Saturday, August 14, 2004

review: Alien Vs. Predator

Take two well-known sci-fi franchises and merge them into a film in such a way that you can be assured of a huge audience, but also, that the sum is greater than the parts. Or as great. This film isn’t it. Alien Vs. Predator is a cold, calculated “product” that is too contrived and formulaic to provide much intrigue or entertainment value. And the most amount of suspense is provided courtesy of a penguin.

A corporate satellite, searching for evidence of natural resources, detects a significant amount of heat coming from an island in Antarctica. The billionaire head of the company quickly hobbles together an expedition team to investigate what appears to be a pyramid with Aztec, Egyptian and Cambodian traits, located 2000 feet below the surface.

The pyramid contains walls and floors that shift every ten minutes and hieroglyphics that are interpreted by one of the crew, to give them some sense of what they have found. The maze provides so much overkill that an Indiana Jones or Tomb Raider fan would blush. The humans get into the maze, the face huggers do their thing and you have a nice population of Aliens for the Predators to hunt.

It takes one human to “birth” an Alien, so why are there so many Aliens in the place? The gestation period took hours in the first Alien film, but here they seem to pop out with greater frequency. The dialogue appears to be written by a 6th-grader. There are no outstanding characters in the film, like a Ripley from the Alien series, although they try to create one in “Lex” Woods, played by Sanaa Lathan. There’s virtually no character development, so when they get killed, you don’t feel anything. Lance Henriksen plays the billionaire. In one scene, he briefly does the “knife” trick from the Aliens film, where he played a “synthetic human.”

This film is an empty-calorie spectacle that doesn’t satisfy, yet it promises too much potential for fans of either series to pass up. At least we find out who taught humans how to build pyramids.

website page counter