What do you get if you cross two of science fiction’s most iconic alien monsters into one movie? Ninety minutes of intense, edge-of-your-seat arse kicking action between said monsters with some humans caught up in the middle to add to the body count? Not so, say directing duo Colin and Greg Strause, who manage the impossible by destroying one of the coolest crossover franchises ever conceived.
The story picks up in the Predator spaceship at the end of Paul W.S Anderson’s original AVP. The predators on the ship are more than happy to bring their chestburster-infected comrade on board, despite previously being shown to be able to detect the little blighters with x-ray vision. Obviously they’re thinking of bringing their violent-tribal-hunter culture to an end and use the PredAlien hybrid to establish diplomatic relations with the alien Xenomorphs.
Nice plan in theory. In practise, it could have gone better. The PredAlien grows to full size in roughly 17 seconds and proceeds to slaughter the Predators causing the ship to crash land in Generic Smalltown, America. Not only does the PredAlien lovechild make its escape, but the facehuggers too, whom the Predators had been keeping as pets in fancy goldfish bowls. The scene is incredibly powerful and moving. It brought a lump to my throat as it reminded me of my own pet goldfish who I used to laugh and play with all day long until he, too, ran away after I accidentally smashed his bowl. Now, with a tear in my eye, I find myself able to sympathise with the Predators more than I ever could when Arnold Schwarzenegger was dropping trees on them.
A new Predator enters the fray, from what may have been the Predator home world, to continue talks of a peace treaty with the Aliens over a friendly game of who-can-kill-the-most-humans. This particular Predator, though, is an awful sore loser. Skinning a man and hanging him from a tree to make your single kill stand out is all well and good, but dissolving all the Alien-made corpses so no one can find them? I’m fairly sure that’s cheating. Eventually, his frustration gets the better of him and he kills some of the Aliens in a fit of rage, shattering any hopes either species had for an end to the horrors of interstellar war.
All the while, the PredAlien doesn’t get up to very much. It makes a little nest for itself in the sewers among the hobos, where I imagine it spends some time questioning its purpose in life. “Who am I?” it would wonder, “whose side am I supposed to be on?” Eventually it comes to realize that it’s less a hybrid combining key elements of the two species into something unique, and more just an Alien with mandibles. It is with this mindset that it decides to rampage through the town, finally killing off a fair few of the crappy, one-dimensional, generic characters that had been annoying me for so long.
If you were hoping to see a Predator versus PredAlien fight, you’ll be disappointed. I mean, they do get into a few tussles, but don’t expect to actually see them. Someone had the (ironically) bright idea that there should be no light in this movie. It says a lot about the confidence the directors had in their own film when one of them suggests to the other “you know, people would probably like this a whole lot more if they can’t actually see any of it.”
I believe the intent was to capture the feel of the original “Alien” – a very dark, claustrophobic horror flick. This was stupid. They made AVP:R an action film. If you can’t see the action in an action film it is entirely pointless. You have spent 52 days filming scenes to exhilarate and thrill people who see them, and blacked them out.
52 fucking days.