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Alien vs. Predator: Frank's Take

01/10/2004. Contributed by Frank Ochieng

Buy Alien vs. Predator in the USA - or Buy Alien vs. Predator in the UK

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Director Paul W.S. Anderson serves up a meager monster mash spectacle that borders on the silly-minded and slimy by sizing up the terrorizing tag-team of creature feature cads Alien and the Predator in the obviously titled scarefest Alien vs. Predator.

Alien vs. Predator (2004) 20th Century Fox
1 hour 35 minutes.
Starring: Sanaa Lathan, Lance Henriksen, Raoul Bova, Ewen Bremner, Colin Salmon. Directed by: Paul W. S. Anderson

Director Paul W.S. Anderson serves up a meager monster mash spectacle that borders on the silly-minded and slimy by sizing up the terrorizing tag-team of creature feature cads Alien and the Predator in the obviously titled scarefest Alien vs. Predator. Anderson, who has demonstrated his nasty knack for conveying kinetic killing sequences in frothy fare such as Mortal Combat, Resident Evil, and Event Horizon, surprisingly doesn't invigorate AVP with the snappy cat-and-mouse deathtrap deliciousness that it boastfully promises.



In fact, Anderson wastes the on-screen presence of two of the big screen's charismatic drooling vile varmints as he saddles them down in a sluggish shrill showdown of posturing pests and the hapless humans that foolishly mingle in the moping, macabre mayhem.

There is a gimmicky aspect to AVP that's somewhat intriguing and refreshing. As some may recall, moviegoers got a kick out of the sparring butchering bad boys Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees when they confronted one another with their legendary slashing-minded high jinks. Naturally, it's an exploitative concept that is waiting to be challenged in all its outrageous sensationalism.

But all Anderson manages to do is routinely helm a murky and ludicrous thriller that mines scatterbrained scares and conjures up an atmospheric dud that dismisses its penetrating potential. Sadly, AVP is nothing more than a dyspeptic and droll display that yearns to breathe life into two forgotten frightfest franchises that should have been thrown out with the bathwater.

For those not familiar with the background bio of the titular treacherous tandem, here's the 'reel' deal. Alien is the multi-layered, sharp-toothed phallus-looking scrubby beast with the filthy disposition that had tangled with Sigourney Weaver's defiant soldier Ripley and her crew in the dark and dank dimension of space during the course of three frivolous films. Predator is the dastardly dreadlocked demon that tangled with mighty muscled Arnold Schwarzenegger in the dense jungle and later filled Danny Glover's dubious dancecard in an anemic sequel. Now the tumultuous twosome finds themselves at odds in a blood battle based below the surface of the Antarctic Ice. Let the grimy games begin!

A billionaire (Lance Henriksen from Aliens) funds a research trip to visit a mysterious pyramid thousands of feet below the Antarctic tundra. Lovely leader and ice-climbing enthusiast (Sanaa Lathan from Love & Basketball) and her crew diligently explore the depths of this ominous venue until they become reluctant pawns in the struggle for superiority between the warring rogues Alien and Predator.

The group finally realizes that the pyramid is designed as a menacing maze where being the hunter has the advantages of not being considered the hunted. And thus the question remains: will the headstrong humans avoid the friction of these carnivorous cretins and dodge the notion of being food for thought while clinging on to their periled lives? Apparently this is a gloomy game of chance and our weary travelers will find how precious their existence is if they want to dodge becoming an appetizer for the persistent and pesky critters.

As a ribald presentation, Alien vs. Predator is an aesthetically pleasing entertainment that's vibrantly appealing in its makeup. The set design is wonderfully imaginative and moody in its shade of varying cynical coloring. The lighting is spry and captive. And the special effects enhances the tension and gives a whole new outlook to how fearful and ferocious we remembered the Alien and Predator from past lascivious encounters. Yet with these positive factors involved, Anderson fails to connect the dotted lines and serves up an unintentional laugher that never capitalizes on its premise to shock us convincingly.

This glorified rollicking B-movie could have had fun and flavor if the focus was more in tune with the rhythm of its meandering momentum. The hollow characters and the ridiculously stilted dialogue render this cheesy chiller a sour sense of cheapness and incompleteness.

Curiously, our monotonous misfits Alien and Predator aren't as wily or wicked as we would like them to be given their revered raucous reputations. Sure they snarl and look hideous on cue as they snack on the vulnerable visitors as one would a tasty ham sandwich while carrying on their ongoing feud. However, there's a ho hum feeling about this whole proceeding that feels relentlessly recycled and forced. Frankly, Anderson's pseudo nail-biting narrative has the hyped energy and plucky personality of an overactive video game.

And no, this is not a flattering comparison when a pleasurable plugged-in electronic toy can rival the enthusiasm and subpar execution of a robust feature length film starring two of the cinema's highly touted moneymaking miscreants.

In an eager summertime at the movies where hungry audiences are vying for legitimate goosebumps at the local theater complex, the disappointing notion is that Alien vs. Predator is nothing more than a mere mosquito bite for avid horror/sci-fi fans.

Frank Ochieng

(c) Frank Ochieng 2004. All rights reserved.

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