AVP: Alien vs Predator

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

I never thought a film would come along that would be so bad it would make Alien: Resurrection look like a masterpiece. But Paul W.S. Anderson has succeeded in performing that dark miracle, for Alien Vs. Predator (or AVP for short) is a complete stinker.

You know the film is in trouble about two minutes in. There's a scene where Alexa, the main character, is climbing an icefall. Her phone rings and she actually answers it. Then when she gets to the top, and while she's still talking, she sees the person on the other end of the line standing right before her next to a helicopter. However, in the establishing shot only a few seconds earlier there was no helicopter in sight. How the hell did it get there without her hearing it? Very stupid.

Just as stupid is another's character's ridiculous intelligence. There's an Italian archaeologist who's been hired by Bishop to look at this pyramid that's been found under the ice. No sooner has he been shown a poor computer model than he's proclaiming the style is a mixture of various ancient cultures and that this pyramid therefore must be the first pyramid ever made. He's quick. And he's just as quick in the pyramid itself. He reads hieroglyphics like he's reading the daily newspaper; he knows the meaning of each room that's contained in the pyramid ("this is the sacrificial chamber", he says after being in the room for about a second) and he even understands the building's inner workings. This last bit leads to another moment of absurdity. The archaeologist proclaims that the Aztecs used the metric system, therefore the moving parts of the pyramid must change every ten minutes. Since when did the metric system have anything to do with time? And since when did the Aztecs use minutes? Did they wear wristwatches?

But one of the worst scenes is when the archaeologist and Alexa get stuck in a room. Again the archaeologist reads the hieroglyphics like he's thumbing the daily paper and spins a yarn about the Predators teaching man how to build temples and create a civilisation. You see, Rastafarian aliens taught us everything we know. Kill me.

But for sheer stupidity there's one moment that trumps everything else. A character is in the sacrificial chamber and he drops a glow stick down into the room below. Then later we see Alexa and a couple of other people wander into this room. She looks at her GPS watch and proclaims that this room must be directly below the sacrificial chamber…with the glow stick just a couple of feet ahead of her! Cocking Christ almighty.

Just as annoying as all this, though, is Anderson's fanboy attempts to doff his dunce's cap at the previous Alien and Predator films. 'Look, it's Lance Henriksen! Listen, one of the characters says, "You are one ugly mother…" See, I made a satellite look like an Alien Queen. Oh, how I respect the heritage of these fine franchises.' Too bad he couldn't provide the film with a decent script, memorable characters or exciting action.

And I guess it's the action that hammers the final nail into the film's coffin. After all, it could have been at least tolerable if the action had been half-decent. Instead it's total crap. Take the fights between the Predators and the Aliens. They're more homoerotic than the naked fight between Oliver Reed and Alan Bates in Women in Love. Of course you don't get to see any floppy bits flapping about, but you do get to see an injured Alien flick lots of acid into the face of a Predator in a very camp manner with its tail (I can imagine Anderson patting himself on the back at how innovative he is). And there's another hilarious bit when an Alien is injured on the floor. It reminded me of a scene in The Simpsons where Homer is negotiating with Mr Burns to get the dental plan back. When Homer wins he lies down on the floor and walks circles on his side. The Alien in this film does the exact same thing. Stupid Alien.

But even the penguins in this film overact. There's a scene where Ewen Bremmer gets spooked in an abandoned whaling outpost. Of course, we get the standard 'BOO, there's someone behind you moment' and then when Spud insists that there's something else in the room with them, a penguin waddles out. It's more of an old ham than the Alien.

And I feel sorry for Ewan Bremmer. He gets to play some bland sap that keeps going on about his kids. Of course he dies, which is the only good thing he does. But the other characters are dull, too. Alexa, in particular, is a waste of space. I can imagine that Anderson thought he was shattering genre conventions by making the hero a black woman, but he completely forgot to add colour (ahem) to her character (and everyone else for that matter).

Almost as frustrating as this is the fact that we don't even get the pleasure of seeing these people die horribly; Anderson keeps violence at arms length – he cuts away from every screen death. And also, because his crap story requires it, people give birth to Aliens in about half an hour rather than the hours or days it used to take. Oh, and now facehuggers jump in bullet-time. Wait a second while I weep... And on top of that, the main Predator in this film has an incredibly goofy face. Somehow make-up has got worse over the last twenty years or so. But what made me laugh/cry the most was the final shot: dead Predator gives birth to Predi-Alien. As if the hunchback yellow turd Newborn Alien in Alien: Resurrection wasn't bad enough...

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  1. Totally agree, this was complete shit. For me it'll always be the Alien "trilogy", it stopped at 3.

    And by the way, Dental plan! Lisa needs braces... Dental plan! Lisa needs braces...