Friday, 25 January 2008

AVP R - Aliens vs Predator - Requiem


Directed by: The Brothers Strause
Screenplay: Shane Salerno
Starring: Reiko Aylesworth, Steven Pasquale and John Oritz

Fanboys have a lot to answer for. When the first Aliens vs. Predator (AVP) was released in 2004, there was uproar about the watered downed violence, terrible characteritization and general murdering of two beloved franchises. AVP is a serviceable film, at once entertaining but also frustrating. Not great but no where near as bad as you may have heard. The outcry was at least right in the fact the film had been watered down way too much. It’s Alien and Predator: there is supposed to be no holds barred chest bursting, spine ripping action from the get go. So after much boo hooing, ridicule and general hysteria from the online community, Fox and directors, The Brother Strause took all these complaints in and went the direction of an all out bloody, R-rated horror fest for the inevitable sequel, AVP R. That awesome red band trailer was released, hype was built and the film finally arrived. Yet, once again the fanboy internet community is in turmoil, bleating and wailing that AVP R is another fine mess. A mess, maybe, but a great, bloody, limb severing, gut spewing, hardcore mess. Come on fan boys, stop elevating movies to mythical type proportions and start enjoying the fun, groovy, gory ride this flick delivers. You wanted blood, guts and none of that human’s make friends with Predator nonsense: well here it is.

Now, AVP R is no way a great film and by all rights could have been a little tighter, a little tenser and maybe a good ten minutes longer but it certainly delivers the Alien on Predator action the title suggests. I think it's been firmly established that any further sequels to Aliens and Predator will never live up to the originals and that’s pretty much been the case since Alien 3 was released almost sixteen years ago. Leave expectation behind and enjoy the fact that The Brothers Strause have at least crafted an intense and gory flick that pays homage to both characters and even brings back some of the cooler aspects of the original films. The Predator character is the slim line version last seen in Predator 2 and not the bulky cartoon looking monstrosity from AVP. Its groovy theme tune and thermal vision are also back and made good use of. There is a ton of Aliens this time around, and they make for a striking visual running around a modern American town. The Predalien may be underutilized but it does get in a couple of good scraps and is mercifully not CGI’d out the wazoo. Once the action and gore kicks in, it never lets up with several set pieces being well staged, not least an extremely gory scene set in a hospital. And any film, especially an Alien or Predator film, that pins one its main characters to a wall with a giant blade, is doing something right.

The films does drop the ball with its lack of tension and gaping plot holes (too many to mention here) and the fact that gorgeous and talented Reiko Aylesworth is actually sidelined for most of the action, despite the trailers promising otherwise. Characterization is thin but the actors actually perform well and are more rounded than the first AVP. The trailer, especially the red band one, gave away the whole movie meaning there is no sense of surprise and every money shot has already been seen. The setting, a small American town, provides a nice visual backdrop for the beasties to face off, but the Dawson Creek lite storyline does mire the film in some tedium. Bring it back to the city or jungle, or better yet, space.

Yet, this is a monster movie and for the most part, a monster movie that delivers. Fans wanted blood, guts, gore and more Alien/Predator action and that’s what they got. Yes, it would be great to have deep characterization, intricate plots and the sense of dread and tension of the originals but movies are made differently nowadays and prospects of achieving these aspects is probably no more than a pipe dream. However, monsters, fights and kids having Aliens burst from their chests (a brave move for a studio film) are all delivered with aplomb and if you can let yourself go, AVP R provides a fun, gross time at the movies. Come on, lighten up.

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