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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

REVIEW - "Aliens vs. Predator - Requiem" (2007)

So after reviewing an incredible movie, how appropriate is it to review a bad one? The Alien and Predator franchises were once respectable. Ridley Scott directed the original “Alien,” which has been dubbed by many as “the scariest movie ever made.” “Aliens” was a legendary follow up by James Cameron and “Predator,” while not quite up to the same bar as the early Alien movies, was an action movie masterpiece by director John McTiernan. (A man who has recently become a hack, but was once quite reputable.) Now we reach the second film pitting these monsters against each other. Yes, the first one was bad, but what do you expect? This is about two alien monsters fighting each other, not poetic studies on the different aspects of life. No, “Alien vs. Predator” was about two legendary movie monsters duking it out. The sequel, “Aliens vs. Predator – Requiem,” does very little to hide this fact.

The movie picks up where the first movie left off. The dead body of the previous Predator, Scar, lies onboard the Predator ship and “pop!” An Alien bursts out of his chest. The Alien grows, attacks and the ship crashes in Colorado. Afterwards a whole plethora of bad actors congregate to survive the Alien infestation. Meanwhile, a lone Predator agent, “Wolf,” comes to Earth and tries to clean up the infestation.

For those of you who thought the storyline wasn’t bad enough there’s also a lot of stereotypical teenage bullying among high school characters that look old enough to be my own father. The dialog is as laughable as it gets and it doesn’t help that the actors seem to be inexperienced at, well… acting. There are often awkward pauses among the actors that look as if they’re trying to remember lines. I guess if I had lines like the exchanges between Ricky and Jesse I’d pause to reflect on how awful the script is too.

But wait. Why was I there to see the movie? Ah yes, to see a Predator kick Alien ass. Well, to say the very least, the movie delivers there. It’s a shame several shots are so jerky and quickly edited-- It’s hard to tell what’s happening sometimes. Most of the time we’re able to see who’s winning against whom though.

The Strause Brothers aren’t much of directors, but they are very talented visual artists. If there is one aspect in this film that is done without fault it is the look of the movie. The Strause siblings are able to capture the visual atmosphere of the Aliens far better than Paul W.S. Anderson did in the first AVP. That’s saying a lot considering the Aliens are out of their element in this movie—Running amok buildings, houses and trees. The Predator is far more impressive as well. Wolf may be the most interesting Predator since the original one that fought the governor of California. His arsenal of weapons is very cool and watching him go on a killing spree for these creatures is too much fun.

The movie also seems to enjoy playing off scenes from previous Alien and Predator films. Wolf comes to Earth the same way the original Predator did. The Aliens ambush National Guard soldiers via a similar scene in “Aliens.” The dramatic escape scene at the end of the film is almost identical to the one in “Aliens” as well. While all of this is a cool homage, and admittedly I grinned at these inclusions, shouldn’t the film stand on it’s own? Perhaps the Strause Brothers are only capable of copying what has already been done. Or maybe they thought it would be a cool treat for the fans. If it was the latter they should heed the word “overkill.”

So the big question: Is “Aliens vs. Predator – Requiem” better than “Alien vs. Predator?” Hard to tell. Perhaps “Alien vs. Predator” is a more creative flick, but “Requiem” is a better Alien and Predator movie. It just feels closer to the roots of these franchises. Plus it’s a lot more fun. Many people will scoff at this rather amateur attempt at a movie, but fans, like myself, will probably view it as a guilty pleasure. So bad it’s good, but bad to be sure.

*½ out of ****


So why is it important I review “No Country for Old Men” and “Aliens vs. Predator – Requiem” together? No, it has nothing to do with the fact they’re directed by different sets of brothers. The fact is I initially enjoyed “Aliens vs. Predator – Requiem” more than “No Country for Old Men.” (That probably wouldn’t be the case if I watched them back-to-back right now though.) I had a great time and a lot of fun with my friends watching aliens and predators fight it out with bad acting and poor writing. Regardless of my feelings for that movie, it’s still pretty bad.

As a blogger I think it’s important to note that I really like that movie. However, as a student who respects film, it’s also important for me to state that “No Country for Old Men” is a much more artistic, aesthetic piece that requires my attention and deeper study. The more I look in to it, the more I love it. (In fact, just thinking about it makes me love it more.) There seems to be confusion between what is “good” and what you personally enjoy. Yes, personal enjoyment is part of it, but is AVP-R really better than the Coen Brothers movie? Certainly not. Sure, anyone can think that, but my critical opinion is that “No Country for Old Men” is one of the best movies this year and that “Aliens vs. Predator – Requiem” is probably among the worst. But I’m not paid to write reviews, so honesty is revealed: I enjoy both movies greatly. And I certainly hope there are people with a broad enough taste and love for movies that can enjoy both as well.

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