Alien vs. Predator (2004)

Alien vs. Predator (2004)

Director: Paul WS Anderson
Starring: Sanaa Lathan, Raoul Bova, Lance Henriksen

An industrialist leads an expedition to an ancient complex buried under the ice of Antarctica.

As a big fan of both the Alien and Predator franchises, the idea of an Alien vs. Predator movie certainly sounds appealing. They've been doing it in comics and video games for years to good effect, but when I saw this film, I was mightily cheesed off. This review could go on for pages and pages if I wanted to nitpick every little thing that didn't jibe with the established lore of both franchises. It hadn't been that long since I saw Paul WS Anderson's first Resident Evil movie and a lot of what I didn't like about it held true here as well and set off my general disdain for him as a filmmaker (excepting Event Horizon, the first Mortal Kombat and Soldier). The thing is that I read a much better script treatment before this came out, back when I was trying to find work as a script doctor. I would've loved it if that AVP was made instead of this. Before I rattle off a selection of things I didn't like, I will say that rewatching the film some ten years later, I'm not nearly as angry about it. A little annoyed, yes, but I guess the flames of nerd rage have died down as I've gotten older.

I'm willing to accept that Predators are in the Antarctic as opposed to their preferred tropical hunting grounds because this is some sort of rite of passage. It also explains why the Predators are such punks. You could try to claim that the xenomorphs are a genetically modified strain to handwave the accelerated life cycle, but I don't buy that one. Keeping the life cycle consistent with established lore would've actually done a better job of building tension. Also, a consistent portrayal of the corrosiveness of xenomorph blood would've caused the marking ritual to turn out quite differently. I could go on, but I'll just leave the lore nitpicks there.

While Sanaa Lathan is okay as the lead and Lance Henriksen is cool as Weyland, a big problem I have is that more interesting characters are killed off way too quickly and most aren't given enough establishment to really care what happens to them. (What does Paul WS Anderson have about chopping up Colin Salmon into little pieces?) Lex and Scar make a decent a combo, I'll give the film that.

The action is okay, the CG is passable and the practical effects are pretty good. Casual fans of the two franchises may be satisfied with what they get, but the more die-hard are likely to have a more negative reaction. It isn't all that bad on reflection, so take it or leave it.