It's just a very poor film with an admittedly interesting and quite original concept, and that for me is the most disappointing thing. The idea of Aliens and Predators fighting it out in a dark, mysterious, shape shifting pyramid is an appealing idea and far removed from anything we've seen before. But aside from this core idea, everything else is terrible.
First off, the present day earth setting is completely pointless. I believe this was John Davis' wish and part of the reason he ended up going with Paul Anderson's script is because it fitted this idea. Straight away this is a kick in the teeth to the character of Ripley who lost everything precious to her and even her own life in an effort to prevent the alien ever reaching Earth. But then again, the Earth setting is a false threat because the story is set 2000 feet underground an island off the coast of Antarctica, meaning the Aliens have literally no way of ever reaching civilisation. Paul Anderson even said himself that his story was set in Antarctica because it was the closest thing on Earth to a hostile alien planet, which kind of begs the question why it wasn't just set on an alien planet to begin with. Throughout the film, Lex whinges about them not letting the alien reach the surface otherwise 'everything everwhere could die'. This threat is meaningless and therefore as an audience we simply don't care.
The characters are all poor, which is a common trait of any Paul Anderson script. People have already mentioned how dull and uninteresting they are and therefore we simply don't care. Some of their actions are ridiculous too. Can someone tell me how Quinn, in the middle of a blazing snowstorm at night, somehow spots a fully-clocked Celtic Predator standing unmoving on a roof 30 feet above him?
The creatures. I thoroughly dislike ADI's work in this franchise. Their Predators are just beyond awful and are just completely laughable when compared to P1 and P2. They are far too bulky to the point of looking overweight and you can clearly see their wrist blades and dreadlocks are made of rubber. They are so far removed from what came before it's untrue. Why was the vision changed? Why the triple heart beat removed and the sound effects changed? They are such a staple trait of the character. When the Predators run in this film they look as though they are going to keel over from a heart attack. Where is the cunning, graceful and imposing creature that stalked and cut down Dillon from P1? These creatures are not even distant relatives. And of course, I'm not even going to mention their faces or the ridiculously big plasma casters.
As for the Alien, again I'm not a fan of ADI's work and there is too much needless CGI when practical effects could have been used.
The pacing. Sil was spot on with his reasoning. 55 minutes of slow burn is all well and good but then the movie literally ends 30 minutes later just as it gets started. And to have 55 minutes of slow burn and still not give a shit about any of the characters takes some doing.
The team up. It just doesn't work. The concept may be fine on a comic book page, but it should be kept off the screen in my opinion.
The fights. The main fight between Celtic and Grid just looked like two piss heads having a brawl in a back alleyway. It was so poorly choreographed.
Lack of blood. Then CGI blood. PG-13 rating.
And for all the hate that AVPR deservedly gets, the story of aliens infecting a present day American subburb with teenagers running round with guns is a result of that pointless present-day earth setting the first film gave us.
WHAT IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN. (Wishful thinking I know)
Set about 30 years after Alien 3. WY satellites are actively looking for traces of the alien. The heat bloom should have been found from a pyramid located deep beneath a jungle planet with plenty of nearby human colonies so that the threat of the alien getting out is actually valid.
Charles Bishop Weyland should have been Michael Bishop.
The archeologists should have been accompanied by colonial marines.
Giger's Alien vs. Winston's Predator.
Film 60 minutes longer.