10 February 2008

Aliens vs Predator: Requiem Review

You know you’re in trouble when a pair of special effects supervisors take the helm of a movie and then – rather pretentiously –dub themselves ‘The Brothers Strause’. It’s, unfortunately, simple fact. In recent memory, how many SFX supervisors turned directors have actually produced a good film? Struggling for an answer, aren’t you? And no, James McTeigue does not count. He was a Second Unit Director, y’see.

Okay, so I’ll man up and admit that I was maybe a tiny bit excited about the new AvP. The simple fact that Paul WS Anderson made such a bloody hash of the first one (no gore? In a movie that pits brutal, gory killer versus brutal, gory killer? Nice decision, numbnuts) meant that the franchise had more or less nowhere to go but up. Or so I thought. Oh how wrong I was.

First thing’s first, let’s get the meaningless criticisms aside. After all, no-one’s expecting a true, subtle masterwork of Citizen Kane proportions. The acting is puerile, the script weak as cream crackers, the characters underdeveloped and total clichés, and the driving force behind the plot so contrived that it’s probably able to tongue its own arse.

The story - such as it is - follows straight on from the previous movie. The predalien that we saw being birthed chews its way through a shipful of predators, causing it to crash land in Unamedsville, America. The predators, being a wiley bunch, send another of their number to control the infestation. It's brainless, full of plot holes - if they keep aliens on board their ship, why did they need to have them frozen under the Arctic circle? - and rather insulting to anyone's intelligence. That and it undermines the essence predators. Meant to be the ultimate hunters, these ones simply lack any brains whatsoever, and so how are we supposed to be convinced that these guys can clean up the mess? Especially when they only send one predator to sort it out. Seriously, what the fuck?

That out the way, we come to my major beef with the film – the direction. If there could’ve been one single saving grace, it would’ve been some flashily directed action and some interesting set pieces. Surprise, surprise, Colin and Greg, bless them, fail magnificently at anything even vaguely resembling intelligent direction. The films signature tussle – a rooftop battle between the Predator and the newly created Predalien – is little more than a prolonged poking match between two men in bad rubber costumes.

Oh, and they’re also a pair of misogynistic morons. I hate throwing that word around – because it seems inherently sexist to me, seeing as it’s okay to kill and maim men, but do it to women and suddenly you’re a bad person… - but there is very little else to describe what’s going on here. Most of the brutal killings happen to the female characters – including a particularly twisted ‘birth’ scene that was just so brainless and sickening that I honestly felt like walking out of the cinema – and their pathetic attempt to make up for it with the stereotypical ‘army chick’ – of which Reiko Aylseworth should be fucking ashamed – does nothing but emphasise the whole issue.

It’s such a shame, because video games have proven that this little battle of the extra terrestrials can be done with intelligence, class and a little bit of humour. What remains is something of a cinematic turd. Of course, it’ll have its fans, but they’re clearly either as brainless as the Strauses, or their SFX chums. The morons.

Ross' Rating: 3

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