Aliens Vs. Predator - Requiem
Oh, how the mighty have fallen! Two of the most iconic creature designs on celluloid, right up there with those classic Universal monsters, have jumped the shark and fell off the pop cultural map.

Here we go again. The alien, who haunted Ellen Ripley's waking life through four lucrative films, and the predator - who fought valiantly against the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny Glover - are pitted against each other in an intergalactic death match.

"Aliens Vs. Predator - Requiem" is the sequel to 2004's halfhearted "Alien Vs. Predator," an adaptation of a comic book providing fan service to the two successful sci-fi franchises. "AVP" wasn't critically acclaimed for its MTV-style editing or its lack of logical plot - but it did satisfy (marginally) the dream of watching these two cinematic titans square off.

At the end of the first film, a facehugger (those creepy-crawling egg layers from "Alien") impregnates a predator with an embryo - the result is a ‘predalien' - a genetic mash-up of both creatures' physical attributes. Two predators load several live facehuggers and their dead comrade onto a ship, intending to return to the Predator homeworld.

"AVP-R" picks up immediately after the first film with the predalien bursting from the predator's chest and killing everyone aboard. The predator ship crash-lands in a Colorado small town, freeing the facehuggers and starting a potential outbreak.

After a hunter and his son are impregnated, the aliens begin to slowly but surely spread throughout the town. When word gets back to the predator homeworld of what happens, another predator (who is quite possibly the most-bad ass of his kind) comes to Earth to eradicate the aliens and destroy all evidence of the incident.

Here's the problem. The human characters in this film are completely forgettable and worthless. The Alien and Predator franchises were filled with wonderful characters that we could latch on to and fight along side with. Sigourney Weaver's Ellen Ripley is synonymous with the alien, not to mention those kick-ass space marines from James Cameron's "Aliens."

Who could forget Schwarzenegger's strike team in 1987's "Predator" - those guys were tough hombres. For me, it takes convincing performances by living-breathing actors to bring these iconic monsters to life. Creature designs can be frightening and intimidating and disgustingly cool - but that's all they can ever be.

Neither an alien, nor a predator, can make us relate or feel connected - we need those strong human characters to bridge the gap, and as soon as filmmakers like ‘the Brothers Strause' realize that - maybe there will be a return to the intelligent, horrifying sci-fi film. Unfortunately, I doubt it. Speaking of the directors, this was their first motion picture - and it shows. To be diehard fans of the franchises, it seems they completely missed the mark on what made the old movies so good.

As fans of both franchises, we don't want cheesy cookie-cutter rip-offs of those great characters - all we're asking for is something more than teen slasher victims from "Final Destination 3." In "AVP: R" there's a female military soldier with a daughter who is a carbon copy of Ripley (her child doubling as Newt). Meanwhile there's a character named Dallas (Tom Skerritt from "Alien" anyone?) not to mention a whole batch of National Guard soldiers who show up in armored vehicles and get ambushed by the aliens.

It's the same old story with the predator. We see our favorite big game hunter fixing his wounds and screaming from the treetops as he clamps a gash together. There are skinned humans hanging from trees (using the same reveal techniques of past films). Also prevalent from previous films are music cues and complete compositions littered throughout this mess of a movie.

Oh, did I mention someone actually yells, "Get to the chopper!" Only Arnold and his Austrian accent can pull off a line with such fervor.

There were, however, some cool moments in this film. As I mentioned earlier, the predator in this story is a complete bad ass and deals out some heavy damage on his xenomorph opponents. It's too bad the rest of the movie surrounding this excuse for an extra-terrestrial battle royale couldn't hold up under the pressure.

I thought the idea of a ‘predalien' was completely absurd and just an excuse for the filmmakers to give fans something new and stupid to look at. I also didn't care for the backdrop. Two beautifully grotesque creatures battling it out in the equivalent of a National Forest doesn't have much appeal to me.

The gore is absolutely over-the-top. The directors relied entirely on gore (and poorly-done computer effects) to tell their story instead of the old-fashioned way: with characters and an actual plot.

Just as poorly executed as its predecessor, only this time with twice as much gore and half as much story, "AVP-R" is nothing more than an 94-minute romp with about as much realism and believability as a WWE match.

DVD review:

While the theatrical cut of the film runs 94 minutes, the unrated version of "AVP-R" runs a mean 101 minutes and manages to some how make the story even more muddled and confusing that it was before. All that's new here is a few new shots of the predalien, some more heads getting blown off and a weird scene in a graveyard with a character who is identical to Tim Robbin's role in the 2005 "War of the Worlds" film. Weird.

The "AVP-R" theatrical version DVD is presented in both widescreen and full screen versions on a double-sided disc with English 5.1 Dolby Surround, Spanish/French Dolby Surround with English/Spanish subtitles.  

The unrated single-disc and two-disc Special Edition are available in widescreen only (2.35:1 aspect ratio) with English 5.1 Dolby Surround and DTS audio, Spanish/French Dolby Surround with English/Spanish subtitles.  

On the single-disc versions, you can find commentaries by directors Colin and Greg Strause and producer John Davis as well as an additional commentary track by creature effects designers/creators Tom Woodruff Jr. and Alec Gillis.
 
The two-disc ‘extreme' unrated special edition Includes all the previously mentioned content on its first disc as well as a second disc packed with bonuses like a digital copy feature, behind-the-scenes features, still design galleries and theatrical trailers.

The behind-the-scenes materials include featurettes detailing the making of the film in two parts, "Prepare for War" and "Fight to the Finish." There's also "AVP-R:" The Nightmare Returns, which documents the creation of the film's aliens, as well as "Crossbreed" - a look at the predalien. Also, there's a featurette for the creation of the predator homeworld, which is strange being as it was only in the film for a total of 3 minutes.

The Verdict:

It's frustrating and disappointing for me, a huge fan of both franchises, to see my beloved creatures sucked down the drain of despair and embarrassment. I think the ‘Brothers Strause' want to make a sequel - and if that's the case, someone skin me alive and hang me from a tree, because it would be better than seeing another uninspiring, disrespecting film like this.
 
Reviewed by: adam