Sunday, February 6, 2005

Liven up your Saturday with a quick video review!

Alien Vs. Predator
With a title like “Alien Vs. Predator,” you know not to expect Shakespeare.
Still, this monster mash-up of two venerable science fiction/horror movie franchises is not as bad as it sounds. Unfortunately, it’s not as good as it could be.
We join a team of scientists and adventurers hired by millionaire Bishop (Lance Henriksen) to investigate a strange structure found under the ice in Antarctica.
Little do these people realize they’ve stumbled upon a base created by the Predator race dating to the beginning of human civilization. And the Predators are coming back, with the even worse race of Aliens in tow.
There’s good potential in “AVP,” including the idea that Predators and Aliens have had a bloody relationship going back thousands of years.
Unfortunately, all this intriguing set-up basically boils down to a thin video game-style “hunt-and-shoot” storyline, lacking the slick style of the first two “Alien” movies or even the brawny machismo of the original “Predator.” With its PG-13 rating, it feels tamer than the truly scary original R-rated films.
The human characters are all fairly bland stereotypes, lacking the presence of Sigourney Weaver or Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Director Paul W. S. Anderson (“Resident Evil”) also shows a singularly inept eye for staging action, shrouding scenes in heavy darkness, utterly played out “Matrix” homages and rapid-fire editing that makes it impossible to tell what’s going on in some scenes. When did it become so hard to film two monsters brawling with some simple elegance?
Diehard fans of the series might be irked by some of the liberties taken (did Aliens only take a few seconds to “erupt” from their victims in the original films?), but as a matinee-style adventure, “AVP” is light enough to go down easily. I liked the bond formed between a female heroine (Sanaa Lathan) and a frightening Predator.
Still, the imaginary “Alien Vs. Predator” movies fanboys probably have had playing in their heads for years all would likely have been more original and professional in the end than this half-hearted cash-in.

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