Monday, August 16, 2010
ALIEN vs. PREDATOR vs. ONE-TREE HILL
Problem #1. Like the first AVP film (which I did like) this one takes place on Earth. And of course the setting is some modern day town somewhere in the mountains. That means all the locations are places you are familiar with. When you think of an Aliens film do you think of restaurants, pizza places, schools, gun stores, maternity wards in hospitals? The two don't go well together. That is unless you were actually telling the story of how Earth became infested and destroyed by an alien actually reaching Earth. This movie doesn't do that. It is just some small isolated town that you already know will get nuked at the end. All these movies end with an explosion. Even that would not stop the aliens from spreading but for movie purposes it does. The underlying threat in the Alien saga is what would happen if an alien reached Earth. Sigourney Weaver's character Ripley spends three movies preventing that from happening. She even gives up her own life to stop the greedy corporations from getting their hands on it. Well guess what? AVP-R ruins all of that by showing aliens on Earth and nothing too terrible happening that cannot be fixed by a nuke.
Problem #2. The Characters. There are too many people characters. None of them stand out. Everyone is made-for-tv. Teenagers make up a lot of the cast too. Of course you have a few stereo-types. There is the "Jerk"who beats up the "Unpopular kid who is love with the Jerks girlfriend" who is the "Nice Popular Girl". Do you think of teenagers when you think of Aliens vs. Predators? I guess they want to pay homage to Friday the 13th also. They all look like they are filming an episode of One-Tree Hill and Aliens and Predators happen to show up. Wow, is that an homage to the Predator movies? Predator is an action movie where a Predator happens to show up. Predator 2 is a police action movie where Danny Glover happens to be investigating the murders done by a Predator. In fact I recognize a few from actual tv shows. The hero is from Rescue Me, the kid hunting with his father is from Psyche, and the little girl's dad is from True Blood. The little girl (who is the newt character) has a mom back from fighting in Iraq or maybe Afghanistan. Of course she has to look somewhat like Ripley from the Aliens movies. The reason why they have a strong Ripley like character is because "the most important thing about the Aliens movies is having a strong female character". Which is complete crap. Sigourney Weaver is a great actress who made the terror in those films believable but we don't watch these movies for her. We watch them for the monsters. We watch them to see aliens fight marines. We watch them to see aliens fight marines and Predators. We don't watch them because of some weird metaphor about strong willed women running from penis-head monsters.
Problem #3. Its Stupid. Its the "Jerk" who suggests they should leave right away. Instead of getting in a car and leaving town when all hell breaks loose the older brother of the "Unpopular Kid" who is suppose to be the main hero and smart one says "If we are going to leave town we need guns." .Why? In the previous scene we see most of the towns people in their cars LEAVING TOWN! The movie could have ended right there. At one point a soldier walks by a sitting alien in the middle of the street which pops up right behind him and splatters his brains against the glass of a car door. How did he not see it? ITS RIGHT THERE! Only one Predator goes back to Earth to kill all the aliens and cover-up their existence. Why not send a whole bunch? And of course he gets spotted by a cop so the Predator kills him. But instead of hiding the body the Predator does his trademark skinning and hanging the body in the trees routine so later on the cops can find it and say things like "He was skinned alive." and "There were no tracks." You know, to get more lines from the other movies into this movie. Wouldn't that be counter productive in covering up the fact that you are there.? Predators only skin what they hunt. This Predator isn't hunting humans for sport this time. He is cleaning a mess.(Which is a pretty original idea.) Get it right, people!
Problem #4. ALIEN, PREDATOR HYBRID QUEEN. To outdo all other films in the franchise, AVP-R introduces us to the alien predator hybrid queen. That means it is SUPERDY-DUPER awesome. Yeah, it looks kind of awesome. But the concept (which was introduced in Alien3) of an alien adopting physical traits of their hosts is unimaginative. That's the kind of idea you come up with if you want to sell a lot of alien toys and you need to come up with different types of toys to sell. The whole concept taints the Alien perfection. The Giger design of the Alien is perfect. Leave it alone. We don't need aliens with feathers or scales or hair. Instead of laying eggs that have face-huggers this Pred-Queen sticks her tongue down your throat and lays eggs in your stomach. You get to see pregnant moms with the bellies spewing open with tentacles of baby alien heads. Its pretty tasteless and doesn't belong in this franchise. This whole movie doesn't belong in the freakin franchise. This movie should be one of those "What If" movies like Marvel had the "What If" series of comics. That is what this movie is.
The aliens and Predators are meticulously kept perfect to look exactly like they did in Aliens and Predator. The way they move and sound are pretty much perfect. Unfortunately the film is bathed in dark shadows hiding a lot of these details. Often the heavy shadows make it difficult to see what you are looking at. At least they made this movie for an R rating but even that doesn't help. Blood and guts alone can't make a movie good. There are so many "nods" to the originals that the creative neck of AVP-R is broke. Maybe one day we will get a perfect AVP film but I will probably be dead by then with my own neck broken by nodding my head at all the stupid parts in this movie. How bleak.