Alien Vs Predator Review
The fundamental flaw of the movie, I believe, boils down to its central premise: the pyramid. I will be the first to admit, it is indeed a novel concept, pretty intriguing, and the conceptual development of a prison maze within a pyramid has enormous potential. But sad to say, I think it was poorly executed and only led to the bleeding of this film. The problem lies in that Anderson (the director), in one of the first online interviews, spoke about the asethetic beauty of the pyramid and the elaborate efforts invested in designing the battleground. Well great, but we can't see it. When the whole movie is submerged in obscure darkness, nobody is ever going to develop any asethetic admiration of the battleground. Likewise, it is difficult to invoke a sense of suspension when one can't reasonably see what the frigging place is like. Now thats not to say that shadowing effects would lead to an underappreciation of the film, certainly tense events in films are exacerbated by dark shadowing effects, but in trying to combine the purpose of the pyramid with the overall effect, it lacks bite.
Leading up from the pyramid premise, the other flaws march together. The origins of the pyramid, essentially the history of the Predators being worshipped as Gods during the Aztec civilization, comes off as blantantly unrealistic (cf. one scene shows a flashback of the "sacrificial chamber"). Secondly, the prison maze situated in the pyramid, as expected, is an attempt to recreate the same atmosphere in Alien, and Aliens3. While Aliens, Alien: Resurrection, Predator and Predator 2 had some sort of an ongoing hunt in a similiar maze-like environment as well, it was not manifestly postulated to be an important factor. Since AvP intentionly directs our attention to the predicament the humans are in, the prison-maze should be entirely contingent and surprising. Unfortunately, Anderson again refers to a previous device...the prison maze ends up no different than the tunnels within the first Alien movie.
There are other additional devices that, if one so closely inspects, Anderson has relied on from previous movies. Asides from the obvious "bullet effect" (adapted from the Matrix) of the face huggers and chest busters, Weyland (Lance Henrisken) performs Bishop's "knife between fingers" trick brieftly and the repeated "you ugly..." one-liners from a few characters. Even the beginning of the film had an obvious reference to Mission Impossible 2. There is also the "T-Rex Jurassic Park"-like Alien Queen at the end.
Now the main iconic reference, that can't be avoided, is main character Lex (Sanaa Lathan) to Ripley in the previous Alien movie. Although the new heroine somewhat pulls off a different persona to Ripley (since a clone won't be unacceptable), nevertheless the character doesn't come off as particularly memorable. The one exception I noticed regarding character development in this movie was that none of them were portrayed overtly malevolent. Even the wealthy corporate head, presuming devoid of any concern for human life, sacrificed himself in the end.
Then comes the controversial teaming up of Lex and the hero Predator towards the end. This idea has actually been realised in many of the novels, comics and other spin-offs of the Predator, or Alien vs Predator franchises, so it doesn't come off as unacceptable. Indeed, I believe Anderson clearly stole the idea from an early Predator novel. However, the team duo effect was taken to an extreme pole which I deem close to comical. Especially the last scene when the maskless Predator faces Lex, you swear that they were going to kiss. It was equally absurb to have the Predator explain to Lex about his wrist-device activated to bomb mode, and Lex immediately understanding such a gesture. When one includes the extended scene of the Predator and Lex running away from the explosion, it was close to resembling some romantic escapee.
I think most people expected the final battle scene to be between the Alien Queen and the Predator. In some respects, I am pleased about the finale. But even before the fight happened, when the wrist-device of the Predator had practically destroyed and descarated an entire city, one wonders how the Alien Queen miraculously survived.
One can also see Anderson attempts to achieve a delicate balance between the Alien and the Predator. He tries to mantain an equal number of victories between both races, with the final victor obviously being the humans. However, in this race for political correctness, the movie is left with too few fights, in fact only one true fight between a Predator and an Alien. The rest were simply "quick-shots" of fatality and much too brief.
There is also one inconsistency about the Aliens. Most fans have remarked about the speedy development process of the chest buster after the humans were impregnanted by the face huggers. In all fairness, Anderson has defended this by explaining in an interview that he had intended to insert a scene explaining this. However, it doesn't explain why the Predator seemed to resist much longer. It also makes no sense to introduce the "Predalien" chest bugger in the ending, when we aren't going to see its full adult development. And sequels, let's be honest, are not always a guaranteed.
Having said all that, is there truly nothing positive to be mentioned? Again, to be honest, I did enjoy the film, if not just to see two of my favourite sci-fi characters in a duel I long dreamed of. Seeing the Alien reinvented with CG effects, or the Predator with shiny armour and advanced weapons was a clear delight. it only saddens me that the concept of this inter-galatic duel was pulled off by mediocre efforts and perhaps by the overambitious nature of the project (I believe the lack of action scenes is due to inadequate development time). The only sincere hope I have now is that someone reinvents the concept (this is highly unlikely) or that a new director takes charge for a sequel.
Lastly, this movie has ranked the lowest of all box office records among all the Alien and Predator films. A true testament to the lack of "bite" as compared to its predecessors....
Oh and the number of people who watched this movie. Four. Including me.