies that're rated R. I spent most of my formative years railing against the parental system, begging to be allowed to watch Alien, Commando, Predator, the Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the Thirteenth movies, anything. As such, I spent college and the first half of my twenties catching up on said films, namely the Alien movies. While I thought it was a kickass movie villain, I didn't get around to seeing Predator until a year or two ago, and Predator 2 until a couple months ago (which, of course, was a big goddamned mistake, but I'll get into that in a bit). I played AVP2 when it came out a couple years ago, and thought it was pretty sweet. Who'd have thought? Apparently a lot of people, as I later learned of the infamous alien skull glimpse as Danny Glover prowls around inside the Predator ship in Predator 2, and more recently that the idea was put forth in comic book form long before that scene.
Thus, as momentum for this movie built, I started getting terribly excited. I finally grabbed a copy of Predator 2 just to watch this scene, which proved to be the highlight of that atrocity to the franchise. I saw a couple theatrical previews for AVP this summer, and couldn't contain myself. I was stunned by just how cool this movie was going to be. I got free promotional posters at the comic shop down the street, I reveled in the recent buzz about both franchises, and I just couldn't wait. Well, of course, as timing goes I was in the woods of Maine the night AVP was released. Let me tell you, there's one movie theater in Damariscotta (about a half hour away from where I was). It has one screen, and it isn't showing anything made after the first quarter of 2004 any time soon. While driving out of Maine, I turned my phone back on and, among my voicemail, had a text message from Tyler. It read, to paraphrase, "saw avp. walked out. dont go." Of course, I was stunned. I decided to ignore it and not speak of it with him until I had my own proof.
That proof came Friday afternoon after I got out of work early. I made my way to Boston Common, sat with popcorn, and waited to be dazzled. The movie started, of that I'm certain. The rest is a blur of horror and outrage.
Do note that there are some cool scenes scattered throughout, so it's not a total wash. In no particular order, though, here are my problems with it. This, by the way, is where the spoilers come in. Earmuffs if you still plan on seeing it.
The dialog and acting were awful, especially in the first ten minutes where most of that stuff took place. You know the parts in Clerks where it's painfully obvious that Kevin Smith shot it for $28K in the store he worked in using his friends as extras and walk-ons? How about that scene with the guy who serves Dante the fine for selling cigarettes to a four-year-old? Yeah, that's what I'm talking about. That bad. I couldn't believe it. Right from there, I stopped blaming Tyler for having walked out.
The lead character, Lex, spends much time and energy explaining that she will not lead this ragtag group to Antarctica on the grounds that it's a godforsaken place where they'll all succumb to the elements and perish no matter how much training she can provide beforehand (which is proposed as none). Upon arrival, though, they tend to walk around in parkas and gloves, faces exposed, with no problems. In fact, even amusedly playing around with a penguin. Lex, herself, spends the last twenty minutes on the ice in nothing more than a long-sleeved blouse and pants, possibly longer after she's left by the Predators. What the fuck?
The Weyland-Yutani Company's satellite spotted the temple's deep-earth "power plant" firing up in preparation for the hunt. Weyland himself exclaims that he's "not the only one with a satellite over Antarctica." None of these satellites, though, seems able to notice the Predator ship orbiting the goddamned moon, nor do they notice the beam shot from said ship to tunnel through 2,000 feet of ice and whatever else is in its path. You'd think that'd have been noticed, too. Where the fuck is NASA? I don't care how good the Predators are with cloaking technology; that's just silly.
We're shown that the Predators came to Earth thousands of years ago and were worshipped as gods. Can someone explain to me why, in the past couple thousand years, they seem to have had little to no technological advancement? They look the same, they have the same weapons and armor, and they have the same ships. We puny humans, however, have gone on through several ages and ultimately reached space travel ourselves (albeit comparatively short-ranged). Along those lines, how and when did they lose their grip over the human denizens of this planet, anyway? Why isn't any of that in our recorded history? And what the hell was a Predator doing in the jungles of Central America, hunting humans, in 1987?
Lex befriends a Predator. Let me say that again: SHE BEFRIENDS A PREDATOR. It looked like they were going to make out after they escaped from the tunnel. Who wrote this?
While I'm on that one...the Predator, in an apparent show of gratitude and respect for her having saved its life, teaches her about Aliens. Look, their blood is acid! It dissolves brick! However, it does not dissolve their carapace! Here, stick your arm in its head and use it as a shield! Your arm will automagically NOT DISSOLVE! Fucking ridiculous. I'm serious. How does this get through QA and test audiences? Were drugs involved?
There were smaller things, like how Weyland's medicinal inhaler is apparently a flammable substance. Or the Aliens' accelerated life-cycle. Or how the Predators' self-destruct doohickies can manage to obliterate an alien infestation for miles around, but both Arnold Schwarzenegger and this Lex chick can easily survive by running a short distance away. That's unimportant, though. Perhaps the doohickies have a way to program the extent of the blast, or something. Who knows? It's movie magic!
Yes, there are many, many, many plot holes. Coupled with the stilted dialogue and acting, it's amazing this movie ever saw the light of day. Were I the head of the distribution company or what-have-you, my first words would have been "Look, we gave you Alien and Predator. How do you fuck that up?" but that's just me. To date it's grossed $63 million, though, so I guess that says something. I've still yet to talk to someone that liked this movie more than I did, though, and if you've read this far, you know how much I liked this movie.