Twitter Plot Summary: Aliens meet Predators, and there are people stuck in the middle. Suffice to say, it doesn’t end well. Nor does the film.
Ever since fans spotted an Alien skull in the generally okay Predator 2, fans had been clamouring for a cinematic tete a tete between two of the film world’s most iconic latter day science fiction creations. Of course, comic book fans had experienced many years of Alien VS Predator crossovers via Dark Horse Comics from the late 80s onwards, but in 2004 the pairing finally made it to the big screen. Was it worth it? Kind of.
The first major indication that it might not be the film we were hoping for came with the announcement of Paul WS Anderson as it’s director. A bit harsh you may think, but bear with me on this point. Anderson may not be the most adventurous or talented filmmaker in the world, but he is at least consistent. That is likely the only genuinely good comment that can be made about AvP. Everything else about the production feels too light for the serious tone it is trying to achieve, and despite the occasional darker moment it often feels as if it’s been homogenised to make it 12A rating friendly. Which, as it happens, it is. From a business perspective it makes perfect sense as it almost guarantees more bums on seats in the cinema, but creatively? No, it doesn’t do the final product any favours in the slightest.
Other than those general issues about tone and commercially exploiting the brand name, there are more issues to contend with. The script is hackneyed, to the point where you know that as soon as Ewen Bremner starts talking about his kids you know that he’s not going to survive.
Meanwhile, Colin Salmon proves to be Anderson’s go to guy for horrific death scenes (sorry to anybody who hasn’t yet seen this), taking on a similar privilege to the one bestowed upon him in 2002’s Resident Evil, also written and directed by Anderson. He gets a good ending at least. Unlike the film itself, a point which I’ll move onto shortly.
There are some good nods to the established canon – Lance Henriksen being cast as the modern day Mr Weyland is by far the best of these, and the way the Aliens and Predators are used is, on the whole, appropriate. The relationship between the apex Predator (sadly, not Randy Orton) and lead character Alexa (Sanaa Lathan) is an interesting development, and does something a little different to the usual “everybody dies” formula.
But then Anderson has chosen to ruin things by paying too many homages to the previous films in its action sequences, and demonstrates that he can’t write a satisfactory finale. There really is no need to finish a story on a cliffhanger, is there? To use it here and there is fine, but in almost every film you make? No, that’s the M Night Shyamalan effect, it grows tiresome through repetition. Likewise with the action sequences, we’ve seen them played out before in the previous films in each series. Why labour on existing templates when you could do something unique and exciting with the property instead?