Aliens vs. Predator - Requiem (2007) / Sci Fi-Horror
aka Alien vs. Predator 2
MPAA Rated: R for violence, gore and language
Running time: 86 min. (unrated DVD version runs 102 min.)
Cast: Steven Pascuale, Reiko Aylesworth, John Ortiz, Johnny Lewis, Ariel Gade, Kristen Hager, Sam Trammel, Robert Joy, David Patkau
Director: The Brothers Strause
Screenplay: Shane Salerno
Review published June 29, 2008
Requiem -- a word which means a service or mass performed for the dead. This sequel is certainly an attempt to continue to celebrate two dead franchises, but I wouldn't exactly say they are performing any services. More like grave digging to try to see if there is any more meat on the bones of the stinking corpses of now classic sci-fi horror hits of the 1980s. At this point, they're pretty much sucking on marrow for sustenance, though not as much as they are just sucking in general.
Veteran special effects gurus The Brothers Strause (as Greg and Colin Strause are calling themselves these days) get the nod to direct the second entry in the spin-off series that continues the trend for both franchises of further descent into the cinematic cesspool. The Strauses recognize that fans of both the Alien and Predator series were past chagrined at the Paul W.S. Anderson effort, Alien vs. Predator, because it was PG-13, reducing the gore and scares down to no more horrific than what you can see on the Sci-Fi Channel any day of the week. The R-rated status has returned, and the gore you expect in all its glory. They even make a concerted effort to up the shock of the deaths to include young children, pregnant mothers, and several of the major characters you were probably expecting to survive until the end. While the amoral approach might be different, it doesn't necessarily translate into suspense, as the Brothers Strause don't do much else but regurgitate the goriest moments of the previous films in each franchise constantly to the point of viewer apathy.
As you can see from the film's silly title, the Alien is now plural, borrowing a page from the original Alien series (its sequel was also Aliens). It's the first of many attempts to replicate the James Cameron follow-up, including a female heroine, a young girl to protect, the militaristic plotlines, and even a scene where the protagonists hear the harrowing deaths of a crack team witnessed through the ominous sounds of screaming through a monitoring system.
As with AVP, the setting is present-day Earth, where a small scout ship containing a Predator and Aliens (including one Alien/Predator hybrid, dubbed by the marketing team as a "predalien") crash land in a rural town in Colorado. They survive, start killing people, and all hell breaks loose. Once again, the only thing that keeps the Aliens from growing out of control is the Predator, though he is no friend of humanity, as he also dispatches any humans that stand in his way of destroying his prey.
As evidenced from the meager plotline, AVPR isn't exactly a thinkers movie. It's merely an excuse to try to bring more money to Fox by giving to the ready-built fan base what it thinks they want to see. What it doesn't realize is that the largest fan base for these films, the ones that like Alien, Aliens, and Predator, like those films for being genuinely suspenseful, with good character build up, and a pace that sets the table for the big action finale. The group that AVPR caters too is the much smaller, though apparently still lucrative, fan base that also enjoyed Alien 3, Alien Resurrection, Predator 2, and even AVP because of their bloody gore and special effects. AVPR has plenty of distasteful imagery in abundance, but without a lick of suspense, characters that offer little to no importance, and monsters that clash without anyone to root for, there's just nothing here to satisfy someone who doesn't intend to get off on chest-ripping and acid-dissolving alien viscera.
Believe it or not, there are human characters in the film, but if I haven't already dissuaded you from seeing the film, ask yourself at the end, "What was the point?" Typical slasher movie clichés like hot teens getting it on with one another, families in mortal jeopardy (including a regurgitation of the Ripley/Newt mother/daughter dynamic), and the Pitch Black plotline where the criminal must become the leader in order to keep the other human characters alive are tossed in for typical horror fans, but to anyone not in that boat, this is a thoroughly unoriginal, unfocused, and unacceptable effort that is nothing more than recycling ideas from a variety of sources that have been replicated to near obsolescence over the last 20 years.
If you've made it this far into the series for either franchise, you've no doubt seen it all before already, unless you think children with face-huggers and pregnant women who get their bellies ripped by alien youngins to be truly original concepts worth another movie to explore. Why would you want to see a rehash of the same material done without suspense, emotion, or meaning? Like its predecessor in the monster mash-up, the entirety of the film is dark, too dark to see what's going on -- not that it matters much. Note to the folks at Fox: if you're going to continue to revive two lucrative franchises, please look to giving us the full course meals served up by the early films in both series, rather than continuing to scrape the plate of residual scraps for us to eat off of the filthy dining room floor.
©2008 Vince Leo