Some of you may remember I did a review of AvP in August 2004 when the film came out. Well, this one is different to that one and hopefully a little more structured.
Set in the early 21st century on Earth, Charles Weyland, an industrialist billionaire, leads an archaeological expedition in Antarctica. Using thermal imaging satellites, Weyland believes to have discovered the ruins of an ancient pyramid temple that pre-dates the Egyptian and Aztec pyramids buried under the ice. Once inside, the team finds the remains of humans with holes in the rib cage and the remains of facehuggers, meaning that the possibility of the temple being uninhabited is very unlikely. To make matters worse, a group of teenage Predators are coming to the temple to perform a coming-of-age ritual that involves fighting to the death with the aliens. Soon, it becomes clear that only one species is getting out alive.
AvP Alien vs Predator Movie Review
Okay, let me introduce myself. I started AvPGalaxy in 2002 and I’m a big fan of Alien and Predator. A lot of people know that AvPGalaxy was the place to be for AvP Movie news in 2004 and I was practically reporting news every day up until its demise. I guess I never thought for a moment that AvP could turn out like it did. It looked great in the trailers but it wasn’t until Fox announced the PG13 rating, did my enthusiasm start to fall.
Firstly, the story does actually have so much potential, at least I thought it did. Put this into practice, however, and what do we get? A huge disappointment in every aspect. One of the many problems with the film is the writing. Simply put, Paul Anderson is not a writer, not a very good one at least. It takes us 30 minutes before we get to any action. In these first 30 minutes though, nothing is happening. Characterisation is really non existent in this picture. The dialogue is also pretty bad. Most can be overlooked but some of them were classic lines taken out of Predator and ruined because of the PG13 rating which I’ll talk about soon.
Like I said above, the lack of any characterisation doesn’t make you care about the characters at all. Acting is pretty bad. I have to admit, when I first saw the film, I thought Sanaa Lathan was truly terrible. I don’t think she’s that bad having watched it again but there’s one scene towards the end when she says to the Predator, “Good, I hope it kills every f**king one of them”. I do cringe when I hear that because you can tell she’s forcing herself to say the swear word. Fan-favourite, Lance Henriksen, also returned in AvP to play Weyland. I liked the idea originally to include him but I personally think it was a huge mistake. It raised too many continuity questions for Alien 3 among other things. I guess the character I liked the most was Stafford. He was underused and was killed far too quickly in my opinion.
Another problem I have story-wise is that Paul Anderson stole so many ideas from other places and glued them together for use on AvP. Not in a good way. AvP was essentially based on one of the early AvP comics where the lead person teams up with a Predator. Many other things were taken from comics such as blooding rituals and rite of passage. I think it would have been best if all this stuff was just kept out of the film. I’m sure it’s nice for people who like the comics but for somebody like me who doesn’t, it just doesn’t flow well. Paul Anderson also took many ideas from the Alien and Predator films. Good in theory, bad in practice. Some of them didn’t fit in with the film while others were ruined by the rating.
And yes, we finally come to the rating. Having 6 R-Rated films already, it came as a bit of a shock to learn that AvP was PG13. The most disappointing thing is that Paul Anderson led everybody to believe it would be rated R early in production when he knew all along it would be PG13. So does PG13 ruin the film? Yes, I think it does. Despite all the other problems, the PG13 rating was the main criticism everybody had with the film. Most human death sequences are implied off screen. There’s hardly any blood on the people that are killed on screen. The first Chestburster scene is pretty bad because of the lack of blood. The Chestburster that emerges from Sebastian later on in the film is seen through predator vision but when he catches it, there’s no blood at all on the Chestburster. The PG13 not only ruins the death sequences but also the dialogue. Arnie’s classic line in Predator: “You’re one ugly motherf**ker”. This was almost said twice in the film. Once by Verheiden when he encounters an Alien when he says: “You ugly son of a bitch”. Lex later almost says the line but the ending was cut off. Of course, if it was rated R, it still wouldn’t help any of the other bad points in this film but it would have made it a little more bearable.
What I Liked
I really liked the special effects in AvP. For the most part, the effects are pretty good. The Queen Alien was great to watch. I wasn’t sure about the CGI aliens though. I thought they could have done with a bit of work. The animatronic aliens were pretty good though and I never really had any problems with the alien designs. The set designs were excellent and the pyramid looked very realistic. The main Alien-Predator fight scene was great to watch while it lasted. Another thing I liked was the Predator masks. The special effects crew did a good job creating these in my opinion.
What I Didn’t Like
I could go on forever telling people what I didn’t like in AvP but I’ll try and keep it short. I’ve already talked about the writing, dialogue, acting and rating already so I won’t mention those. I think one of the main criticisms on the Alien side of it is the life cycle. It was clear to everybody that it had been sped up for story purposes. I suppose one of the momentous shots in the film is when the Grid Alien lifts ones of the Predators up in the air but how could a regular Alien have such a long tale that’s so strong like that? Continuity-wise, Paul Anderson ignored what we found out in Aliens that the creatures had never been discovered in over 300 surveyed worlds. What will happen to Lex? What will she say?
Okay, now, for the Predators. Personally, I think Paul Anderson ruined the Predators with this film. He changed almost everything about them. Not in a good way either. Firstly, the Predators are more bulky and less stealthy than we’ve seen before in the other two Predator films. I guess this contributes to the poor Predator designs. The main criticism is the poor facial designs. When the Predator removed its mask at the end of the film, it looked fake – almost like an action figure. The next problem is that so much of the Predator technology has been altered. For example, the Predator ship looked entirely different to the ship in Predator 2 and looked more or less man-made. Predator weapons such as the wristblades and shoulder cannons have been much bigger.
The Predator’s human vision mode has changed entirely to an orange colour. I really don’t understand why this was changed in the first place. I think one of the major problems with this film is that the director took so many ideas from a comic that just don’t work in a movie. The team-up for instance was just plain ridiculous. The blooding scars as well came from the comics. Now, I admit that I’m more of a Predator fan than an Alien fan but I really hate the way the Predators were portrayed in the film. They were portrayed as weak throughout. Two Predators in the space of a few minutes were killed by the same Alien. There’s pretty much countless more problems relating to the Predators but I have to draw a line somewhere.
Even though this is a website dedicated to Alien and Predator, I’m not going to lie to people and say I loved the film because I didn’t. I really hate what Paul Anderson and Fox have done to the series with this film. When I first watched AvP in August 2004, I was pretty much devastated by it but I watched it a second time a few days ago (in May 2006) and I didn’t think it was all that bad. I can’t ignore the flaws though. Out of all the Alien and Predator films, I’d rank AvP at the bottom. If Fox had given AvP a decent budget, a decent director and a decent script, AvP could have been one hell of a film. Instead, Fox opted for the quickest route and used the exact opposite. The film could have been so much more. It’s sad to see two great series’ treated this way.