Alien vs. Predator: Requiem Review
Written by Zeus on 2011-09-09 (published 2011-10-07).
Alien vs. Predator: Requiem isn't worth seeing.
Even those who grew up with the Alien and Predator movies should stay away. Seeing it would only depress you, much like discovering that your childhood sweetheart is now a meth-addicted Skele-whore would.
Review Score: 2/5 Stars
Unqualified Critical Analysis
There was much hate for this film, even from those who numbered Alien vs. Predator among their guilty pleasures. While most complained about the lighting, direction and 50/50 booking, AVP:R's real problems were as follows.
A Different Kind of Jungle
Welcome to Gunnison, Colorado
Finding common battleground for movie monsters is usually easy. One time Dracula, the Wolf-Man and Frankenstein's monster had trouble getting together, but it turned out they all knew Abbot and Costello. King Kong hailed from an island in the Indian Ocean -- a long way from Japan. But his time in the Big Apple meant he felt right at home meeting up with Godzilla in Tokyo. And let me tell you, things got crazy. Then you have Freddy and Jason's crossover, which would seem like a logistical nightmare. But as much as Freddy Krueger is identified with Elm Street, his real hunting ground was the dreams of his victims. And Jason Voorhees, who once summered exclusively in Crystal Lake, had previously visited Manhattan, Hell, and Outer Space. So even if Freddy vs. Jason hadn't managed to work both Crystal Lake and Elm Street into the plot, Jason could have just as easily killed counselors at Camp Anawanna, and Freddy could have cut down dead teenagers on Maple, Oak or Birch Street -- any deciduous woody plant would do.
But Predators and Aliens are different. It's REALLY hard to split the difference between these two. Finding a suitable location for them to battle is like trying to find neutral ground for a Jaws vs. Cujo deathmatch.
Aliens, or the more politically correct Xenomorphs, have always appeared indoors. In Alien, the eggs weren't found on the planet's surface; they were found in a derelict alien spacecraft. From there the Aliens attacked a human spaceship, a colony, a prison, another spaceship... it's almost impossible to envision Aliens in a natural habitat. When selecting a Xenomorph game preserve, the Predators had to use a man-made labyrinth (compared to the open jungle chosen for humans in Predators). To put it bluntly, Xenomorphs can't function outdoors. They're more reliant on corridors than a Doom game.
"What's that, Pa?"
"Well, that there's potential. And we gonna squander it."
Predators are the exact opposite. They're only at home in the jungle. And no, the "concrete jungle" won't do. When Predator visited Los Angeles, he seemed really uncomfortable; sticking to rooftops, crashing through skylights, skinning people in their penthouse apartments. It's like he didn't want to be there. Predator 2's urban setting is why Arnold Schwarzenegger turned down the role. It's no wonder. Predators are hunters, and hunters belong in the wild, stalking their prey under the open sky. But every time they battle Aliens, Predators have to be the ones who compromise.
It is a compromise that has marred every Alien vs. Predator film to date.
The small town setting chosen for this film is especially drab. After a few brief scenes in a perfectly spooky forest, we're trapped in sewers and power plants to accommodate Aliens. You can almost hear the filmmakers saying, "Hey, the interior of a power plant looks like a spaceship, what's the big deal?" And he does have a point. After all, beloved scifi films like Alien, Star Trek II: Wrath of Kahn and 2001: A Space Odyssey all took place in power plants.
A Cast of Lambs
Just the typical cast of an Alien or Predator movie.
I'm not sure if anyone ever noticed this, but the Alien movies follow a fairly distinct pattern in terms of human characters.
- Alien: Our heroes are the crew of a towing spaceship, untrained and unprepared to defend themselves. Ripley has panties.
- Aliens: Our heroes are a hardened squad of Colonial Marines. Ripley has a mech and beats up the Alien Queen!
- Alien 3: Our heroes are unarmed prisoners. Ripley is bald, impregnated with an alien embryo and driven to suicide.
- Alien: Resurrection: Our heroes are a hardened squad of mercenaries. Ripley has super strength, acid blood and psychic powers!
- Alien vs. Predator: Our heroes are unarmed scientists, unable to properly defend themselves against Alien nor Predator. Ripley isn't even born yet.
As you can see, the human protagonists alternate between lambs for the slaughter and packs of hungry wolves. (Alien vs. Predator's billionaire industrialist did hire a few mercenaries, but most of his employees were archaeologists and linguistic experts... in the words of Ogre: "NERDS!")
Alien vs. Predator: Requiem shatters the pattern. The focus is squarely on civilians: the kind of pretty young things you'd find in a Scream clone. The directors wanted a nod to the original Alien, whose characters were basically blue-collar workers. The key difference? They were blue-collar workers in spaaaaaaace! This movie is filled with waitresses, small town cops, hell there seems to be a major subplot involving a pizza boy's unwillingness to wear his delivery hat. Midway through, the National Guard are called in, and immediately killed off. Which leaves us with the locals, who actually have to raid a gun shop, because none of them have any guns. Alien Queens and invisible monsters I can believe, but unarmed rednecks? It strains credulity.
In keeping with tradition, they should have ditched the cast of yokels and made this a film about tough-as-nails soldiers.
And no, Major Mom doesn't count.
Besides being shot in the sort of Bulgarian hamlet normally reserved for a Syfy Original movie, the main problem with Alien vs. Predator: Requiem is the Predalien. As you probably know if you've read this far, when an Alien incubates in a host, it acquires some of that host's physical traits. Here, the Predalien was made up of about 80% Predator, 20% Alien. Of course, they already did a weird hybrid Super Xenomorph back in Alien: Resurrection. (Two, if you count Alien DNA Clone Ripley.) But there's a less obvious, fundamental problem with the Predalien, a monster concept that, by all rights, should be no less awesome than when Godzilla sexed up King Kong and gave birth to a giant atomic gorilla. (I told you things got crazy in Tokyo.)
Predator + Alien = Underwhelming
Predators, like humans, rely almost entirely on technology. Their infrared vision, invisibility, laser sights, plasma cannon, even the lowly wrist blades are all technological. Strip away a Predator's gizmos and they're not much deadlier than any large, rather well built human (like yours truly). This has been touched on a few times, including the last act of the original Predator and the Samurai sword duel in Predators. None of a Predator's deadliest trademarks are inherent abilities, thus none of their deadliest trademarks can be inherited.
Since technology can't be passed on from the host, the Predalien is nothing more than a slightly buffer Xenomorph with better hair. He's not more of a threat to humans, only to other Xenomorphs, because just try getting a date with the Alien Queen when you're standing next to Flexy McDreadlocks.
While not as lame as Alien: Resurrection's "Newborn," the combined Predator and Alien is lesser than the sum of its parts.
That Was How it Could Have Happened...
AVP:R's failure inspired me to come up with something better.
Ever since Alien 3 introduced the Alien Dog -- or Alien Ox, depending on the cut -- the series has had a sort of Chekhov's gun, just waiting to go off. The Xenomorphs we know and love are based on humans: puny, technology-dependent humans. Predaliens aren't much better. The dog was a nice start, but what we really need is a host that is naturally deadly.
A host that, in a fair fight, would tear human, Alien or Predator to shreds.
A host that was once worshipped as a god.
We needed goddammed bear.
The North American Grizzly is one of the largest and most aggressive bears in the world. Let's say that the average human is 5'9", and human-based-Xenomorphs are around 6'6". Grizzlies weigh up to a thousand pounds and... aw screw the math, what you get is a really mean, giant-ass Xenobear. Unlike regular Grizzlies, Alien Bears wouldn't be loners, they'd be part of this weird alien parasite hive-mind.
Each bear is the equivalent to 2.5 Arnold Schwarzenegers. In a fair fight, bears win. You put a bear up against any other animal, and a bears' going to rip it so many new ones, when it farts it will sound like a small symphony. For the skeptics out there, I have scientific data behind this hypothesis, data collected from that most prestigious repository of knowledge, the Discovery Channel.
Brown Bear vs. Siberian Tiger, Animal Face-Off, episode 7.
"Despite the tiger's persistent attacks, the bear's thick fur and fat, combined with its enormous girth, are too much for the tiger. The bear throws the tiger off, breaks its back, and bites the tiger's neck, ending the fight."
Black Bear vs. Alligator, Animal Face-Off, episode 11.
"The alligator bites the bear's leg, leaving a wound. However, it only bites fur, fat, and muscle. The bear fights back. The gator tries to do a tail swipe, but the bear dodges it. Running out of energy, the alligator tries to retreat into the water, but the bear stops it. It rolls over and the bear scratches deep into the gator's soft underbelly."
Still not convinced? I have it on good authority from a doctor: Dr. Stephen Colbert.
Of course, bears are only a problem when they get hungry.
Xenomorphs are always hungry.
A Xenobear would also fix the location problem. Bears are at home in forests and in caves. Dark, creepy caves that could stretch on for miles.
A team of big game hunters are stalked by a Predator deep in a North American wilderness. As the hunters are picked off, one by one, they come across a cave. Shelter, they think. We're saved!
Because at the start of the film (after that Predator ship from the last movie crashed) a surviving facehugger, instinctively seeking a man-made structure, scuttled into that labyrinthine abyss, where it came across the hulking, slumbering mass of a Grizzly.
Good news is, the Grizzly's dead by the time the humans reach the caverns. Bad news is, what crawled out is much, much worse.
So you have the Predators closing in from the wilderness, this great evil corrupted god lurking within, and a unit of well-armed humans trapped somewhere in the middle.
That's how you set up an Alien vs Predator sequel.