Alien vs. Predator, as a concept, is one of the few franchise crossovers that I truly believe works. This has been immensely obvious from its very inception in how well the comics were received and sold and it branched out further into very successful video games. I think I would not be alone in saying that I don’t think the film medium has done the idea justice yet. I do think Paul Anderson did a commendable job with the restrictions imposed upon him but the film was still a major disappointment that was not what a lot of us wanted.
And then there is Aliens vs. Predator – Requiem. What a complete wreck of a film. In near enough every single conceivable way. But let’s not devote the entire article to dissecting that particular corpse. AvP – Requiem doesn’t have to be the end of Aliens vs. Predator on the big screen though. Given Hollywood’s penchant for “re-vitalizing” film franchises I think there’s still a very strong chance to see a new sequel/reboot such as we had with Predators. I was thinking about where the previous films went wrong and what I would like to see in any potential Aliens vs. Predator film and decided to share it with you.
Set It In The Future!
As far as I’m concerned, the first big mistake Paul Anderson’s Alien vs. Predator made was setting the film on modern day Earth. Whilst I think he did a good job in taking the Aliens to one of the most remote and hostile places on Earth, it completely negates the point of the Alien films and Ripley’s constant sacrifices to ensure the Aliens never come to our homeworld. It was a desire on the part of producer John Davis to keep the film rooted in the Predator franchise that resulted in this.
However, since Aliens vs. Predator’s conception it was always rooted in the time and setting of the Alien films and this tradition carried across into the games. Look at the popular comics and games and you will find them set on far off colonies, with spaceships and Colonial Marines.
What I’d really like to see – and I’m positive many of us feel the same – is the return of Colonial Marines. I want to see Pulse Rifles firing into the cloaked figure of the Predators.
Many years ago Peter Briggs wrote an adaptation of Randy Stradley’s original Aliens vs. Predator comic on spec and it made the rounds. It’s a draft I’m quite fond of. However, it was something in one of his never-to-see-the-light-of-day additional drafts that I’m dying to see – zero gravity combat with the Aliens and Predator.
The opening of the second draft would have seen Predators board a derelict Predator vessel and engage in combat with Aliens in zero gravity. Ever since I saw that detail, I’ve imagined the sight of Aliens crawling along all the surfaces, unencumbered by the lack of gravity, bearing down on the Predators using their own technology to navigate the dead spacecraft.
A future setting would also allow us to explore something that we would probably never get to see in an Alien film: ship to ship combat. I would love to see a Colonial Marine vessel square off against a Predator ship.
Just imagine how amazing it would look seeing a Conestoga-class ship (granted it’s primarily a carrier ship) or a similar ship slicing through the depths of space. Back lit by some gorgeous space scenery it unleashes a barrage of missile fire against a Predator ship coming out of cloak,. Its energy weapons response in kind, intercepting the incoming missiles and burning through the hull plating of the Colonial Marine ship.
I think a really interesting approach to take for ship-to-combat would be a naval like approach, utilizing broadsiding combat. I’m thinking of something like in Battlestar Galactica or Halo (a series that derives a lot from the Aliens and Predator series) with big capital ships slugging it out.
It would also be a good opportunity to include some advancements in the weaponry of the Colonial Marines. As terrible as the game was, I did really like the Phased Plasma Pulse Rifle in Aliens: Colonial Marines. I would love to see them square off against the Predators with that kind of technology.
Return to the Original Designs
As the Alien series progressed, the designs of the Aliens moved further away from H.R Giger’s classic until we arrived at Alien Resurrection where the design was drastically different. Gone were the biomechanical aspects that made the original so unique and fascinating. The design changes made sense within the context of the film – they were the results of a DNA mixture between human and Alien.
Paul Anderson’s Alien vs. Predator reused these bodies as a cost saving exercise. Granted, he had them painted black instead of tan but there was no contextual reason to use the design. It is often believed that Paul Anderson stated this was due to the Predator interfering with the Alien hormones but that was nonsense written some an anonymous user on IMDB many years ago and since adopted by many. There was no reason for it other than cost.
Roll along Aliens vs. Predator – Requiem and we return to those bodies – again, cost – but this time we’re given a different head! The idea was that it would look more reminiscent of the Aliens design but the overbite and the huge necks really ruined that appearance for me.
What I would like to see for any new film would be a return to the originals. The majority of fans would pick either Alien or Aliens as their favourite version of the creature. And for good reason. They’re fantastic designs.
Understandably some of the suits in Aliens were more simplified – leotards with bits of Alien glued on – allowing for more mobility during the scenes where gymnasts were leaping around. Our very own Valaquen runs a fantastic blog called Strange Shapes and features a fantastic article about the creation of the suits for Aliens.
He talks about the differences between the original Alien suit and the stunt suits as worn in Aliens: “When they looked at the suit they found it was littered with bottle caps, macaroni pieces, oysters, bones, as well as pieces of a Rolls-Royce, all embedded onto the suit and sprayed black. For their own suits, instead of tacking and sewing pieces onto the rubber, they opted to form the tubing and pipes as small cohesive wholes or plates that could simply be glued onto the spandex undersuits in easy-to-fit chunks.”
With the advent of more realistic CGI, the ability to bring back H.R Giger’s Alien with ease of movement and the grace that Ridley Scott always wanted would be fantastic. One of my favourite sights in Alien Isolation is seeing the Alien slink down from the overhead vents, all grace and deadliness. Imagine seeing that on the big screen, it would be a jaw-dropping sight.
That’s not the say the creature should be entirely replaced digitally. I just mean that the CGI would be used to do more complex movements as the later films have. I still think it would be important to maintain that actual presence and continue to use suits for the close-ups.
Whilst the designs for the Predators in Alien vs. Predator made complete sense – more armor – the designs were less than graceful. They completely avoided the sleek, athletic figure from Predator and Predator 2. I think McFarlane Toys did a great job of slimming down the design for their action figure line for the film but a return to that muscular athletic body shape would be appropriate going forward.
I feel that ADI’s Wolf design was very nice. I loved the idea of the scared, aged hunter – especially considering the nature of the Predators, it made sense that they would not get out of every encounter unscathed (as every Predator film attests to). He lost all that bulky armour, he had all manner of fancy toys and acid scarred face. It was much better than the Predators from Anderson’s Alien vs. Predator.
However, something I do not think ADI has managed to make a good looking face or skin for their Predators suits. Both films lacked that wet sheen that Stan Winston’s and KNB’s suits had. They looked far too fake, far too rubbery.
What I would love to see in the next Aliens vs. Predator is an athletic figure and a believable skin tone and a return of battle wounds.
Something that was inevitable when the two deadly extra-terrestrials finally got together was the emergence of the Predalien, the Alien-Predator hybrid. As far as back as Ridley Scott’s Alien it was always envisioned that the Alien takes some traits from the host – this was further solidified in Alien 3 and became known as the DNA reflex theory amongst the fandom.
Whilst the Predalien has only appeared twice in comic book form, it has appeared numerous times in the video game world. When the series finally hit the big screens, it was only logical that the hybrid would rear its terrifying head. However, the design left much to be desired.
All the various incarnations have been different but they all generally include the same traits brought about by the DNA crossover with the Predators – dreadlocks and mandibles. My problem with this is generally on how the dreadlocks are utilized.
In the case of ADI’s Predalien for AvP – Requiem (or Chet as it was nicknamed by the crew), they weren’t used very well. They flopped over its shoulder, completely spoiling the form and flow of the creature. I don’t really agree that the dreadlocks are appropriate, if they must be used I’d prefer they look something like Dave Dorman’s concept art or how the hybrid appeared in the comic Alien vs. Predator – War.
ADI also gave it more of a Predator coloured skin tone – not something I’m too thrilled about, I like my Aliens black and blue but it doesn’t ruin the design for me – another feature quite common in the design of the Predaliens. What I do have a problem with are the pectoral muscles that the crossover also bestowed upon the Predalien. The lack of biomechanical in ADI’s design was a major disappointment for me.
That’s not to say all the blame lies upon ADI. Much of that lies at the feet of Fox mandated instructions. From very early on in the production of Requiem, Fox had really wanted to emphasize the crossover with the Predator. They wanted it so much that they had the Predalien using Predator technology and being able to cloak… Think that sounds bad? You’re not the only ones who thought that sounded terrible. Thankfully the Strause Brothers fought against this.
According to an article on the Stan Winston – School of Character Arts, much of Fox’s direction came as the result of the opinion of the current design for the Predalien: “That 80/20 proportion changed a bit when a 14-year old happened to be walking through the halls of Fox, saw the maquette and said “Wow! Cool Alien!” This observation led to much discussion about how to make it look more like a Predator, and some last minute adding of dreadlocks to increase the Predator feel.”
In regards to the the mandibles, I’ve never had a problem with them and continue to believe they’re the only necessary trait that the Alien needs to take from the Predator. I don’t see the human-born Aliens running around with hair. However, Chet’s design in AvP – Requiem didn’t feature mandibles that fit in with the design. They looked tacked on as you can plainly see in the above picture.
One thing that I did like about Chet’s design was the inclusion of the Predator skull under a clear cowling. It was a small nod to H.R Giger’s original design but one I genuinely liked. That is something I wouldn’t mind seeing going forward.
For me the perfect design would be to look back at what Dave Dorman had originally envisioned for the Predalien.
Some of the earlier designs for the Predalien actually looked quite promising. In particular I’m quite fond of some of Farzad Varahramyan’s designs. On the pictures below, the piece on the left-hand side I like the lack of the emphasize on the Predator aspects of the hybrid although the dreadlocks are far too wavey for my liking. However, for the piece on the right I like them being used as spikes on the head, flowing with the design rather than against it.
Respect the Creatures
Understandably it would be impossible for a crossover film to be able to please both fanbases as a clear victor on either side as the other would undoubtedly take to the internet to vent their rage. So I accept that the humans will inevitably come up victorious in some fashion or another.
What I won’t accept is poor treatment of either creature. I’m looking specifically at Aliens vs Predator – Requiem for this. In an effort to make the solitary Predator character seem more empowered and badass, he is seen dispatching a multitude of Aliens, reducing their effectiveness and demeaning their portrayal to do it.
I’m not sure about everyone else but I sure didn’t think it was badass when Wolf was holding two Aliens by their necks, seemingly unable to do anything against the solitary Predator. They must have missed tail class during their Alien combat training.
What I would love a future Aliens vs. Predator film to do is balance their portrayal of the creatures, to respect them and their earlier portrayals in the films. To do this both species need to be deadly, to each other and the human characters. Every single encounter needs to make an impact, every single conflict needs to leave one of the creatures (or human characters) wounded or dead.
The best way to do this, I feel, is restrict the number of creatures on both sides. I’ve had enough with hordes of Aliens being easily dispatched (why must people continually misinterpret Aliens like that?). Understandably the Predator (and human characters) are capable of taking out the Aliens at range, so make the Aliens focus more on their stealth. That way they can get into close quarters where their very body chemistry is advantageous to combat.
The Predator should be hesitant to fight at close quarters like that, aware of the damage the acid blood can do. Let’s show off their combat mastery and tactics and see how intelligent they truly are. Let’s make the fights brutal and raw, not like something from a wrestling program.
Be Brutal! (But Sensibly)
Alongside the time setting of Paul Anderson’s Alien vs. Predator it also had another major fault – the PG-13 rating. Whilst it ultimately received the same rating over here in the United Kingdom that Alien had when the Director’s Cut was released in the cinemas, the desire to get it to PG-13 in the States left the brutality of the film somewhat lacking.
Leading up to the release of the film, I wasn’t too bothered as that rating applied more to the degree of human violence we would see. I kept telling myself ” it’s okay, there’ll still be plenty of creature violence and gore”. I was wrong. I was so wrong.
Alien vs. Predator was a watered down effort with very little brutality or gore. That’s not to say that gore and brutality are essential components to quality. It’s just that both Alien and Predator are adult franchises with blood thirsty extraterrestrials as their titicular creatures.
Alien had people feinting in the aisles! It certainly didn’t pull any punches when it came to gore or violence. But it had substance to accompany the visual violence. This was a lesson half learnt with the Strause Brother’s sequel.
As part of it’s “going back to the roots” – may that phrase be forever condemned – Aliens vs. Predator – Requiem was heavily marketed for its R rating. The Requiem subtitle has absolutely no bearing on the film, they just wanted a word starting with R so that AvPR could be used.
And, of course, the movie had no substance to back up its gore. Instead we had the wonderful pregnant belly-bursters, intended only as a shock moment that had absolutely no narrative reason and served only to further muddy up that film and fail at any attempts to shock the audience.
It’s vitally important to me – and I’m sure many of us – that the next Aliens vs Predator film ensure it keeps its adult nature and doesn’t shy away from the violence. However, it’s as important that the film doesn’t do it just because. It needs to serve a purpose and be in service of the story.
Calm Down With the Homages!
Specifically the reuse of dialogue. This isn’t a problem specific to the Alien or Predator films, but something of a pandemic within all sequels at the minute. It will continue to annoy me every time single time.
The re-use of dialogue often feels forced into place, all in an effort to invoke some sense of nostalgia towards the original films. However, this very sense of nostalgia that the film-makers try so desperately to create also serves to kill those homages because let’s face it – their delivery will never be as good as the original actor/ess. I know that’s somewhat of a generalization but I think it stands.
A specific moment in Paul Anderson’s Alien vs. Predator that will always make me groan in dispair is towards the end of the film when Scar and Lex are about to escape the ice grotto. The pair are attacked by Aliens and Lex takes the time to say “You are one ugly mother…” and then the piton gun discharges to conveniently cover the “fucker” for the censors.
It might be a bit of a bad example for me to choose as it is said in Predator, Predator 2 and Predators. However, in all those films it is about the timing. In Predator it serves for comical purposes and is timed as such, taking place at a point where the Predator is specifically taking the time to toy with Arnie’s characters.
In Predator 2 it is a surprise where Detective Harrigan had the time to make the remark before the Predator woke up. And in Predators it was said in Russian – I don’t mind it when it is subtle like that but that homage suffered the same issue I have with the inclusion in Alien vs. Predator, the forced delay in the timing to allow for the delivery of the line. In “reality” the Alien and the Predator shouldn’t have allowed either character the time in which to sprout the needless homage.
And then there’s things like Wolf stripping off his equipment to fight Chet during the climax of AvP – Requiem. Now there’s nothing inherently wrong with that – it’s the fact that Chet just stands around waiting for Wolf to finish to necessitate the tribute to the original Predator.
None of the Alien films felt the need to endlessly self reference and until Predators (like I said, that particular example was a bad one as it is one of the few in Predator 2). It is, I think, the mark of a film that doesn’t believe it can stand on its own merits and it reeks of lazy writing.
In order for a film to truly stand apart, it needs to take what came before it and build on it, to expand upon it, not look back at it for aspects to repeat to tick the green boxes that they think the fans so desperately want.
This applies to the story as well. I think an original story would serve better as well. I wouldn’t want to see them basing the narrative too heavily on the comics. Paul Anderson has done that already. Let’s see something original, something world building.
Maybe introduce another species that the Predator hunts which also allows the Aliens to expand and maybe introduce another hybrid creature. Expand, build outwards! Stop looking back.
The above article was a list of my major grievances with the previous Alien vs. Predator films and what I’d like to see improved upon in any potential sequels. I’ve not addressed the obvious points but for the sake of clarity, I would also like to state the usual in that I’d also want to see a good crew & cast attached to the film. All these points are moot if there isn’t something talented involved in making the film. Do you agree? Disagree? Feel free to comment and let us know.