Whoever Wins — We Lose

29-Dec-07 10:36 AM by
Filed under Reviews; 1 comment.

I'm not usually a fan of horror movies. Don't get me wrong, I like being scared; the Silent Hill franchise of video games are absolutely terrific in their ability to disturb and entertain. It's just that movies are too much a spectator sport for me to get very involved.

But when those horror films start crossing over into other genres, then I get interested. Freddy vs. Jason was a hilarious flick, while Alien vs. Predator was a decent action film. The latter had enough potential to warrant my recent viewing of its sequel, Aliens vs. Predator. (The pluralization of the Aliens apparently being too sublime, the movie earned itself a silly subtitle, Requiem, for viewers who've forgotten the nomenclature of the Ridley Scott original series.)

The sequel picks up immediately where its predecessor ends, with an Alien bursting from a Predator's chest, imbued with the qualities of both races. (I didn't realize until now that Aliens bear the traits of their hosts. Interesting.) The Predator ship crash-lands in the woods outside a remote town in Colorado. Hilarity ensues.

Well, not really — at least hilarity has a punchline. Here, we're mostly kept waiting for a payoff that never comes. Whereas the first AvP film featured a team of Predators on the hunt, this time there's only a lone hunter (who we tantalizingly see take off from his homeworld), though his motives are unclear. Is he trying to cover up the Aliens' existence? Save humanity from an Alien infestation? We never know. There was a definite sense in the first film of the Predator as the hero, but his motives don't seem as honorable here. Mostly what we see him do is use some foreign weaponry which is then damaged in battle, affording him a sequence in which he unveils yet another mysterious gadget. Repeat.

Just as unclear is the potential of the so-called Predalien. The best of both worlds and the weaknesses of none, right? Not so much. A Predator's strength comes from his training and weapons, and a newborn Predalien has neither. Except for his physical appearance (and some unjustified ability to manipulate human fetuses), the Predalien functions exactly like an Alien. The fight between the lone representatives of the two species is built up throughout the entire film, but when the climatic battle finally occurs, you realize it doesn't matter who wins.

Everything in between is the usual mayhem, screaming "What are those things?!", and firing into the darkness. The murky cinematography sometimes leaves one questioning how an Alien snuck into a particular building, or where the Predator is supposed to be now. In keeping with the rules of horror films, sluts and stoners are guaranteed to go, but there is the occasional surprise in the nature of their demise.

The film ends with a vague reference to the origin of The Company, which I suspect will be lost on most viewers. But if you have the appropriate expectations going into this film, it will prove a mildly satisfying experience. The first AvP suggested the potential for a great mash-up; it's a potential I'm still waiting to see realized. In the meantime, fans have done a great job of introducing these otherworldly invaders into other mythos, including Terminator, Robocop and Batman. Now that's a winning proposition!

One Response to “Whoever Wins — We Lose”

  1. Ken Gagne adds:

    Look for Predators, "a bold new chapter in the Predator universe", on Jul 7, 2010.