Thursday, 8 October 2009
AVPR: Aliens vs Predator - Requiem
Researching this atrocity, I was struck by one fact: it isn't the special effects creators of each creature that gets continued credit, it's the writers who worked on the original films. Whilst I have no problem with writers getting their due - neither series would exist if those people hadn't got their think on - it just seems an ethical dereliction to not name HR Giger as the creator of the Alien, nor Stan Winston as the Predator's.
Both species are broad ideas on the page, given fantastical, expressive life by their respective designs. Giger crafted an exoskeleton penis that wandered and loomed in its space-nest; Winston was given a brief that asked for a dog-man, instead he turned in an enormous Masai with dreadlocks and mandibles. The blueprints for both monsters were so strong that immediate sequels only sought to embellish them. In Aliens James Cameron and Stan Winston crossed the Giger form with a Black Widow spider, and gave us the Alien Queen. For Predator 2, Winston simply worked up some gee-whizz gadgets and gave the intergalactic hunter a steeper forehead.
AVPR: Aliens vs Predator 2 - Requiem doesn't turn in any radical reworkings of either creature: the Alien looks to be a mish-mash of the warrior suit from Cameron's film, and Alien Resurrection's lanky clones. Meanwhile, the Predator seems to be directly inherited from LA 1997. The directors, who choose to be credited as The Brothers Strause, don't appear to have any real interest in either monster, or their visual aesthetic.
Apart from a few mime sequences framed from a Predator viewpoint, the majority of this film is made up of scenes that establish the boring slasher prey; cut-out nobodies who hate their jobs and are bullied by stock jocks. These phantoms burn screen-time. When it does remember to return to the beasts, the film is slick with an almost impenetrable darkness. Both monsters are shot in tight, geography denying close-up. There's a presumption that they're clashing, but you can't be quite sure.
Experimentation is reserved for this instalment's big idea - a cross-pollination. The dreadfully named Predalien skulks about the place abusing barely established women and leading its pack of lobotomised insects. The Predator DNA splice has created a life-cycle defying super stud who can vomit up embryonic offspring. All the better to cram in as many targets as possible. It's worth noting that said children do not retain any of the Predalien's features, mediocre human alignment wins out there.
AVPR is a depressingly minor addition to either saga. The alien comes off worse, an Old God bio-weapon reduced to a sewer skulking bottom feeder. The Predator is at least allowed a baffling, bureaucratic mindset - dispatched to Earth on a clean-up mission, the hunter liberally applies a blue gunk to any shred of xenomorph evidence, instantly dissolving it. When a community cop stumbles across this cosmic clean-up operation does the Predator attempt to conceal his presence? Nope. He skins and maims the bystander, hanging up what's left for others to find. You get where he's coming from though. You've got to find joy in your work.