AVP: Alien vs Predator (2004) review

AVP Alien vs Predator posterDirector: Paul W S Anderson

Starring: Sanaa Lathan, Lance Henriksen, Raoul Bova, Ewen Bremner

They’re not hunting us. We’re in the middle of a war. It’s time to pick a side.” (Alexa, AVP: Alien vs Predator)

How do you bring two of the most iconic sci-fi monsters together so they can meet and fight each other?

Hmmm. What if there was some sort of common ground they shared, something that could be used to force a meeting?

Let’s think. On one hand you’ve got the Alien, the penis-headed xenomorph that made life hell for Sigourney Weaver in the Alien movies. Which lives in space.

Then there’s the Predator, the alien hunter that made life hell for Arnold Schwarzenegger in the first Predator movie. Which lives in space.

Right then, with that in mind it seems pretty obvious how a storyline for Alien vs Predator could come about. Yup, you guessed it, a fight to the death in an ancient underground pyramid 2000 feet below the ground. In Antarctica.

Don't look at me like that, mate. It wasn't my idea
Don’t look at me like that, mate. It wasn’t my idea

No, I have no clue what in the realm of Christ the writers of AVP were smoking when they decided on this premise, or indeed whether they were able to pay their inevitable medical bills with the money they got for the script.

All I know is that people wanted to see an Alien fighting a Predator, and that’s what this gives them. In a pyramid. Under the ice.

You can’t really have a film without dialogue though (unless you’re Charlie Chaplin, and chances are you aren’t), which is why a bunch of human characters have also been chucked in for good measure.

Take the lead character, Alexa, who is summoned by Charles Weyland (the legendary Lance Henriksen in his third Alien movie) to help him lead a team to the Antarctic to explore said recently discovered underground pyramid.

Either that's an Alien egg or this is the most intimidating gloryhole I've ever visited
Either that’s an Alien egg or this is the most intimidating gloryhole I’ve ever visited

She’s joined by a bunch of other archaeologists and experts, including friendly Italian chap Sebastian and friendly Scottish chap Graeme (Ewen Bremner, aka Spud from Trainspotting).

Once they get to the pyramid site they find that the dig they’d planned to reach it is no longer necessary, as someone else has apparently blasted an enormous, perfectly round tunnel leading right to it, despite there having been no tunnel there 24 hours prior.

Not taking this completely impossible phenomenon as a hint to maybe leave well alone, the group head down and enter the pyramid to see what they can find.

I won’t spoil it, but I’ll give you a clue. They find two things, one starting with A and another starting with P. Neither of which are to chuffed to see our intrepid humans there.

"Do you ever get the feeling someone's watchiOH CHRIST MY BRAINS ARE ON THE FLOOR"
“Do you ever get the feeling someone’s watchiOH CHRIST MY BRAINS ARE ON THE FLOOR”

It slowly dawns on the group that the pyramid is the hunting ground for a group of Predators, who come down to Earth every 100 years to thaw out a  Queen Alien they’d captured, use it to squirt out a few thousand Aliens then fight them to the death. And our human peeps are in the way.

The result is an interesting film which focuses on two major battles near the end. The first is the obvious fight we all came to see – the Alien versus the Predator.

As you would expect, this is a fairly brutal affair, with lots of slicing, dicing and numerous appendages being lopped off by blades, lasers and the like.

The second is a slightly less conventional affair, with one of the few humans who hasn’t already been hideously butchered by either beast teaming up with the Predator to take on the Aliens, to stop them breaking out of the pyramid and destroying the human race.

When it came to giving PowerPoint presentations, Rupert didn't fuck around
When it came to giving PowerPoint presentations, Rupert didn’t fuck around

Oh, and at one point she literally says “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”, just in case you’re 13 and couldn’t figure out what was going on.

Indeed, if you were watching this in US cinemas when it was released, there actually was a chance you were 13. Despite being a film starring two of cinema’s most fearsome monsters, Alien vs Predator was released with a PG-13 rating in America.

It’s clear while watching that this was a deliberate ploy by 20th Century Fox to increase ticket sales, because while numerous humans are ‘brutally’ killed in AVP, you actually never see a single death on-screen.

The result is an hour or so of fannying about, slowly reducing the human headcount in wholly tame and uninteresting ways, until the actual proper fighting can begin.

Now that's just showing off. Stop it mate, this is serious business
Now that’s just showing off. Stop it mate, this is serious business

Once the Predator and Aliens do finally get scrapping, it’s brilliant. Loads of lovely slow-motion shots, clever ideas (the Predator uses the Alien’s acid blood to mark its own face as a makeshift scar of honour) and engrossing grappling.

Which leads to the obvious question – if you’re going to make us sit through an hour of shite while endless boring humans are killed off-screen before we get to the main fight, why not just start with the three main humans we’re supposed to care about, have them enter the pyramid and kick the fight off early?

Alien vs Predator is worth watching, purely to see two cinematic icons get properly stuck into each other. If you’re pushed for time though, as sacrilegious as this may sound, I recommend skipping forward an hour or so until they meet and enjoying it as a 30-minute short film.

trev_newtrev_newtrev_half_new

HOW CAN I SEE IT?
You’re pretty much spoilt for choice if you want to see AVP. I could be here all day listing stuff so here’s a quick rundown instead. In the UK you’ve got the standalone DVD, standalone Blu-ray, AVP 1 & 2 Blu-ray box set and The Ultimate Alien & Predator Collection DVD set, featuring all four Alien movies, the first two Predator movies and both AVP films. Phew.

In the US, it’s similar stuff – standalone DVD, standalone Blu-ray, AVP 1 & 2 Blu-ray box set and the Alien & Predator Total Destruction Collection DVD set, featuring the same movies as the British equivalent.

SHOW ME THE TRAILER:

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