Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Aliens versus Predator: Requiem

I knew going in this was going to be bad. The Onion, who I usually trust, gave this an F, which surprised me since they are usually pretty stingy with those. (They rely heavily on the "gentleman's F" -- the D). I sort of liked the previous Alien versus Predator movie, which I thought did a pretty good job within the parameters of the PG-13 rating -- the buried temple with hidden passages had a kind of goofy boy's adventure novel exuberance, and I thought it was cute how the human became the "sidekick" rather than the savior. Not a good movie really, but I found a lot of reasons to cut it some slack.

If you were looking for the essence of the word "perfunctory" AVPR would be a good place to start. At 94 minutes long it is so boring you cannot believe you are not sitting through an extended cut of My Dinner with Andre. I understand that all movies have the potential to be boring, but I felt that there was some kind of lock on how boring a Predator-Alien movie could be, as opposed to say, a British period piece. You feel that on a scale of 1 to 10, one being the most boring, a monster movie that has inherited some good basic creature designs, and has a pretty good mythos to draw on, could not really get below a 3. And yet here is Alien versus Predator: Requiem. The most boring movie I have ever seen. I cannot put my finger on what was really the cause. The humans are the most awful kind of cardboard cutouts, but I feel like I have seen movies with cardboard cutout characters that were bad movies of course, but still not anywhere near this purely "check your watch every five minutes" dull. From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money, for example. One person I saw it with claimed the problem was long shots, but I am not sure that was it. I know one thing that hurt a lot was the rigorous insistence in the first half of the movie to the structure "A scene with the creatures, a scene with the people" so that when you cut from an alien to something in a child's bed, you know the thing in the bed is a fake-out -- it was just her own hand reaching for something on the night-stand. It HAS to be a fake-out because the film cannot break from the patterns it establishes.

I think at least one culprit is the total lack of respect for both the Aliens and the Predators. It just feels like the directors -- and yes it actually took two people to direct this movie -- took everything for granted. You know what the monsters are so no effort is put into reintroducing them. The monsters worked before, so no effort is put into rethinking them. The Predator-Alien hybrid is barely distinguishable from the Predator or the Aliens. I actually thought at one point it was killed, and realized later that that fight was just between the Predator and a regular Alien. And the Predator-Alien does nothing new. It is just maybe a little bigger. In the fights they just lumber after one another, and it is assumed that is interesting enough, even though you can barely tell who is who, or see anything that is going on. The Predator does not seem to be very skilled. The aliens do not seem more threatening than large tigers. There is no thought given to the specifics of the creatures at play.

The film has a lot of problems but it is the boredom it causes that is just fantastic. Algebra-class level dull. The next film could be called Alien Versus Predator: The Sailboat Race, and it would be better just for the absurdity.

Movies like this make me appreciate Southland Tales so much more. Whatever went wrong there, Southland Tales is at least up to something, is at least pushing the edges of something. If I said it was boring that is only because too many good movies made me forget what the word properly meant.


Anonymous said...

OMG...I couldn't agree with anymore. You stated it well.

I keep thinking to myself, this would have been a much better even if it was muted. Who talks like that, I kept thinking to myself...especially those set up scenes between the younger cast.

The writers attempts at being clever, just irked the hell out of me. It would have been a much better without the dialogue. That's my 2 cents, but worth the $11.00 that is saves people from seeing this movie. Don't be fooled by the trailer like I was.

-- Richard (The Wonder Twin on MySpace)

Marc Caputo said...

"Algebra-class level dull"

Dude, I teach algebra. It's all in the delivery.

And I deliver.

"It's the singer, not the song - that makes the music move along."
- "Join Together", The Who

Madd_Hadder said...

My inability to tell any of the creatures apart from each other made this one of the worst movie going experiences in 2007.

Anonymous said...

I guess I'll play the devil's advocate on this one – especially because I enjoyed Aliens Versus Predator: Requiem (henceforth referred to as AVPR).

Geoff, on one hand, I agree with your assessment that the film was boring – but only during the time it spent with the human characters. The film certainly could have used a narrative chiropractor to straighten out the plot and infuse at least one of the human characters with enough personality to make them sympathetic. The Pred-alien could have used a few more innovations, but by the end of the film, it is shown to be formidable enough. Pred-alien has the best dreadlocks in the film so what more could one ask for? I'm joking, of course. As you stated – the directors could have tried to reintroduce the creatures to us in an intriguing manner. On the other hand – I found the Predator and Aliens fight scenes to be highly entertaining. I thought the previous entry in the series was extremely tedious and filled with too many watching-the-humans scenes. I don't want to see bland humans crawling around preteen grubs on an episode of Nickelodeon's the Hidden Temple. The movie is called Aliens Versus Predator, so I want to see Predators fighting Aliens in the gory Grand Guignol tradition of their celluloid progenitors. Gore was part of the claim to fame of both franchises, Alien and Predator. The original Alien film featured the now iconic (SPOILER) chest bursting scene with William Hurt (SPOILER ENDS). Predator featured a scene with ten bloody and skinless human bodies hung upside down. Gore and violence are part and parcel of these respective universes. On that premise alone, AVPR delivers. I'm going to badly paraphrase Alfred Hitchcock on his comment that the purest form of the motion picture was the “chase scene.” He felt that motion pictures best featured movement and motion and that the chase scene was the purest actualization of that motion. I like to think the chase scene translates to superhero films when we see them fighting, flying or using their powers. In action films, we see the chase scene play out in the fight scenes and ballistic displays. In horror films, we see the chase scene play out as part of the chase – and the final kill. When I sit down to see a movie called Aliens vs Predator – I don't want to see sympathetic human characters that I care about. Ripley and Dutch are long dead to these franchises by now and there is simply no point in replacing them with painfully weaker analogues. I want to see the chase scene played out in full on chest bursting, skull crushing view in the violent language of Predators and Aliens. I made a silent pact with the film as the first ten minutes played out. I agreed to sit through the scenes with the humans as long as the film delivered on the violent Predator and Alien action. In that regard, AVPR delivered in bloody albeit ofttimes CGI glory. I enjoyed the pure unbridled carnage of the film.


I love the opening scene with the Predator gearing up. It doesn't go on quite as long as the Batman and Robin rubber nipple and shiny ass shots from Batman and Robin, but the directors keep it short and succinct. Pred-alien causes the Predator ship to crash on Earth. Back on the Predator home world, our lead Predator receives the distress signal. He grabs his weapons and his armor, jumps in the ship and speeds away to Earth. He doesn't waste time saying good bye to his loved ones. He doesn't gather the posse to hunt the Aliens. No. The collection of Alien skulls in his trophy room tell us that this Predator is thrilled by the anticipation of The Hunt. Aliens are his favorite prey. The challenge of The Hunt is on. Humans. Aliens. One Bad Ass Predator.

I loved seeing the toddler's face-hugging and his subsequent chest-bursting scene. This scene within the first five minutes – sets the tone for what is to come ahead – and warns you that this time around AVPR is not shackled by a PG-13 rating. This time around, not even little kids are safe. Now, where's Newt? Was I the only kid that wanted to see Newt get her head ripped off in the original sequel? But I digress. . .

This will have to be a messy collection of kill scenes that I enjoyed: Humans skinned and hung upside down. Aliens have their heads variously shot or chopped off by the Predator. Predator dumps blue stuff on all the alien waste and by-products. The teeny-bopper chick gets speared by the Predator's bladed glaive. In disgusting fashion, the pregnant lady gets re-impregnated by the aliens. Then there's the “birthing” scene in the hospital. Yuck. Yikes. Lastly, I loved seeing Aliens swarm through the streets by the end of the film.


AVPR delivered on every disgusting video game cut scene that I ever wanted to see – in full gory detail. AVP plays out like a computer generated video game. It is flashy and beautifully shot. However, without the interactivity of a video game it plays out in predictable and boring fashion. The previous director, Paul WS Anderson, made the mistake of thinking we cared about the humans portrayed in the film. AVP limits portraying it's kills to a shot of an alien or predator about to strike, then a quick cut to a spray of blood on the wall, and then cut to scenes of talking humans. AVPR drops you in the middle of an outbreak of Aliens and we get to watch a Predator hack his bloody path through them. We don't have to suffer through near as much human babble as in the preceding film. We spend as much time with the Predator as we do with the humans. The only thing that would have made it better would be to drop the human subplots entirely. However, their inclusion sets us up for a variety of pay-off kill scenes – as we are never quite sure which ones will survive and which ones will end up as meat on a stick. For fans of carnage and gore, AVPR is worth watching. Aliens Versus Predator: Requiem is enjoyable trash and nothing more.

I loved it.


(Who can't seem to log in today)

Geoff Klock said...

Streebo -- I don't know man. In your post on grindhouse you were mad that Tarantino said he would deliver something, and then did not. Here you are happy AVPR delivered what it said it would, and I don't basically disagree with you, except it did it only technically, like if you ordered a steak at a nice resturant and they just injected you with the protein, then claimed that it is the same thing.

Streebo said...


Geoff, I don't expect to change your mind. I'm just weighing in on how and why I enjoyed the film on a purely visceral level. In fact, I would really like to see it again to see how the film stands up to repeated viewings.

Geoff Klock said...

Streebo: I do not know how many times you would have to KILL ME before I watched AVPR again, but it would be at least a couple of times.

Streebo said...

Geoff: I figured you were higher on the karmic wheel than that - but I get your meaning. So I take it you won't be buying the UNRATED DVD when it comes out in March? I easily hated AVP as much as you dislike AVPR - but I was willing to buy the DVD out of the $5 previously-viewed bin and gave it another chance. My initial assessment of AVP stands. The film was weak sauce and is no doubt a directly responsible for my zealous acceptance of the excesses of AVPR. I can't remember the author at the moment - but I remember Morrison using this in the Invisibles, "nothing exceeds like excess."

Streebo said...

Yay! I win. AVPR is the best movie EVAAA!*cheers*