johnlink ranks AVP: ALIEN VS. PREDATOR (2004)

Geez. I’m just getting old. I remember the hype about AVP coming out. That was more than a decade ago. It was very poorly received, and I remember not being overly impressed when I saw it in theaters. But I did watch all the other ALIENS films this year, and after subjecting myself to the last few in the SAW series, this really can’t be that bad, can it? Besides… much of the anger was the fact that this was made as a PG-13 film, and this shiny Blu Ray I have is an unrated version that is 10 minutes longer. So it must be great! Right?!?


I watched AVP: ALIEN VS. PREDATOR (2004) on 10.17.15. It was my second viewing of the film.

This movie basically starts the same way as JURASSIC PARK. A really rich guy – in this case, ALIEN uberboss Weyland (Lance Henriksen) is building a team of people to do something for science. He’s offering a bunch of money for an offer they can’t refuse, even if it might get them killed. They all helicopter in, only this case the destination is the Antarctic, not the Caribbean.

We are introduced to Alexa Woods (Sanaa Lathan) who is asked to lead an expedition half a mile into the ice to explore an underground structure which predates all known civilizations. She hems and haws for a bit, but we know she’s going to say yes because she is already our protagonist. So once the formalities are done, in they go.

This movie, then, becomes a war between some Aliens and some Predators inside that structure, with the humans doing all they can to survive the carnage. We are provided with plenty of humans to serve as extraterrestrial bait -and we know this early on, since three computer generated Predators sit around silently watching a holographic image of the humans wandering into the underground lair. It is really hard to get attached, even if the movie spends its first act -roughly the first half hour – trying to convince us that we should care about these characters.

The CGI effects in this movie are not good. Whereas the previous installments of both series had relied much more heavily on practical effects, this movie was all too happy to embrace the early 21st century CGI movement. The results are predators who move awkwardly, an alien queen who doesn’t feel all that menacing, and a bunch of blade-induced deaths which feel very much like they are created inside of a computer. The effects are not convincing, and it is a major reason why this is never a scary film.


This is also a movie which suffers due to its use of dramatic irony. We, as an audience, are very familiar with the fact that the predators only attack those with weapons and that the entire structure is not human in origin. But still, an hour into the film, here we are discovering Predator weapons with characters who are oblivious as to their purpose. So as a viewer, we know way more than any character knows, and we know it for a very long time. It makes for scene after scene where we know what is coming, but the characters do not. This would work if we cared at all about these characters, but we really don’t. Some of this is the acting, but most of it is the surface-level writing which never goes beyond “hey, look at these pictures of my kids.” By the end, this movie wants to put Woods in the same air as Ripley, but the movie doesn’t earn that comparison at all. That has almost naught to do with Lathan’s performance. AVP just left little room for the ‘H’.

The first battle between the titular characters actually does deliver the goods. Even if it is all a little special effects heavy, we at least feel as though we get a bunch of bang for our buck as the Predator uses up his weapon supply, but ultimately succumbs to an Alien. While this only furthers the point that we needn’t care at all about the humans in the film, at least there is some payoff.

The extra minutes in the extended addition do add a bit of blood, sure. But this was always a film that planned to be PG-13, so it is not like they shot a Tarantino flick and then toned it all down. Instead, we get the sense that they tried to walk a hard PG-13 rating and knew a few shots would have to be pulled. That doesn’t detract from the story, per se, though it certainly goes in hand in hand with lacking CGI to make this all feel like a fabricated world with no attachment to reality. Say what you will about the later ALIEN films or the campy PREDATOR, at least those movies felt like honest attempts to maintain a sense of fantastical realism.

This isn’t a horrendous movie. It’s just mostly unnecessary. I felt myself looking around my living room trying to figure out what I should clean at several different points. That doesn’t bode well for a movie which wants nothing more than to be unabashed entertainment. There is little reason to get up enough care to hate AVP, but it is also hard to imagine anyone really having a lot of love for it.




FINAL SCORE: 4.5 out of 10


~ by johnlink00 on October 17, 2015.

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