Paging Paul W.S. Anderson for a shellacking…
Gimme a break. Look, I don’t expect any sort of greatness from Alien vs. Predator. It’s popcorn entertainment and money grubbery at it’s finest, sure, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a few minutes of cheap thrills from it. Unless…of course, you’re assuming someone with an attention span longer than ten seconds made it.
We begin with a group being assembled by Charles Weyland (yes, that Weyland of The Company) for purposes of an exploration in the Antarctic.
Alexa is some sort of lady who likes to scale ice. There’s an archaeologist in there too, somewhere. The rest of them seem to be people who show up and do people-y things while looking grim. Valuable assets, one and all.
I feel so sorry for Ewan Bremner being in this movie. I feel oddly affectionate toward him and have ever since seeing Trainspotting for the first time, but the acting well must really be dry, Ewan, or I hope you’re using that money to put your children through private school or something.
Weyland assembles his crack team of the best and the brightest in the Antarctic because his satellite has found a mysterious pyramid where only the walls are hot. He wants to explore this! Most everyone else is totally on board with this plan, too! A pyramid? In the Antarctic! Jeez, you just can’t make this stuff up. I bet Paul W.S. Anderson slapped himself heartily on the back for that one. How very clever, Paul.
The group of super smart (scientists? experts? analysts? what?) people debate for a while on who could have built such a thing. “Remember,” exclaims one nameless character, “Antarctica wasn’t always covered in ice”. When prompted the archaeologist points out that the “first civilization” built this pyramid. Really? Really. I know Hollywood takes all sorts of license and liberties with historical fact and I’m really the last girl to gripe about it. I also have been known to really stretch my disbelief for movies. I’m stretching my disbelief here and it certainly isn’t enough. Did the person who “developed” this concept pass high school history courses? I’m actually leaning toward the opinion that whoever “developed” this movie actually just thought his audience was too stupid and lazy to care.
The funniest thing, though, is that this pyramid is on an island in the Antarctic that’s the most inhospitable place known to man. “No man’s land,” intones Lance Henriksen ominously when questioned about it. Alexa continually freaks about it being in the middle of nowhere and staggeringly unsafe.
So what do they find when they get there?
An abandoned whaling village. Yes, that scary no man’s land of danger is just smack dab in the middle of inhospitable nowhere. Connect the dots here. While this may seem an inexplicable, random point to pull up, this is how the entire movie flows, contradiction after coincidence after faulty, whacko science explanation.
As they arrive, so do the Predators, and the team discovers a perfectly lasered hole right where they need to drill. How serendipitous, right? Surely they’d spend more than thirty seconds questioning such a remarkable technological feat, but who cares? Let’s just dive on in.
Of course, they have to explore said pyramid, but luckily for them, the ancient civilization neatly labeled all their rooms, so when they stumble upon a room and start stupidly setting off booby traps, they at least know what kind of room they’re in.
Behold, the sacrificial chamber!
The entire pyramid seems to be a combination of the Hellraiser puzzle box and some sort of Indiana Jones-esque maze of traps, so once someone sets it off, bad things happen.
Here is where we reach the slippery, downhill slide of my internal thought process, which went from Hmm, this movie is kind of this franchise’s equivalent of Speed 2 to Was this made for the Sci-Fi Channel? Because this could run back to back with Man-Thing.
These two dreadful souls are never named, only given a few random lines to at least pop them into the viewer’s head before they achieve their limited purpose on screen: as random proverbial cannon fodder for the face-hugging aliens.
From this point onward the movie becomes an orgy of terrible effects and even lamer ideas, with the survivors trying to make it through the shifting pyramid as the Predators hunt the xenomorphs (I’m using the correct geek-term for the aliens). See, the Predators have pretty much been using Earth as their own private deer lease for ages and ages and like to come to Earth, alien-impregnate a couple of humans, and then get down to killin’ some xenomorphs for their trophy skull collection. Yee-haw, these aren’t Arnie’s Predators, that’s for sure.
Somehow Alexa winds up as the final survivor, but it’s so ridiculous; she gets enlisted to help a Predator kill off the remaining xenomorphs. He even fashions her a spear and a shield out of the carcass of a blasted xenomorph. What a ladykiller.
This is pretty much the point of complete lobotomization of this movie for me. Are you kidding me with this shit? Predators and aliens are supposed to be equally scary to humans. Even then, come on. Having her join the sacred hunt? Having that flimsy piece of cardboard standup doubling as an “actress” join the Almighty Hunt of the Predators is beyond stupid. It’s wretched.
In reality, this movie was made purely for three or so minutes of footage. It’s the payoff, the entire reason why the movie exists: the simplistic premise of an alien fighting a Predator and who will win.
So when you’re given a guy in a rubber alien suit being flung into a column by a dude in a cheap looking Predator suit while the editing looks like it was made by an epileptic who just got done smoking mad amounts of crack, you surely do have every right to feel bitter, cheated and despondent.
The movie is nothing more from hereon out than a litany of chases, fights and utter pathetic stupidity that culminates in a queen alien being lured off a cliff into an iced over river. The moronic aspects of this are formidable; Alexa doesn’t even need survival gear – just a thin sweater from American Eagle – to withstand the cold of Antarctica, and the queen surely will be forever held by an icy river, because normally it just takes jettisoning one out into space to get rid of it permanently.
By the end, I was tired, I was exhausted and I felt like my IQ had dropped some, thereby rendering me unfit to drive, operate heavy machinery, or tie my own shoelaces. Ellen Ripley Alexa is not.
That is what finally careens me over the edge into depression at the end of this one. Someone has missed the point here of what indelibly made the Alien and Predator franchises successful and instead has poorly thrown together elements of the franchises with what the “younger” generation wants to see – or rather, what they believe the younger generation wants to see. The reason Alien and Predator are still scary is not necessarily that they appeal to modern sensibilities or need a convoluted backstory to explain their inherent terror, but like all good stories, they hearken to a deep-seated feeling of being hunted that is universally terrifying to all humanity in general. It is not the ultimate fan wank of of an alien fighting a predator that should be appealing; it’s really the terror we experience at watching aliens and Predators stalking humans mercilessly. This didn’t even start on the right foot, so it was doomed from the beginning, but it certainly doesn’t help that the resulting mess is so godforsaken and awfully executed that it’s hard not to feel revulsion looking at the end product, particularly if you’re like me and grew up adoring both franchises.
It’s not a sour taste in the mouth for those who love Alien and Predator and their varied sequels; it’s the taste of being spoon-fed garbage and being told you’ll like it.