Agathe De La Boulaye
Trivia The only actor ever to be killed by an Alien and a Predator is Bill Paxton. He was Hudson in Aliens and a cop in Predator 2...
The Alien skull first appeared in the spaceship at the end of Predator 2.
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Aliens vs. Predator (2004)
25th Apr 05
Aliens and Predators fight it out in a big temple, whilst some humans run around getting in the way.
Potentially the holy grail of all movie crossover projects, AvP had been in gestation for a very long time. As far back as the 80s Dark House Publications led the way with the critically and commercially successful Alien vs. Predator comic book series. A few years later, Atari joined the party with Alien vs. Predator the video game, which almost made the ill-fated Jaguar console worth owning. To this day these mediums for the franchise still persist - the comics still sell well and the two creatures have continually appeared in various licensed games, including Predator - Concrete Jungle on PS2 and Xbox this summer. So let's face it, the guaranteed fan boy revenue potential meant this movie was bound to get made sooner or later, and it's quite fitting I suppose, as cinema is where these fellas came from after all.
Hang on though, does that mean Alien vs. Predator is the pairing up of two movie franchises or is it a movie adaptation of a comic book? Similarly could it be considered a movie version of a popular video game? Or, more realistically, is it a combination of all three? And, if that is the case, can any lessons be learned before we start from other people's mistakes?
Let's take the movie franchises. Ridley Scott's first Alien was a big nasty grab-you-from-the-shadows kind of monster that scared the hell out of us. Jim Cameron's Aliens were a wild flailing all-teeth-and-claws bunch that thrilled us by relentlessly charging at the colonial marines even though they were fully tooled up with futuristic sci-fi machine guns. Then in David Fincher's Alien 3 we had, um, a dog Alien, and in Jeunet's fourth installment we get CGI swimming Aliens and a sick half-Alien, half-human thing. Hmmm, there are some lessons right there.
The Predator movies are very different in the sense that the SFXs were largely unchanged from one to the other, so a lot of credit has to go to the late great Kevin Peter Hall who gave life to the Predator in both movies (as well as the lead in Bigfoot and the Hendersons). His on screen presence was so incredible that he made even Arnold Schwarzenegger look small. That's not easy.
That means we're looking for Aliens that look like a cross between the first two Alien movies (latex and slime over CGI please) and a bunch of Predators as big and physically imposing as Kevin Peter Hall. But what about the human characters in those movies - was their role as important or were they just monster fodder?
Both Alien and Aliens had a strong cast of characters whose back stories where established clearly and early by getting them to do something together before they encounter the actual monsters. Whether they argue about repairing the Nostromo, argue while loading rockets onto the drop ship in the Sulaco's hanger or argue over who's going to get the last cornbread doesn't matter - the point is that all the players are given a few key scenes to let us know who they are and what they are doing there. You might also notice the frequency with which characters refer to each other by name - that's not for their benefit, it's for ours. When you know someone's name it's much harder to watch them die without feeling anything.
Similar principals can be applied to Predator - Dutch, Billy the native American, the guy with glasses who tells rude jokes, the sexual tyrannosaurus, Apollo from Rocky, err, the black guy who picks up the mini-gun midway - all great characters (so strong that you don't even need to know their names) that bond early on with some ace macho bullshit. Can you remember any of the characters from Predator 2 except Danny Glover? No, neither can I. I can tell you who Hudson, Vasquez, Burke, Hicks and even Spunkmeyer were, but I couldn't name one character from Alien 3 except Ripley (and Bishop, but only because of the Aliens connection). And in Alien Resurrection I'm not even sure that was Ripley.
Which brings us nicely on to Alien vs. Predator. There's no Ripley here, which means we instantly loose our humanitarian connection to the Alien. Instead we get Lance Henriksen returning as Bishop Weyland, this time a terminally ill 20th century entrepreneur who's worried he'll die and leave no legacy in this world. Little does he know, of course, that he is to become the face of a million 'Bishop' androids, produced by the Weyland-Yutana Corporation hundreds of years from now. How ironic life is, even for characters in movie franchises.
The movie starts with a startling discovery being made at the North Pole and Weyland's sidekick (the black guy who bites it in the laser corridor back in Resident Evil - a Paul Anderson connection) rounding up the relevant 'specialists' to go and investigate it. First to be introduced are Graham Miller and Alexis Woods, who share a helicopter ride to the Pole and therefore have time to get acquainted. Graham is a rock specialist who is obsessed with taking photos of stuff to show his kids when he gets back (practically guaranteeing his character an early demise), while Alexis is an extreme weather conditions survival expert who's been bought in as a guide. She's a bit kick-ass and is obviously our Ripley replacement, although it's a shame that the filmmaker's thought we needed one and couldn't come up with an original story arc a bit different from the ‘strong feisty female lead’ idea.
Still, it’s an okay start with two neat introductions played out economically, but the shock is that that’s about it as far as character development goes. The rest of the gang arrive thick, fast and unannounced, and with very little clue as to why they are there. There's an Italian bloke and his blonde mate who are whisked off a dig somewhere, so we assume they must be archeologists or something. There's Weyland and his men with machine guns - do they know something? And then there's a spikey haired woman who I have no idea what her name is, but I think it might be 'first victim'.
Anyhow, off they go to the outpost near the 'discovery' and we come across the next cinematic blunder in the picture. The amazing shaft that's been literally burned through the ice (apparently) is found in a very lame manner. No majestic sweeping shots of the area, no slow pans to the opening accompanied by an appropriately dramatic score, instead we get a quick 'Hey a tunnel, let's get down there!' and they're soon scurrying down that tunnel like lambs to the slaughter.
That's the real problem with the whole movie, actually. I'm not giving much away by telling you that the 'discovery' I keep mentioning is a sacrificial temple under the ice and everyone's in so much of a hurry to get down there that haven't got time for anything else. No plot, no character development, no names even for some of them, and consequently when the party gets going you couldn't really care less who dies and who doesn't. Sheesh - think what could have been achieved with a simple five minute cantina scene.
Anyway, this temple they've found is the main location for the rest of the movie. It has a few bizarre characteristics too. The walls move every nine minutes, the hieroglyphics adorning its walls are derivative of several ancient texts (apparently) and there's a queen alien in the basement. It doesn't take long before she's popping out eggs, the eggs are popping out face huggers and it's chest busting time for the cannon-fodder members of the cast, which we soon realize is nearly all of them.
And when the Aliens arrive, so do the Predators. The good news, you'll be glad to hear, is that while not as intimidating as Kevin Peter Hall, the Predators actually look pretty good. The Aliens too look decent, being latex instead of CGI, although they could have done with a little more slime. But the big question is, what's the action like? Is it as good as, say, the bullet-soaked madness of the original Predator, or is it more like the inventive choreography of Jim Cameron's Aliens? Or heaven forbid is the violence more akin to the choppy, fast-cutting, nonsensical stuff we had in Anderson's previous movie, Resident Evil (the video game connection)?
Well, what did you expect? Visually the monsters look great and still have a familiar line of hiding in shadows and jumping out at people, but when it comes to the actual melee, the actual Alien vs. Predator match up that we've paid our money to see, it's all a bit of a let down. It's the usual Hollywood problem of MTV editing - all close-up fast cuts that are more confusing than anything, and then it's all over before you know it. It feels more like you are watching the highlights as opposed to the actual event which, of course, we initially figured wasn't that far from the truth.
Why is Alien vs. Predator only a 15, or rather a PG-13 in the states? Was it, as some people claimed, a last minute studio decision, depriving us of gore in favour of mass market appeal? Is it the fact that most of the violence portrayed is from encounters between two sets of rubber monsters, then? Or, dare we admit it; was it planned this way all along? As much as I'd love to believe there's an ultra-violent uncut version of Alien vs. Predator out there somewhere, I'm not holding my breath. The half-arsed action choreography of Resident Evil is clearly evident here too and, when you first see it, it's very hard to hide your disappointment.
So - crap characters, crap plot, crap action, quite good looking Aliens and Predators. A complete waste of everyone's time? Not quite - inevitably some of the movie is so bad that it's intentionally very funny and those moments break up the car-crash tedium of the rest of it. Take, for example, the sequence where the Italian fella discovers a room full of hieroglyphics, translates the whole lot in seconds - filling in the rest of the remaining humans with the entire back story - and then gets promptly eaten. Hilarious! And what about when Alexis takes out an alien at very close range (Vasquez style) and unwittingly gains the respect of a passing Predator - you won't believe what he fashions a shield for her out of. And finally the ending - how come most of the flick is spent trapped inside the temple then when the movie's drawing to a close the survivors just leave through the front door? Did I miss something?
Either way, Alien vs. Predator has done nothing to renew my faith in comic book adaptations, video game adaptations or dwindling franchises. As a result the reputations of the two main protagonists' species have definitely been sullied. They just aren’t that hard no more - I've now witnessed an alien killed in hand-to-hand combat by a girl, and the Predator… Well let's just say that by the end of it I wanted to give the one with the scar a really big hug. At the end of the day, Alien vs. Predator is exactly as bad as you expect it is going to be, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a viewing just to see exactly how bad – you might just have some decent fun in the process.
"Whoever wins, we lose."
Versions An 'Extreme Version' is nothing of the sort. They literally added an extra sequence at the beginning that has no real relevance to the rest of the film.
An uncut super violent edit of this film does not exist.
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