Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007)

The biggest complaints about Paul W.S. Anderson's Alien vs. Predator (among people who actually care about such things, that is) was that it was watered-down, relatively tame, and completely lacking the unique ferocity of its predecessors. It's hard to believe that something so silly was inspired by such bad-ass sci-fi movies as Alien, Aliens and Predator, but apparently the battle of the interstellar slashers did well enough to warrant a sequel of its own. So to anyone still keeping score, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem marks the sixth Alien flick and the fourth Predator movie. Yes again, this one's called AlienS vs. Predator, whereas the previous entry was called Alien vs. Predator ... as if any of it matters anymore. Frankly, I wanted to walk through the sold-out opening day audience and see how many people actually know what "requiem" means.

So here's the golden question: Does AVP2 succeed where AVP1 failed? Is it harsh and brutal and gory and jam-packed with ultra-carnage? Yeah, actually it is. So let's give co-directors Colin and Greg Krause their fair share of praise for delivering what the fans asked for: Mayhem. Unfortunately, the fraternal filmmakers should probably hold on to that one chunk of praise, because in every other department -- characterization, dialog, story logic, acting -- the sequel is every bit as sloppy as the first. Perhaps even moreso in some areas (I happen to think PWS Anderson is a pretty good visual stylist), and I find that pretty damn disappointing. I mean, how hard is it to make a non-boring movie about carnivorous ALIENS and invisible PREDATORS? Seems like it'd be a no-brainer, but after two half-hearted attempts, I'm thinking they should just give up already.

Here's your plot, straight out of 1955: A sleepy American town is overrun by two warring species from outer space. The ALIENS have escaped from a spaceship and have no problem getting comfortable here on Earth. The PREDATORS, apparently very meticulous about their hunting rituals, send one mega-hunter to Earth in an effort to clean up the mess. (I guess they're afraid we'd sue them if we found out an alien invasion was their fault.) Tossed into this tale of rubber monster vs. rubber monster we have a big, splintery ensemble full of wood. There's the ex-con who JUST got back into town, his trouble-making little brother, a sexy solider woman who JUST got back into town, a few stupid bullies who get theirs but good, a stunningly ineffectual sheriff, and a hot teenage girl who has a thing for the ex-con's brother....

Why we're supposed to care about any of these people is a massive mystery to me. And I can hear some of my gorehound brethren scoffing at me right now: "Oh please," you're thinking, "why the hell would we need character development in a movie like this?" To which I'd respond, "Alien, Aliens, and even Predator have interesting characters that serve to make the ridiculous stories seem just a little bit believable." That's why you keep re-watching those movies. With the cardboard cut-out characters we're given here (and, dear lord, the words they speak), all we're left with is a small handful of action / kill scenes, and only maybe 20% of those are worth a damn in the first place. The larger-scale mayhem that occurs in Act III is the best of the lot, but most of the alien/predator scenes are dimly lit, sloppily shot, and cut together quite confusingly. Plus they're both evil monsters who kill humans at every turn ... so who the hell are we rooting for here?

The cast members seem well aware that they're playing third banana to a bunch of guys in slimy rubber suits, and their performances follow suit: Lead actress Reiko Aylesworth vanishes for large chunks of the movie, Steven Pasquale (as the heroic "Dallas, get it?) does the best he can with his one-note character, and the rest of the cast is generic at best. Hell, the flick doesn't even offer one of those juicy side-roles for a noteworthy character actor! Where's Lance Henriksen when you need him?

For a movie that runs less than 90 minutes, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (the title still makes me giggle) seems almost twice that long. The flick is quite a bit more gruesome (and therefore slightly more amusing) than AVP1, but it still suffers from horrible pacing issues, powerfully basic characterization, and all-but-total lack of "plot." So if your ONLY complaint about Alien vs. Predator was that it wasn't graphically violent enough, then you're going to love this movie. As it stands, I'd call this a sci-fi slasher flick that's millimeters more interesting than its predecessor, but honestly, a movie with this sort of premise should really be a lot more FUN.