Alien Vs Predator
Ah, the joy of low expectations. Hardcore fans -- or those who expect the quality of the original 'Alien' movies -- will likely be disappointed by 'Alien vs. Predator.' Everybody else is in for a rather entertaining, end-of-summer action camp-fest, silly like 'The Mummy' but with far more disgusting enemies.
Charles Bishop Weyland (Lance Henriksen, in a nod to 'Aliens' and 'Alien 3') is a billionaire industrialist whose satellites have picked up massive amounts of heat emanating from Antarctica. Global warming run amok? Sorry, nothing quite that sinister. Turns out it's just an Alien, chained up for centuries and feeling increasingly maternal. Armed with a computerized blueprint of a enormous, ancient, underground temple, a team of scientists headed by guide Alexa Woods (Sanaa Lathan, from 'Out of Time'), and anthropologist Sebastian De Rosa (Raoul Bova, from 'Under the Tuscan Sun'), are sent to explore, as Predators watch over them menacingly from the mother ship above. The humans soon discover that they are the undercard on a millennia-old battle royale, in which Predators return to Earth every 100 years to do battle with Aliens. These Aliens prove to be so obstinate in their ickiness however, that a Predator and a human are forced to team up.
The filmmakers appear to have cast one speaking part from every single country in Europe. What else would we expect from a "German-Anglo-Canadian-Hungarian co-production"? The tradeoff for all those tax incentives is an array of confusing accents that make the stilted dialogue rather amusing. Bova, with his thick Italian accent and Calvin Klein model looks, provokes plenty of snickers as the intuitive temple-digger, warning of "la luna cacciatore, zee hunter's moon". Ewen Bremner (Spud from 'Trainspotting') as a young geologist is even more difficult to understand, and that's with English as his native tongue. Agathe De La Bouhaye provides some female eye candy. (That is, of course, until an Alien face-hugger ruins her looks and her figure by bursting from her chest cavity moments later.) Lathan is fine in the lead, but following the likes of Sigourney Weaver and Arnold Schwarzenegger is a thankless mission. The filmmakers should have just gone for broke and pumped her up into a complete badass. With the entire picture an exercise in goofy excess. Why back down and make the heroine even remotely normal? And although the much-debated alliance of humans and Predators isn't as far-fetched as it might seem, there is still a very strange, tender, sexually charged moment between the two species that sent the room I was in into paroxysms of laughter. If AVP2 is on the back burner at Fox, they might want to give Thomas Ian Griffith a ring.
Fans of the hardcore violence of these series are probably confused by the kiddie-friendly PG-13 rating. They shouldn't be. This is most definitely a hard PG-13, with all the violence and profanity the law allows. We witness numerous impalings of all three species, although the camera doesn't linger quite the way it did in the originals. It isn't very scary though, and that's a disappointment. The main problem is that the humans have absolutely zero invested in the battle before them. They don't even act as if it's particularly odd that they have suddenly come upon two uber-races of slimed out killers battling towards Apocalypse in an ancient thunderdome 2,000 feet below the South Pole. At one point Alexa reminds us, "If these things get out, it could mean the end of the human race." Oh yeah, that. Director Paul W. S. Anderson has made quite a career by catering to the Comic Con crowd, with 'Resident Evil' and 'Mortal Kombat' already on his resume. That he should need to include his middle initials to avoid confusion with the other Paul ('Boogie Nights') Anderson is laughable. A six-year-old child living on the banks of the Amazon could tell the difference.
'Alien vs. Predator' isn't terrible, and that shock alone is almost enough to recommend it. Sure, it's campy, but so were the originals. The lack of any great shocking jolts however pretty much destroys the only good reason to see it in a theater.