AVP: Alien vs. Predator

written and directed by Paul Anderson

"starring" Sanaa Lathan, Ewen Bremner and an embarassed Lance Henriksen

review by Stephen Notley

It's hard to generate any enthusaiasm for AVP: Alien vs Predator; it's just such a slab of hamburger, without flair or ornamentation or flavor. Sure, I mean *yes*, we get to see some Aliens fight some Predators -- but what can that truly mean for us any more? If we've ever been the kind of people who cared to see Aliens fight Predators, then surely by now we've already played the video games and read the comics and had most of the fun with the idea that we're likely ever gonna get. We know that Predators like to seed planets with Aliens in order to hunt them, and then when humans get mixed up in it the Aliens get out of control, all the Predators but one are killed and the last Predator ends up working with what remains of the humans --usually a plucky Riplesque woman-- to fight off the Alien Horde. That's how it goes. We all know that. Are we really gonna get anything new by watching the movie?

AVP:AVP is by Paul Anderson of Mortal Kombat, Event Horizon, Soldier and Resident Evil, all kinda-crappy movies, and AVP:AVP sludgily fits right in. The thing I remember most is the lack of color; it's a very blodgy, grey film, invoking neither the chilling design sense and dread of Alien nor the gasoline-powered macho confrontationalism of Predator. It's just, y'know, some monsters fighting.

They sure make you put up with a lot of superboring human stuff before we get to monsters fighting though, let me tell you. It's set today, in the present, and Lance Henriksen (Bishop from the Alien films) has just discovered a temple buried under the Antarctic ice, so he leaps into action and puts together a crack team of nobodies, seriously dull and uninteresting people, out of whom only Ewen Bremner (Spud from Trainspotting) creates even a blip, earning for him the right to exit the movie early through the inevitable ignominious death characters like him always receive.

And so the humans basically truck out to the temple --essentially a Tomb Raider-style video-game level, right down to the stupido shifting walls and doors gimmick-- there to click the buttons and set loose the Aliens and get killed.

But who cares if the human characters are boring, right? This isn't about them! It's about *Aliens* vs *Predator*, dude, who comes out on top? Well, I don't think I'm spoiling too much to say "neither", or perhaps "both, but at different times"; we must grant the Aliens a couple of good Predator takedowns, and the one Predator guy does rack up some Alien kills.

But to what end? I went into this movie ready to like it, waiting for that first awesome thing that would make me go "Yeah!" Halfway through I was still waiting, and as I was indifferently led through a cheap haunted house I gradually came to realize that the collision of Alien and Predator meant nothing. It told me nothing about how to be a human being --or, for that matter, how to be a hive creature or a huntocratic warrior. At least in Freddy vs. Jason one had enough whiff of character at least to perceive a sense of insult and revenge. In AVP, does it matter a good goddamn whether A or P wins? Either way, as the movie's own tagline avers, "we lose." Truer words were never taglined.

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