361 – Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem

The five of you who have read past the title and are here, in the body of the review, I have this to tell you – it ain’t that bad. Sure, this is the sixth or fourth in a rapidly declining series, and as the Law of Sequels tells us, the farther away from the first movie we get, the quality of each film decreases exponentially. Or proportionally. But I don’t want to get all mathy on you.

The film before this showed the long-awaited pairing of the Aliens and the Predator, and for the most part the result was pretty compelling. This time around, in a scene reminiscent of the original Alien movie, an interloping alien emerges from the prone body of a Predator and attacks the crew, causing their spaceship to plummet to a little blue-green planet. Before you know it, alien face-huggers are implanting themselves into a hunter and his son and then birthing chest-bursters near a small, unsuspecting Colorado town.

Meanwhile – and really germane to the plot – the Predators have sent another of their kind down to Earth to destroy any evidence of their crashed (and dead, apparently) and to eradicate the Aliens. Which is a pretty fair fight, since the Predator has a lot of big guns and can turn invisible, and the Aliens can spit acid and slap you about the face and head. Of course, humans get caught in the crossfire, as they did in the movie’s immediate predecessor.

There are a lot of standard structures in this movie, such as the virginal (ahem) high school queen; the bad boy; the bad boy’s older brother, who’s an ex-con, and so on. People routinely wander into unlit areas for no reason other than to get slaughtered, and it’s pretty clear from the git-go that the humans in this story are there merely to give us something to care about.

Because let’s face it. The Predator is in his watery-invisible form for most of the movie, and the Aliens are dark, and they all fight in dark, dark areas. With no humans, no recognizable faces, we might as well be watching polar bears in a snowstorm. Not only that, but – as with the last film – the audience can get someone for whom to root, in this case, the ineffectual, victimized humans who fire what amount to BB guns at a Sherman tank. Remember the tagline from the last movie? “Whoever wins, we lose?”

For the first couple thirds of the movie, the humans act stupid and/or dully, acting as mere befuddled targets than people you’d care about. Except, of course, for the people who would somehow make it to the final third of the movie. Don’t worry, they’re easy to pick out; everyone else is easy to pick off.

And certainly, it wouldn’t be a sci-fi movie without some kind of potential government coverup/conspiracy/meddling; thankfully, that thread isn’t introduced until well into the movie, which means we don’t spend half the film with the specter of the Evil Goverment That’s Out to Destroy Everyone. Good thing, because more enemies just complicates things.

Bottom line is that the final twenty minutes or so definitely make up for the lousy pacing and the lack of tension in the first hour. I mean, things were so bad that you could easily predict what would happen to a character you just met. Death scenes were telegraphed with a giant beacon that said “PERSON DIES HERE. BLOOD SPURTS.” And make no mistake, this is a grisly movie that delights in people getting slaughtered in fun and exciting ways, involving evisceration. Or getting poked in the eye or chest. Or flaying. And no groups are spared – not women, not children, and not even pregnant women. It’s a real windfall for aficionados of equal-opportunity gore.

**1/2

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