Did you ever wish for that one, really cool holiday present? The one when you saw it in the store looked so amazing, the box on the counter seeming to promise so much. And then, lo and behold, you actually get the present! But once you’ve gotten it out from its wrappings, you discover that with the exception of one or two particularly neat bells and whistles, the gift itself is pretty much a dud, not delivering on its promise at all.
Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem is just like that present.
The film picks up where the previous film left off. The sport hunting alien Predators are leaving Earth, having defeated a brood of the mindless killing machine Aliens. However, one of their group has been infected by an Alien Facehugger, which means his chest will soon be bursting forth with a new Alien- in this case a hybrid combining aspects of both Alien and Predator. In the ensuing chaos, the Predator ship crashes near an isolated Colorado town, unleashing the Alien-Predator hybrid as well as numerous Alien Facehuggers, who promptly latch on to some of the locals to perpetuate the Alien lifecycle. Soon the town is overrun by Aliens, the Alien-Predator and a new Predator dispatched from its Homeworld to cleanup any trace of the Predator presence on Earth, with the townspeople caught between.
Responding to complaints from fans of both the Alien and Predator films that the first, PG-13 rated match-up between the two creatures didn’t carry the same punch as their separate R-rated franchises did, the film’s producers promised a more visceral and violence-filled sequel. While Alien Vs Predator: Requiem definitely amps up the action quotient between the battling alien creatures, the film makes the same mistake that the previous Alien Vs. Predator did in not giving us interesting and compelling human characters for us to root for , the way the best entries in the two separate franchises did.
The townspeople we meet are the stockest of characters. A teen from the wrong side of the tracks longs for the rich girl he can’t have. Though she likes him as a friend, her boyfriend is the violently jealous type. His older brother is a just-released ex-con trying to get his life back on track. And so on. There’s not a thing that makes any of the people caught scrambling out of the way of the warring aliens that make us care if they survive or not.
In addition to an upswing in the action, the filmmakers also try to play to franchise fans in a couple of more subtle ways. One character’s name implies a distant relation to a character from the first Alien film. Predator fans finally get a glimpse of their alien Homeworld. However, the film’s coda, which tries to retroactively forge a link between the franchises, may leave audience members who aren’t well versed in some of the Alien franchise’s trivia.
The first Alien and Predator films worked so well because these creatures were unfamiliar to the audience. However, in the intervening years, audiences have come to know these creatures, so suspense built on the unknown is not really possible here. So rather than build up any kind of suspense level, the film just starts tense and stays at that level, never evolving. Unfortunately, the effect doesn’t so much as keep one on the edge of their seat but instead tires one out before the film even reaches the halfway point of its 86 minute run time.