ALIEN VS. PREDATOR
Review by Gordon Justesen
Sanaa Lathan, Raoul Bova, Ewen Bremmer, Tommy Flanagan, Lance Henriksen
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1, French Dolby Surround, Spanish Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: See Review
Length: 100 Minutes
Release Date: January 25, 2005
enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
vs. Predator represents
perhaps the biggest missed opportunity made by any movie in a good long while.
Next to Freddy Kruger taking on Jason Voorhees, this was one of the most highly
anticipated movie concepts ever to come along. Ever since the AVP
comic book was created some years back, fans couldn't wait to see this
confrontation reach the big screen.
And the end result
is a movie that had the potential to be so much more enthralling, but doesn't
even want to try. It takes the formula established by both the Alien
and Predator movies. Take a group of characters, place them in dark,
claustrophobic setting, and watch them get picked off one by one. But what
really sinks this movie is a so-called surprise turn near the end of the movie
that is laughable and just about unacceptable.
The movie's plot
concerns a group of scientists/archeologists who journey to Antarctica, where a
unique form of a pyramid has been detected. The expedition is being led by
businessman Charles Bishop Weyland (Lance Henriksen, whose role somehow relates
to his robotic character in Aliens and
Alien 3). There's a female team
leader named Alexa Woods (Sanaa Lathan), language decoder Sebastian (Raoul Bova)
and documenter Graeme (Ewen Bremmer).
The catch to
finding this special artifact is that they will have to dig thousands of feet
beneath the surface to retrieve it. It isn't too long before they find
themselves as prey by two species of creatures. As it turns out, the group has
stumbled into the middle of a pivotal war between the Predators and the Aliens.
I will give Alien
vs. Predator credit for a couple of nicely staged action scenes. When the
Predator first spots the human prey, the attack is nicely executed. The same can
be said for the Alien face-hugger's first assault. Plus, about midpoint in the
movie, there is an awesome physical fight between a Predator and an Alien.
There's an exciting slow motion shot of Predator slinging the Alien into the
air like a frisbee.
But at the same
time, those sequences are too short, and it takes about 30-40 minutes to get to
them due to a little too much plot exhibition. Mind you, the plot is one that
has been done before in countless other movies, some of which are clones of both
the Alien and Predator movies.
crucial problem with this movie, and that is the fact that it's rated PG-13.
While the rating limits the level of blood and gore that can be allowed, Alien
vs. Predator does happen to contain about as much gore and violence as
I've ever seen in a movie with this rating, but I must pose a question. Would
it have hurt the movie any worse if it been given an R rating, thus allowing
more of what the audience comes to expect in a movie where both Predator and
Alien are the big stars? These were two franchises that were popular for the R
rated ways in which both characters offed their human victims, so to give it
this rating is somewhat absurd.
What saves this
from being a much worse movie are the nicely staged attack sequences that I
mentioned. At least I can say that Alien
vs. Predator isn't as worse as the horrid Alien Resurrection, which I thought buried the franchise back in
1997. Since the last shot of the movie hints at the possibility of a sequel, my
only hope is that it will be a much stronger and engaging movie.
No complaints in
this area. Fox has done a most commanding job with this astounding anamorphic
presentation. Picture quality is 100% strong and clear, making the most out of
every single shot, which is saying a lot since there very little daytime of
light-heavy shots in the entire movie. Darkness is at a high, but the amazing
picture quality demonstrates that it's possible to make a grand presentation
despite any dark settings. A full screen version is available separately.
Nothing but high
comments in this department. The 5.1 mix supplied, if anything, made this
presentation better since the movie itself was more than disappointing. Dynamic
range is in full effect for the entire movie. Once the characters are placed in
beneath the surface, it's a show-stopping array of digital sounding
brilliance. The action amongst the channels will rock you senseless! Congrats to
Fox for delivering one of the first great sound performances of the year.
Two versions of the
movie are included on the disc; the theatrical version and an extended edition
which includes an alternate opening. Two commentary tracks are featured; one
with director Paul W.S. Anderson and actors Sanaa Lathan and Lance Henriksen,
and the second with visual effects artists Alec Gills, Tom Woodruff Jr., and
John Bruno. Also featured are three deleted scenes, a making of featurette, a
comic book cover gallery, an Inside Look at several upcoming Fox releases, and