In comic book form, Aliens fighting Predators are a murderous match made in fanboy Heaven that ranks up there with Hulk fighting Superman and Spiderman tackling the Batman. In the movie realm, though, this AvP match-up doesn’t seem quite so heavenly, with this recent add on to the quickly tiring film franchise making you wish that these two sticky salivated monsters would just stick to duking it out in panel form rather than on your polished DVD player.
In the continuing battle of Aliens vs. Predators, who will ultimately win? Well, that’s a question that I would have been thoroughly interested in back when I was like, 12, but as a full fledged adult paying bills and investing myself in artsy-fartsy grown-up films, these monsters from other planets better be doing something other than screeching and shooting lasers and alien mouths at each other like they’ve been doing for the past couple of decades or so. Alas, that Shakespearean epic of King Lear proportions portrayed by both species that I’ve been pining for for all these years has yet to be fulfilled as this latest picture, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, gives us the same ‘ol song and dance of two famous monsters battling it out for the sake of exterminating each other and God knows what other reason.
The film takes place shortly after the last movie, which adds yet another head scratching tally to the already confusing timeline. We learn from the onset of the picture that the Predator/Alien crossbreed, or, Predalien if you will, from the orginal AvP has found itself on board a Predator mothership and wrecks havoc to all the dual jawed creatures onboard, which causes the ship to crash land on Earth. A distress signal is sent back to the Predator home planet, which looks very pretty in a CG sort of way, and a lone Predator goes down to Earth to wrestle with the various Aliens that are now creeping about the Earth’s serface. Don’t even ask me why only a single Predator went down instead of about four or five, because I really can’t answer that question for you.
Long story short (even though at only 94 minutes long, it still feels like it’s over two hours and some change), the Predator finds the Aliens on Earth, blows them all to hell, and then, well, the closing credits come up and that’s the end of the movie. What’s in between all that mumbo jumbo, though, is an abysmal trip down a road we feel like we’ve been down over a hundred times before. That’s because there really isn’t any variety to this film other than the fact that this R-rated sequel is a bit more violent than the last PG-13 movie, which means, more guts, more gore, and more pregnant women bursting at the seams from alien babies.
That said, it shouldn’t be any surprise then to see women and children torn to shreds by these horrific creatures, but surprisingly, it still is. In the first few minutes of the movie, we see a father and son going hunting and sharing some bonding time, only to find that both die a grisly, blood splattering death from a flying facehugger. Seeing the father’s arm fall off isn’t so bad, really, but did the kid really have to buy the farm, too?
And speaking of harmless victims, the same goes for a later scene in the movie where bums in the sewer get torn to shreds just for having the misfortune of being bums in the sewer. These violent scenes aren’t so much awesome as they are shameworthy in the fact that the Strause Brothers who directed the film could find such gruesome thrills out of the destruction of the young and the poor. I’m a forgiving man though and would turn a blind eye to all this senseless violence if it went to some really amazing fight sequences, but even that doesn’t come into fruition as this film just drags, drags, drags all the way to the very end.
The action that takes place between the aliens and the predator isn’t even all that fun to watch, as the overwhelming darkness that pervades the film cloaks most of the slashes and chockholds that we came to see in the first place. I mean, for a horror movie like the original Alien, that works just fine as it builds suspense and mystery, but for a mindless brawl between two grotesque creatures meant to be seen, in full detail, mind you, that’s just not going to fly. When the crossbreed Predalien finally meets the Predator at the end of the movie, it doesn’t really feel like a stand-off between two great foes as it does a battle between two monsters who are past their prime and fighting in the darkness of a shoe closet, which leads to a very anti-climatic, just-get-it-over-with battle, that goes by as quickly as you would hope for.
In a way, Alien vs. Predator: Requeim, with its macaroni and cheese love story, wooden characters, and lame battle scequences actually makes me wonder why I even fell in love with either series in the first place, but then I realize it’s because they were both genuinely good franchises. The first and second Alien movies are undenieable classics, not because of the horrific aliens, though they definitely play a part, but because of Officer Ripley, who made an entirely unbelievable story both believable and humanly terrifying. The same goes for the original Predator (Let’s not even mention the terrible Danny Glover sequel), which was more a story about Arnold fighting off an unbeatable creature and surviving than anything else—the prey becoming the eventual predator. But when it’s just the two monsters from their respective series blasting and biting each other to kingdom come, the story becomes just that—two monsters, with high tech slime, clawing at each other’s throats until you can’t take it anymore.
The reason this movie, and the last one as well, are no equivalent to their own respective series, is because there’s no human heart in either of them, both literally or figuratively. Instead, it’s just a mish-mash of fists and phasers that never really seem to lock and load like you would expect them to. Pass on this clunker and watch both the Alien Quadrilogy and Predator separately to feel that grotesque feeling of overall dread that you’ve been hoping to feel for the past couple of decades now.
Featured among the special features for the DVD are not one, but two commentaries, one by the directors of the film, and the other by co-designers, Tom Woodruff Jr. and Alec Gillis. The co-designer commentary is a complete waste of time, as talk about wet suits underneath the monster’s costumes and long johns worn underneath the wet suits are about as interesting as the commentary gets from the corny co-designers. At least the Strause Brothers, who are discussing their directorial debut, and their producer, John Davis, provide some lightweight entertainment, as their knowledge of both series respective sagas is both impressive and kind of creepy with how much backstory they know.
Banter on why they enjoy seeing little kids get mauled by monsters and mother’s giving stomach ripping births to facehuggers is also a prime topic for discussion on the commentary, but sadly, the brothers never once mention why some of the shots can’t be seen worth a damn because they’re so padded with intermittent darkness. We do learn, though, that the Predator and the Predalien both have names, which are Wolf and Chet, respectively, if that’s any consolation to you.
Also on this Unrated set is a footage marker that reveals brief scenes that weren’t actually in the theatrical release, and for good reason, too, if that’s all they really left out. Featurettes and stills round out the rest of the special features, all of which are boring and way too long to warrant actually watching them. One featurette in particular, though, is actually pretty interesting in that it references the far better older pictures in the series that these versus films are paying such close homage to. “Crossbreed: Creating a Predalien,” showcases how the original designs of the Alien would mesh with a Predator if the two were actually bred, and the feature on the Predator homeworld is also relevant in showcasing how much work had to go into creating a less than one minute scene. It just goes to show that no matter how bad a movie is, a good amount of time and effort still has to go into making every last scene come alive.