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Alien vs. Predator
2004 - PG-13 - 87 Mins.
Director: Paul W. S. Anderson
Producer: Walter Hill & Gordon Carroll & John Davis
Written By: Paul W.S. Anderson
Starring: Sanaa Lathan, Raoul Bova, Lance Henriksen, Ewen Bremner, Colin Salmon
Review by: John Ulmer
Official Site: www.avp-movie.com/
   

Let's get outta here -- before this movie gets any worse!
We don’t go to see movies about dueling alien species for deep themes and intricate character development, but a little sympathy would be nice. Director Paul W. S. Anderson has always excelled at set design. In “Event Horizon” he perfectly captured the dark essence of the “Alien” series; with “Resident Evil” he managed to mimic the gothic structure of all great zombie movies. But that’s about it. He’s never been any good at three other vital elements of filmmaking: story, characters and actual direction. “Alien vs. Predator” –- a project that took 14 astonishing years in the making (longer than “Freddy vs. Jason”) –- doesn’t do much to change this.

I didn't feel any sympathy for the characters in “AvP” because they were all unlikable clichés: The Heroine, The Hero, The Nerd, The Tomboy, The Gruff Leader, et al. Loosely based on the AvP comic series, these characters are all assembled together by Charles Bishop Weyland (Lance Henriksen) to venture into the Antarctic, where they will uncover an ancient pyramid recently discovered by Weyland’s multi-million dollar satellites hovering about in space.

The pyramid is buried deep within the wastelands of the Antarctic (2,000 feet, actually). Apparently, this is a good location for battles. After venturing deep into the pyramid, the team of scientists soon realizes that the pyramid is –- surprise, surprise! –- actually the home of an alien hive. And furthermore, a pack of teenaged Predators -- on an annual “manhood” hunting ritual -- are there, too, and they begin to draw the humans into their fight, using them as bait.

The movie’s cast is comprised of many newcomers and they are all unimpressive. Sanaa Lathan, as Alexa, the heroine, is rather annoying. Raoul Bova, playing the hero Sebastian, is the most likable of the characters, but even then, he’s no Arnold. The dialogue is lame. Sure, “Predator” had lame dialogue (“Knock, knock!”) but at least it was funny and delivered with charisma. This movie unfortunately takes itself way too seriously.

Even Henriksen seems like he's just in it for the paycheck. According to the story’s set-up to tie into the original "Alien" storyline, Weyland is the billionaire who creates the Bishop robots, which are modeled after his own image. Besides, is it a coincidence that the only returning cast member from either series happens to be the same actor whose career has tracked into straight-to-video duds?

However, kudos to "AvP" creature effects. I had expected lots of CGI, but there are also many close-ups of the Predators and Aliens played by thankless actors in suits (and some good ol’-fashioned animatronics). Kevin Peter Hall (the original Predator) passed away shortly after the release of the film’s sequel, but Anderson has comprised an acceptable team of replacements (most of the actors being some seven feet tall!).

That, and the set design, and one or two OK action sequences, makes “AvP” adequate. If you’re just looking for the average Saturday night blow-‘em-up action flick, you could do worse. But, considering the potential, this movie continually disappoints – and worst of all, due to its PG-13 rating, the fights (which take place all too often and rapidly become boring) are all over the place. We are not “allowed” to see anything, which hinders the flow of the film.

I had been looking forward to this movie for quite some time now, being a fan of both “Alien” (1979) and “Predator” (1987). With its restrictive PG-13 rating, poor acting, awful writing and mediocre direction, “AvP” disappoints the fans at every turn. Fox has taken two of their greatest franchises and turned them into a joke. “AvP” is nothing more than typical action fare which, all considered, isn’t much of a compliment at all.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable. Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable. Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable.
  2.5 out of 5 stars

 
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