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ALIEN VS. PREDATOR: REQUIEM

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Steven Pasquale, Reiko Aylesworth, John Ortiz, Johnny Lewis, Ariel Grace
Directors: Colin Strause, Greg Strause
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: See Review
Length: 101 Minutes
Release Date: April 15, 2008

“What the f*ck are you?”

Film **

2004’s Alien vs. Predator was a grave disappointment, and you’d be hard pressed to find a fan of the dueling franchises that had a different opinion. Just the notion of the two of the most feared creatures in movie history being reduced to a lame PG-13 slugfest was an indication that it wasn’t going any justice to this new franchise. However, I was happy the movie did well enough at the box office, because it led to a sequel that promised to be bigger, badder, and most of all, R rated.

On the blood and gore factor, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem does indeed deliver and in much more satisfying doses than its predecessor. But despite a jaw dropping opening scene and a ferociously gory climax, the movie is nearly annihilated by two factors; horribly flat characters and the phenomenally bad dialogue that comes out of their mouths. And while I find this sequel to be marginally better, I must admit that I don’t even remember the characters in the first AVP uttering such inane dialogue. Not that it would’ve mattered, that movie already had the sucky storyline working against it.

What these first two AVP movies have illustrated brilliantly is that if the movie consisted only of the title creatures battling it out, the results would be incredibly better. That is, don’t allow the human characters to speak and just let them get killed. I know by this point it’s pointless to hope for stronger characters like in the original Alien and Predator movies, but that doesn’t mean the audience has to be subjected to the kind of low-grade acting and writing you’d find in a bad TV series on the Sci-Fi Channel.

The story picks up where the first AVP left off. If you recall the very last shot of the movie, which was about the only thing memorable about the film, a Predator ended up having an alien burst out of its chest, thus producing a new species, the Predalien. This new creature then slaughters the ships entire crew, causing it to crash land in Colorado. But a distress signal sent by the ship moments before the crash has alerted a lone Predator warrior, who then lands in the same area to find out what’s going on.

We then get introduced to the human character inhabiting the story, all of which are mainly forgettable. A former criminal named Dallas (Steven Pasquale) has come home only to find his younger brother, Ricky (Johnny Lewis) in a bit of trouble. Any fan of the franchise will recall the name Dallas, as it was the name of the character played by Tom Skerritt in the original Alien, but the homage doesn’t stop there, as the movie also serves up a tough female soldier named Kelly (Reiko Aylesworth), who should’ve just been named Ellen Ripley 2.0.

The entire setup for how the humans encounter the creatures is so laughably bad, you almost have to see the movie just to make sure I’m not making any of this up. Young Ricky has pissed off the bully/boyfriend of a girl he has a crush on while on a pizza route. The bully takes Ricky’s car keys and throws them in the sewer. When he tells older brother Dallas the news, he decides to go help him find his keys in the sewer. Guess who they run into while looking for the car keys?

Whose idea was it to incorporate a plot scenario from Dawson’s Creek into a movie called Aliens vs. Predator? Once you get introduced to the human characters, a good bit of which are high school teens, you get the sense that you’re watching a bad high school teen drama. And while I still label the plot of the first AVP to be as bad as any story can get, I certainly don’t remember hearing dialogue this inane being uttered.

But for its many flaws, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem is at least a notch above the first film because the elements that hardcore fans come to expect in these films is at a superior quality. Where as the first film was limited by its PG-13 rating, this one pulls out all the stops in assuring that blood, slime, gore and all sorts of grotesqueness are each in unlimited supply and at the pure R rated level. The effects are also top notch, as well as the set designs for both worlds inhabited by the Alien and Predator creatures.

And believe it or not, I came close to giving this movie a pass as I was engulfed in the movie’s amazing final half hour. When the Aliens and Predators start to wreck extreme havoc on this Colorado town, slaughtering countless humans, I was thinking to myself now this is exactly what I wanted to first AVP movie to be. But the problem is that this portion of the movie is so right in every possible way that it perfectly illustrates how weaker everything leading up to it really is.

The movie ends on an interesting note, with the indication that there will likely be another AVP movie. I’m all for it, but I have a special requests for whoever will be writing the script. It doesn’t have to be groundbreaking, but either make the human characters interesting or have them say nothing so we can just watch them get killed.

Video **1/2

There is barely a sequence in this movie filmed in daylight, so it may pay off more to watch this movie with the lights turned off. That having been said, the anamorphic presentation from Fox is decent enough, but I am reviewing a screener copy and what I’ve come to realize is that the video quality on the finished retail product is a whole lot better. There are bits of noticeable pixelation and compression, but not as much as I’m used to seeing on this screener discs. Again, expect the actual DVD release to appear a lot stronger.

Audio ****

No errors on the sound quality, though. The 5.1 mix, offered in both Dolby Digital and a most incredible DTS sound track, is a strong and phenomenally aggressive sound mix. Right from the beginning, the sound system is rocked by the ferocious sound and visual effects, as well as the thunderous score provided by composer Brian Tyler. And when the creatures start to attack the humans, all I can tell you is be prepared to have your ears assaulted big time, and I mean that in a good way!

Features ***1/2

Keeping in line with the quality of extras on the previous Alien and Predator movies, Fox has made sure to incorporate some killer extras for this new entry of the franchise. We get two commentary tracks; the first is with directors Colin and Greg Strause and producer John Davis, the second track is provided by special effects supervisors Tom Woodruff Jr. and Alec Gills. Also included are five behind the scenes featurettes; “AVP-R: Preparing For War: Development And Production”, “AVP-R: Fight To The Finish: Post-Production”, “AVP-R: The Nightmare Returns: Creating The Aliens”, “AVP-R: Crossbreed: Creating The PredAlien” and “AVP-R: Building The Predator Homeworld”. There’s also an Added Footage Marker, indicating where new scenes are in the movie, Still Galleries, Theatrical Trailers and Bonus Previews for additional Fox releases.

Summary:

Though I find myself blown away by portions of Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, I am still more than disappointed by the horrendous story set up and unbelievably thin characters. And despite the fact that this is a vast improvement over the first movie, this franchise still leaves room for extreme improvement.

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