avp-r

20th Century Fox
2007
R

Immediately after the ship from the first movie leaves earth, the Predator-Alien hybrid that popped out of the dead Predator wastes no time in decimating the crew, crashing the craft into the woods outside a small Colorado town. As if that wasn’t bad enough for the hapless townsfolk to deal with, another Predator arrives to clean up this mess, and the Government closes off the town in an effort to contain things themselves. Caught in the middle of all this is a reformed convict and his troubled younger brother, an Iraq war veteran and her daughter, and a rag-tag group of kill fodder…

“Meh.”

That’s what went through my head as the end credits rolled on this sequel. A much more positive response to the film that my heterosexual life partner Nex gave it, to be sure. But considering my expectations going into the movie, due in massive part to the interviews, set reports, the kick-arse trailer, and especially the “R” rating, “Meh” was definitely not glowing praise. It did have a lot going for it, mind you. In the end, though…

To give you an idea of what’s what, when this sequel was announced, I scoffed. As did many other fellow fanboys, I’m sure. I’m not going to bore you rehashing why the first AvP movie left a bad taste in my mouth. You can read about that HERE, if you want to. It was going to take a lot to get me to watch this sequel. As time went on, I read a report that the director was going for a solid “R” rating, which led me to think that maybe, just maybe, this guy gets it. Mind you, getting an R rating means next to nothing. But then I saw the teaser trailer, and that went a long way to gain my confidence. Then the full theatrical trailer played, and I was convinced, all but forgiving the previous movie. So, when AvP:R hit the Cineplex, I was there, with Nex and Andrea in tow.

The obvious question here is, was AvP:R better than AvP? Yes. Yes it was. Then again, some of the fan-made shorts I’ve seen on YouTube are better than the 2004 “original”. The PredAlien was a nasty sucker, with the action and the kills befitting the rating. Made me flinch, for sure. And there was none of that “bonding” with the humans for the Predator, either — at one point, he uses one of them for Alien bait. Good for him, man. Good for him.

Contributing the Good Points section, the spare use of CGI was a good choice to go with. There was massive use of CGI in the first one; here, it was used to enhance the general practical effects on the chief antagonists here. The battle scenes were cool also, with the general mood pretty good lending to the tension.

So, what went wrong here? What kept AvP:R from being the movie worthy of the franchise? A couple of things, really. The main one being the paper-thin characters littering the place. Not that I ever go into movies like this expecting a character-driven drama, but there has to be at least a skosh of depth to give some kind of weight to their dire situation. Not a lot, just a bit. Go watch the first two Alien movies and the first Predator, and you’ll get that. Here, we get a heavy dose of the Pretty White People With Problems stock character cliché’s that make up the usual glut of primetime soaps on Fox and the CW. Think the Alien and Predator dropping in on an episode of Everwood. You get the idea.

On top of that, the military woman character (I didn’t really bother to remember the name, sorry) seemed arbitrary, like they wanted a Ripley-like character to, I don’t know, tie in the Alien side of things. Like the Alien itself wasn’t enough. I didn’t think that was necessary, especially when you realize that her husband was a bit of a milquetoast. At least they didn’t allude to her young daughter as being directly related to the future Ripley of the Alien franchise. I’m not entirely convinced that she isn’t though, but that’s just me.

There were other little plot choices that bothered me. Like the needless and baffling slaughter of the pregnant women. We don’t need that. Com’mon. And the stupid unquestioning logic behind the townsfolk and the government (“Hey, they want all of us to converge in a heavily infested part of town to be air lifted to safety! Let’s go!”) I kid you not, someone actually said, with a straight face, “Why would the government lie to us?” Or something like that. I half expected one of those “Wha-wha-whaaaaaaaaaa” music cues to cut in. Have we learned nothing from the movie Outbreak?

While better compared to its predecessor, Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem seemed to just go through the motions, rather than build upon the mythos. Like the afore-mentioned townsfolk, I went in thinking “Why would Hollywood insult my fanboy intelligence a second time?” Shame on me. Good for a rental…but not much else, really…