Alien Versus Predator is a film that attempts to address the question, “What happens when the unstoppable forces from two different film franchises collide?” As it turns out, the answer isn’t as exciting or interesting as one would hope.
After being discovered by satellite, a team of scientists are dispatched to investigate a pyramid hidden deep in a cave under the Antarctic ice shelf. Led by an expert in arctic survival Alexa Woods (Sanaa Lathan) and Charles Weyland (Lance Henriksen) the owner of the company financing the expedition, the crew discovers that the pyramid is an unbelievable blending of Egyptian, Cambodian and Aztec design. Exploring the pyramid the group suddenly finds itself caught between seemingly unstoppable killer aliens and another group of aliens who hunt the mindless killers for sport.
The Alien and Predator franchises share some similarities. The best films of both series introduce us to a cast of strong, well-defined characters that are thrust into an extraordinary situation. The audience knows that they are all not going to make it and so spend their time rooting for their favorites to avoid getting killed by whichever creature is stalking them. Alien Versus Predator takes the same approach, but only superficially. Sure there’s a big group of characters to serve as fodder for the inevitable fatal attacks. However, the movie doesn’t seem interested in supplying any sort of back-story or characterization for most of them. There is one scientist who is given some perfunctory dialogue about having kids, but it comes off stilted and forced. When it comes time for the cast to start being picked off Ten Little Indians style, one is left not caring whether any of the characters survive or not.
Alien Versus Predator is a film that strongly wishes to recreate the thrills of both series but fails miserably in the attempt. One of the initial encounters between the aliens and the predators is shot so close and edited so quickly that it’s impossible to make out what is actually happening. Since the film is being sold strictly on the allure of these two monsters fighting it out, this comes as a disappointment. The film’s pacing is non-existent. Things just happen one after another, with no sense of building momentum. The film doesn’t so much as arrive at its climax as it does stumble across it. But as virtually everything else in this film is a miss-step, this comes as no surprise.
There’s plenty in this film for fans of either franchise to nitpick. The aliens are certainly taller here than they were ever shown in their own series and the chestbursters seem to gestate a lot faster than we have previously seen. Also, how do the predators know that there will be humans in such a remote location to act as incubators for the aliens? Many fans are going to be disappointed that the decidedly R rated gore and violence levels of the original films have been toned down for a more box-office friendly PG-13 rating. However, such quibbles are just kicking a bad movie when it’s already down.
If the purpose of this whole cross-franchise exercise was to find a way to generate new excitement for the separate series, than Alien Versus Predator has succeeded admirably. I for one can’t wait to see a good new Alien or Predator film after sitting through this substandard mess.