Jul 23, 2010

[Movies] Aliens vs Predator: Requiem (2007)

Aliens vs Predator: Requiem (2007)It's funny how some fan-driven match-ups were a lot more interesting in our minds than in reality. Then again, I suppose that's not at all surprising given the limitless potential of the human imagination versus what can actually be achieved in reality. Books do decently in this arena since they still rely on the imagination to fill the gaps despite a given story. Comics are the next best ones since despite set visuals, it's up to the reader to "animate" the characters actions between panels.

At the bottom of the barrel are movies and TV shows since they try to present the visuals to us and thus completing the experience. The imagination has little left to do since we rely on the vision of the director to see us to the end. This has resulted in some pretty bad translations of such ideas and yet others still that weren't quite as horrible. It's just hard to match the expectations we set as based on the products of our imaginations versus the final outcomes. I definitely don't envy those who make a living out of such visual forms of entertainment.

Regardless, the meeting of these two franchises was met with rather limited success the first time at bat. It looks like they tried to simplify things further this time around in order to make the whole experience more enjoyable. Let's face it - we're not in it to expect some award-winning material. We wanted these two races to meet for some raw hack-and-slash action, and that's exactly what we're going to get.

Aliens vs Predator: Requiem (AVP:R) is the 2007 sequel to Alien vs Predator (AVP). The movie had a new director and largely the same writing team and thus similar reception from critics when you get down to it.

The Predalien as depicted in Aliens vs. Predat...Image via Wikipedia
The story (if you can even call it that) takes place immediately after the first movie with an alien chestburster emerging from the corpse of the Predator who killed the Alien Queen. As is the way of the Xenomorphs, the new alien has characteristics of both species and it gets loose in the ship. A failure to contain it eventually results in the ship crash-landing in Colorado, thus releasing the few facehuggers it had been carrying with along with the hybrid "Predalien". Thus the small town of Gunnison is in for some majorly bad news.

On the human front, we have a lot of potential cannon fodder. We start with ex-convict Dallas (Steven Pasquale) returning home who is met by his friend Sheriff Morales (John Ortiz). Dallas eventually meets up with his slacker brother Ricky (Johnny Lewis), who is pretty much head over heels for his classmate Jesse (Kristen Hager). And in another part of town there's Kelly O'Brien returning from her tour of duty to be reunited with her husband Tim (Sam Trammell) and her daughter Molly (Ariel Gade). Why these people are supposed to be important is anyone's guess but then you know the writers needed to add in human characters for us to relate to. A classic trope.

It's clear that the director wanted to go for more of a horror movie feel, to a very limited degree. There was the slight effort to have that classic tension build-up as the aliens consolidated their hold in the town, the lone Predator investigating the ship's distress call and of course all the sheeple milling about the town, largely none the wiser to the growing threat in their midst. Then all hell breaks loose, the helpless humans do their best to survive when in reality they're just getting caught in the crossfire of the two alien races. And yes, there is a swimming pool scene.

You can mostly ignore the humans since (1) their stories really don't matter in the long run, (2) they are doomed to die and you know it and (3) they're horrible, horrible actors. Read those three reasons again and factor in this is about Aliens and a Predator - not Humans.

In that respect, you get your usual Alien-ish and Predator-like action. Razor discs? Check. Should-mounted plasma cannons? Check. Acid for blood? Check. Glowy florescent blood? Also check! And you get other weird stuff like magical blue liquid which dissolves anything it comes into contact with along with the Predalien of course. It's never really clear why the Predalien is supposed to be better than other aliens. Sure it's pretty tall and it has a strange way of continuing the species which has nothing to do with being a Predator but it seems mostly clumsy and clunky. And it somehow has the urge to keep a few trophies or something.

The action was in some ways both better and worse than the original AVP. I mean yeah, we had more aliens in more locations in a greater variety of combat arenas. That was a good idea and the Predator did his best to think of widely different ways of killing them. But then the Predator himself didn't seem all that flexible and I felt at times that the one from the first movie was a more impressive hand-to-hand fighter or something. It's hard to put my finger on why I feel this way, but you might get what I mean if you watch the two movies in succession and focus on the Predator combat style. Do you see it now?

The rest of the story is barely held together by Alien / Predator combat scenes with more and more humans getting killed somehow. Don't even get me started on the ineptitude of the so-called National Guard in the movie - they totally deserved what they got given the circumstances! Then again, we are dealing with humans with contemporary technology and not the slightly more advanced Space Marines of the main Aliens franchise of films. Still, they were REALLY bad this time around and it hurts my brain just thinking about it.

It's a really close call to determine how to evaluate AVP vs AVP:R and I'll be damned if I claim I can absolutely state which one is better or worse than the other. But for purposes of record, for now I give Aliens vs Predator: Requiem 3 sadly idiotic Xenomorphs out of a possible 5.
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