Synopsis: Packed with adrenaline-pumping action, heart-stopping suspense, plus seven additional minutes of unrated, blood-soaked footage too shocking for theaters, this unrated version of AVP-Requiem escalates the war between sci-fi’s scariest movie icons!
After a horrifying PredAlien crash-lands near a small Colorado town, killing everyone it encounters and producing countless Alien offspring, a lone Predator arrives to “clean up” the infestation. Soon it’s an all-out battle to the death with no rules, no mercy – and hundreds of innocent people caught in the crossfire. As the creature carnage continues, a handful of human survivors attempt a daring escape, but the U.S. government may be hatching a deadly plan of its own…
eyelights: no CGI xenomorphs.
eyesores: the picture’s inscrutability.
“This plan is stupid. Let’s just leave town now.”
I had never planned to see ‘Alien vs. Predator: Requiem’, the sequel to the problematic ‘Alien vs. Predator‘ picture. But, when I decided to finally finish watching the ‘Alien‘ pictures (after an unplanned and unnecessarily long delay), I figured that I might as well watch the ‘AvP’ films too. And while I was at it, the ‘Predator’ films. Why not?
One of my best friends advised against it. He had only seen the original ‘AvP’ but hated it so much that he prefers it to the incompetent monstrosity that is ‘Predator 2’ (although I disagree with his assessment, it’s saying quite a lot). And I knew full well that ‘AvPR’ is acknowledged to be of even lesser quality than its predecessor.
The question wasn’t “if”. The question was “which one”. You see, as with ‘AvP’, there are two cuts to this picture: a Theatrical cut and an Unrated one. Although there are suggestions that the Unrated cut of ‘AvP’ was the director’s original intention, there is no such “evidence” about ‘AvPR’. It was a guessing game to figure out which one to watch.
Ultimately, I decided to watch the ‘Unrated’ one simply for continuity’s sake. And because it was the version I had (I could have dug up the Theatrical version, but didn’t feel like going out to find it). Also, unlike the ‘Alien’ films, I couldn’t imagine ever watching and critiquing both versions of these films: they’re too insignificant to be bothered with.
Released on Christmas day in 2007, of all things, ‘AvPR’ has mostly been thrashed about by critics, and it apparently has the dubious distinction of garnering the weakest box office gross of either series – when adjusted for inflation (although this seems suspect given ‘Predator 2’s gross) (pun intended). Although initially planned, there has not been a follow-up.
‘Alien vs. Predator: Requiem’ takes up the story that left off at the end of the previous installment, with the hatching of the xenomorph/alien hunter hybrid (which is frequently referred to as the… ugh… “Predalien”). Since the alien hunters of the ship it’s on failed to scan the bodies for potential infections, the thing quickly runs rampant and the ship crashes back to Earth.
Naturally, it falls near a small American town (because the rest of the world doesn’t exist), infects the population, and an alien hunter is sent out to do some damage control – starting with destroying the crashed ship and dissolving any bodies he finds. And then hunting the xenomorphs that are loose in the region – of which there are many, since the ship carried facehuggers.
Thankfully, our intrepid human targets… ahem… protagonists, in this clash of the extra-terrestrial titans are the most compelling of people: an ex-jailbird who has just come back from a three-year stint, his kid brother who is perpetually in trouble with the local law enforcement, his ex-friend who is now the town Sheriff, and a soldier who has just returned to her family.
What serves as exposition consists of interpersonal issues that pit them against other townsfolk and against each other. But let’s face it: who cares? What anyone wants to see in an ‘AvP’ picture is a bunch of nasty, bloody xenomorph and alien hunter action, right? And ‘AvPR’ certainly delivers, serving up gruesome violence from start to finish.
Too bad we couldn’t see most of it: not only does the film start in a spaceship, but then it continues into the town’s sewage system, before breaking out into the town itself – by which point it’s completely dark out. So you can’t see that much of what’s going on. In fact, the picture is so damned dark that I couldn’t keep track of what was happening!
But it does have the double advantage of hiding the picture’s flaws.
(That was a joke. I was being sarcastic. I mean, you gotta laugh to prevent yourself from crying.)
*MAJOR spoiler alert*
The picture’s flaws are noticeable anyway.
In any case, the fact that it’s unclear what the hell is going on is a big problem because it removes the audience from what should be a spectacle – it makes them sit back, incredulous, instead of being on the edge of their seats.
The picture isn’t all bad, though.
I enjoyed that it gave us a few red herrings, like having trouble at the power reactor, which led me to believe that the alien hunter was going to use this to wipe out the town and clean up his mess. I half expected a build up to this disaster, but it never happened.
Of course, one might say that this was a missed opportunity, because it would have cleaned the slate effortlessly. And it would have prevented the bomb run that took place in the end, which is cynical and which has been lifted wholesale from ‘Return of the Living Dead‘.
But, in a similar vein, when the cops are first brought in to find the hunter and his kid, they’re soon joined by a bunch of hicks with rifles. Your average film would have caused tensions between the cops and hicks and then made victims of them all. Not so here. I liked that.
I also liked that our protagonists separated into two camps. They had different visions of how to get out of their predicament and decided to split, some going to their doom and others finding a way out – barely. I liked that it was turned into a choice and that not all choices are good ones.
It was deeply cynical, though, because the ones who chose to follow government orders were victims, adding to a growing distrust of authorities. Add to it the bombing at the end, and the filmmakers clearly are trying to tap into the audiences’ anti-government feelings.
I also liked the final “Predalien” vs alien hunter showdown. It wasn’t exactly the most memorable thing I’ve ever seen, but it was akin to old school kaiju movies that had two big monsters duking it out in the middle of a city/town, with the residents watching helplessly. Except these creatures look cool.
‘AvPR’ also ends with a small twist, introducing Ms. Yutani, one of the founders of the Weyland-Yutani Corporation. This suggested a sequel, but thus far there hasn’t been one, leaving the scene superfluous, as a sort of “gotcha” with no real impact. But maybe a sequel will come. Someday.
*MAJOR spoiler alert*
All told though, I didn’t dislike ‘AvPR’. It doesn’t bring anything new to the plate, but it didn’t disappoint either. The biggest problems are a lack of likeable characters and some lapses in logic, which could probably be ignored by some. And I just can’t ignore the fact that I can’t see half of the picture.
After all, this type of match-up should be something to see – in all its gory, alien glory.
Date of viewing: December 20, 2014