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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Horror > Thriller > Alien Vs. Predator (Widescreen/PG-13)

Alien Vs. Predator (Widescreen/DTS)

 

Picture: B     Sound: B     Extras: C     Film: C-

 

 

Last in our series of Predator reviews is the recent 2004 sequel/spin off - Alien vs. Predator.  The story here is terrible, and covered with plot holes that just can’t be forgiven by your average moviegoer.  At the very least, Paul W.S. Anderson was able to ape Ridley Scott’s visual style to some small extent... but that doesn’t really matter much at all, as the god-awful dialogue the characters spew out will be the only thing sticking in your head while some interesting scenery drifts by.  The only time I was ever able to appreciate the overall look of the film was during the commentary with some of the lead effects men - there’s a bit more quiet time on that one than on the other, and thankfully Sanaa Lathan’s voice is nowhere to be found.

 

Those who will enjoy this movie are most likely younger teenagers who still find CGI entirely believable and “cool”.  Sadly, this movie won‘t be as enjoyable for the vast majority of Alien and Predator fanboys that were shafted as the primary viewing targets.  The movie breaks the mythology of both franchises that was well established years ago, and mostly adhered to throughout their strings of sequels.  It all could have easily made sense if they had just stuck with the foundation that was already there and ran with it.  Instead, we have this jumbled mess that stretches itself out long before the credits roll.

 

While I did like the physical creature effects, poorly done computer effects greatly overshadowed them.  One of the many glaring instances was during a semi-lengthy battle between an alien and predator creature, where things shifted from men in suits to CGI throughout the sequence.  You needn’t the eye of a hawk to differentiate which was which.  That’s one of the flaws of current special effects technology - in the old days, even some of the best effects were somewhat hidden, as everything had its limitations.  The current thought process is that with modern computers, it’s possible to put anything on the screen - this isn’t necessarily the case.  In the early 90’s when computer technology in movies hit its first big boom, moviemakers still hid the effects and laboriously blended them in with the physical environments.  Since then, advances have occurred, but some things still just don’t look right to the human eye - and to make it worse, the moviemakers highlight every flaw by throwing the action into the middle of the frame.

 

Eventually, Hollywood will come to its senses about how to treat digital animation once the novelty of the whole thing wears off on the rest of the population.  The picture quality on this disc is good - and since the source material is fresh, it looks a bit better than the current DVD releases of Predator and Predator 2.  The colors are done well, but there aren’t a lot of reds or anything to cause problems for those who worked on the disc, as the general look of the movie is dark, with gunmetal-gray corridors and barren lands of snow and ice.  Sound quality is also good - with Dolby Digital 5.1 and better DTS 5.1 Surround available.  The DTS is the disc’s strongest point.

 

Bonus materials are plentiful enough for the average viewer, and include 2 separate commentaries.  Sadly, neither commentary is that great - and the one with Paul Anderson, Lance Henriksen and Sanaa Lathan is especially annoying.  They don’t do much but annoy - especially Lathan, and the sound of her saying, “yeah baby!” in a gruff voice may be stuck permanently in my head.  Henriksen basically just sits there and compliments the look of the film throughout.  He should’ve stopped his involvement with the franchise on a high point with Alien 3, as this one shouldn’t go down as a high achievement for him.  However, in addition to a few other extras, there’s a making-of featurette that went over well enough with me in some respects, but it's bland overall.  The passable DVD-ROM content includes an AVP comic book, background study and an AVP graphic novel preview that I assume is based upon the movie.

 

This movie had a lot of potential, but that was crushed as soon as Paul Anderson got the greenlight to make his vision into reality.  For now, everyone will be left pondering what the movie could have been if someone more capable had gotten the chance to bring this long-awaited confrontation to life.  Maybe later on someone will come up with something better, and possibly more inventive than what this turned out to be.  I’m not going to bash Anderson too badly in the future, as he does have potential to grow as a filmmaker - he just needs to mature and learn how to better flesh out his ideas for the screen.  If you’re curious and want to check this out, you won’t hate yourself too badly - it might warrant a rental for that.  But I do doubt that you’ll want it for your home library unless you happen to be a die-hard completist.

 

 

-   David Milchick


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