Mar 31, 2015

Review: AVPR: Aliens vs Predator - Requiem (2007)

Alien vs. Predator didn't cut it for me. While I appreciated the effort that was put into building a great looking set as well as the use of special effects that have aged quite well even by today's standards, the action scenes are a flurry of incomprehensible mush and the characters are more cardboard than cardboard itself. While I think a lot of blame falls on the studio for giving such a tight filming and post-production schedule as well as forcing a PG-13 rating, Paul W.S. Anderson isn't blameless in all this.

Colin and Greg Strause were brought in to direct this sequel and with plenty of experience in the special effects field, it seemed like a match made in heaven. Add in the R-rating that was approved and it'd be easily to think that they were out to address all the problems of AVP. There are some legitimate improvements in AVPR, but unfortunately the film as a whole takes another step back. We'll get into that though.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Genre: action, horror, sci-fi
Directed by: Colin Strause, Greg Strause
Produced by: John Davis, David Giler, Walter Hill, etc.
Written by: Shane Salerno
Music by: Brian Tyler
Running time: 101 minutes
Production company: Davis Entertainment, Brandywine Productions, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, etc.
Distributed by: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, 20th Century Fox, Fox-Warner, etc.
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $40,000,000
Box office: $128,884,494 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Steven Pasquale, Reiko Aylesworth, John Ortiz, Johnny Lewis, Sam Trammell, Ariel Gade, Kristen Hager, Robert Joy, David Paetkau, Tom Woodruff Jr., Ian Whyte, Michal Suchánek, David Hornsby, Chris William Martin, James Chutter, Tim Henry, Tom McBeath, Ty Olsson

_______________________________________________________________________________III

Synopsis


As the Predator ship flies away from Earth with the body of "Scar" aboard, a mutated chestburster emerges from his body unbeknownst to any of the crew. It quickly matures into a Predalien and begins to attack the other Predators on board. This results in the ship crash landing on Earth, unleashing a small army of facehuggers and the Predalien on a small, nearby town. On his home planet, Predator "Wolf" receives a distress signal from a dying Predator on the ship and joins the fight.

Review


If you thought the characters were bad in AVP, you're in for a nasty surprise because Aliens vs Predator - Requiem treats us to some of the most cardboard characters imaginable. It's hard to believe the problem could get any worse than it was, but that's exactly what happens. Every single character might as well just be a faceless victim because writer Shane Salerno doesn't seem to care about them in the least and neither do the Brothers Strause. The focus is clearly on the Aliens and Predators which leaves the humans as nothing more than a trivial little side-story. I honestly can't remember anybody's names unless I look at the Wikipedia entry beforehand.

Half-hearted attempts at creating sympathy for the soldier (Reiko Aylesworth) who comes home to her young resentful daughter or for Mr. Regular Guy (Johnny Lewis) getting a shot at being with Miss Hottest Girl at School (Kristen Hager) fall completely flat. It doesn't matter who plays these characters and it doesn't matter whether any of them live or die either. Obviously many of the characters do get killed in scenes that are reminiscent of an unscary slasher movie set in a middle of nowhere kind of town that no one cares about.

So if we're not to care about the human characters who might or might not exist, how are the Aliens and Predators treated in AVPR? Surprisingly alright actually. A big change from AVP is the use of sounds associated with both franchises. Gone are the Predators that sound like tigers which is a big relief. We can once again hear the familiar sound effects associated with "Predator-vision" as well as Aliens screeching when they get hurt. Clearly the Brothers Strause have far more respect for these monsters than Paul W.S. Anderson ever did which is nice. The chirruping of the Predator was even recreated specifically for the film and it sounds great.

Some other familiar sound effects are reused as well, but it's something that's overused a bit too much. Does it really make sense for Col. Stevens' (Robert Joy) to have a computer that makes sounds like those from Alien which is set far in the future? Not really. In fact there's maybe a bit too much fan service going on in AVPR. Was it really necessary to recreate the famous Alien 3 scene where the Alien puts its face right up against Ripley's? I personally don't really think so. Add in making someone else besides Arnold Schwarzenegger say "Get to the chopper?" No way.

While it's good that the Aliens and Predators look and sound good, it's too bad that their fight scenes are so awful. While the Strause brothers don't mangle their fight sequences with quick cuts like Paul W.S. Anderson, they zoom in far too close and use some of the worst lighting I have ever seen in a big theatrical movie. There's no excuse for the lack of light in this case because it is virtually impossible to be able to tell the Predator and Predalien apart since the Predalien isn't so physically different from the Predator.

This is where the budget cut of AVPR becomes quite apparent. The Brothers Strause have no choice but to drape their film in constant darkness and shadow. While this sort of technique could've worked earlier on when they seemed to be trying to tease the Predalien before fully unveiling it, it never truly feels like anything else but an attempt at hiding technical deficiencies. While it's nice that the studio granted the Strause brothers an R-rating, they took away $20 million in budget compared to AVP which I think is a big reason for AVPR swimming in blackness.

Aliens vs Predator - Requiem is like a big-budget B-movie without any of the redeeming qualities that can make a B-movie fun. While I believe that the Strause brothers have a better understanding of Aliens and Predators than Anderson did, they were handicapped by a tight budget and a tight filming schedule while also working on several other special effects projects on the side. They don't get a single Alien vs. Predator fight right, none of their scares work and Shane Salerno seems to have taken pleasure in writing some of the flattest characters in recent memory. All in all, AVPR is one ugly mother...

Rating


4/10

Related Reviews:

 

AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004)

Alien (1979)
Aliens (1986)
Alien³ [Alien 3] (1992)
Alien: Resurrection (1997)

Prometheus (2012)

Predator (1987)
Predator 2 (1990)
Predators (2010)