Opening Tuesday, December 25th
Directed by Greg & Colin Strause
We’ll start with the good, because there isn’t much there, but most of the decent aspects of the film revolve around why anyone might shell out their good dollars to see another “Alien vs. Predator” movie and that’s the creatures. The sequel’s directors The Brothers Strause did their homework and kept all the things we’ve come to expect from an “Alien” or a “Predator” movie, including all the weapons and ways that the two creatures can kill. Even so, for some reason seeing people getting attacked and killed by various creature incarnations isn’t nearly as effective as it was back in the ’70s and ’80s because they’re using the same technology, which seems cheesy nowadays.
Movies like this rely heavily on production design and a lot of this just looks fake, despite having moved the action to the real world, which one assumes would be easier. For the most part, the film is so poorly lit that when the lone predator faces attacking aliens that you can’t always tell exactly what is going on, because in battle, the creatures look far too similar. In fact, most of the time we see the creatures, they’re in the dark–maybe to hide the zippers on the creature suits–and lots of convenient plot devices are inserted to create the suitable dark environments like a town-wide blackout. On the other hand, we see more of the advanced Predator technology than seen in the earlier movies and we even see the creature’s homeworld, and while the Predator once again becomes more of the protagonist, the directors tend to overuse the “Predator-vision” in the first half of the movie.
While the creature action makes the film look expensive, corners were obviously cut with a poorly-written script and the equally poor quality of the acting. Sure, maybe I’m being naÃ¯ve or I’m expecting too much, but some might remember that the first “Alien” movie directed by one Ridley Scott had a top-notch cast and is still considered a sci-fi horror classic, probably because it was so well-written and genuinely scary. Here, we’re given the obligatory character stereotypes and cliches found in a bad teen slasher flick, most of the flimsy subplot revolving around the pizza boy and the hot blonde he has a crush on, which is more like something you might find on “Smallville,” because everyone acts like they’re from Colorado via Los Angeles.
The human subplots and the characters are so weak that you don’t even care as some of the key people are picked off in the battle, and the non-creature scenes are so boring that you might find your mind wandering to some of the logistics of the two time-tested creatures. Like for instance, why are we still calling them “aliens” or “predators” when both species in the war are both aliens AND predators? Then there’s the matter of the aliens’ ridiculous way of procreating that always requires a host to breed, which makes you wonder how there’ll ever be enough aliens to keep things interesting since they pose very little challenge to the lone predator. This is answered with a repulsive scene where we find out how the larger non-Queen aliens can create more baby aliens. (Imagine the “baby zombie” scene in “Dawn of the Dead” as a reference.)
Although the dialogue is bad across the board, my favorite bad NRA-approved line was “”People are dyingâ¦ we need guns!” and sure enough, by the last act, the entire town is packing heat and using guns as if gun training was part of the kids’ high school phys ed program. Predictably, the whole thing leads up to the most obvious clichÃ©-filled ending possible involving the ubiquitous corrupt military turning their back on the town, but then leaving things open-ended for presumably another movie… or maybe it’s just further setting these two movies up for a prequel to the first “Alien” movie. Who knows, who cares? If the thought of Aliens fighting Predators sounded cool a few years ago, this movie shows that it’s decidedly less cool when you have to actually try to come up with a plot around the fighting scenes.
The Bottom Line: