Alien vs. Predator is hardly a match made in heaven
It’s not a silly concept by any stretch. As a young boy I was thrilled and chilled when my favorite monster, Wolfman (portrayed with heartbreaking torment by the incomparable Lon Chaney), in perhaps the first monster match on film, battled the legendary patchwork zombie in Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman.
Back in the days before videos, you just had to watch your TV Guide carefully and hope for it to play on Saturday afternoon the anticipation was part of the excitement.
So, the problem with taking two familiar science fiction franchise bad guys the slime dripping, face-smothering aliens of the four-part Alien series and the two-installment, much less ambitious Predator films has some merit.
Alas, two major impediments prevent the film from attaining any standard of excellence. Using an underachieving director (Paul W. S. Anderson) whose resume includes such underwhelming fare as Event Horizon and Resident Evil, and then mandating the film be watered down to a PG-13 rating primarily to attract teenage boys which it might until their friends tell them the video game is much better.
Since it has been awhile since a good scary monster sci-fi movie (2002 Reign of Fire, and last years post-apocalyptic thriller 28 Days Later had its moments), fans of the genre might have more patience for Alien vs. Predator and might not be as brutal as the thrashing the film is taking in critical circles.
With the exception of actor Lance Henriksen, who starred in two of the Alien films AVP has a cast of relative newcomers and a plot that is curiously influenced more by The Mummy action films.
A team of experts is thrown together quickly to explore a pyramid hidden deep below the Antarctic ice. Sanaa Lathan (Love & Basketball ), as the ice-climbing expert and primary protagonist (which means she will survive the longest), shows promise, as does Raoul Bova, as an archaeologist who somehow interprets the Aztec/Egyptian/Cambodian engravings that bear extraterrestrial origins.
Its obvious that director Anderson is a disciple of veteran filmmakers such as Ridley Scott, James Cameron and John Carpenter. But with neither a creative spark, vision or knack for suspense, Andersons work seems more like the film school final thesis of an adoring apprentice than a serious homage to two worthy franchises. The result is a film that lacks any originality of its own, isnt really scary to anyone but the most novice filmgoer, and features a million close-ups of the Aliens toothy, gooey grin. Even worse, its not bad enough to be campy fun. At least Van Helsing had the handsome Hugh Jackman and Kate Beckinsale in that gothic bustier get-up.
Rated PG-13 for violence, gore and profanity.