Director – Paul W.S. Anderson
Cast – Sanaa Lathan, Raoul Bova, Lance Henriksen, Ewen Bremner, Colin Salmon, Tommy Flanagan, Joseph Rye, Agathe de La Boulaye, Carsten Norgaard, Sam Troughton
Release Year – 2004
Reviewed by John of the Dead
I will start off by stating that YES, this film is a guilty pleasure of mine. Ever since childhood I have been an avid fan of both the Alien and Predator series, so naturally I was pretty damn stoked when I learned that this film was FINALLY going to happen. There seems to be quite a bit of hate for this flick, which I have noticed mostly comes from fan boys who balk at the fact that this comes directed by the often ridiculed Paul W. S. Anderson(Event Horizon, Resident Evil, Resident Evil: Afterlife), but I like what appeals to me, and this film succeeds at doing just that.
When a private satellite belonging to mega millionaire Charles Bishop Weyland(Lance Henriksen; Aliens, Alien 3, Pumpkinhead, The Horror Show) comes across a heat source emitting from an ancient pyramid buried thousands of feet beneath the Bouvetoya Island in the Antarctic Ocean, he assembles a team of the best archeologists, engineers, etc. to lead him on a journey to locate the pyramid and its energy source. When the team arrives at the mouth of the pyramid they realize that they are not the first people there, but no equipment of visual tracks can be found. Little do they know, they have not stumbled upon a man-made pyramid created by the very first civilization on Earth, but a battleground in which every 100 years the Predators battle the Aliens in a fight to the death…and they have planted themselves in the middle of this epic war.
If you want some good Alien and Predator action, as well as some Alien vs. Predator action, then this film should be enough to satisfy your needs. Ignore whatever negative remarks you have heard regarding this film, and after my review give this film a watch, whether you have seen it or not. I honestly believe that most of the hate comes from the fact that the studio passed over James Cameron’s Sigourney Weaver-starring screenplay for Alien 5 for this money-grabbing idea, as well as the fact that it comes directed and co-written by one of horror’s most ridiculed directors…Paul W. S. Anderson. If you have mocked and belittled this film solely for these reasons then shame on you. Why? Because every film deserves a chance to deliver its horror, and I honestly feel that this flick has received an unfair wrap from some very close-minded horror purists.
I really dug the storyline for this one, and being that I never read the AVP comics I really cannot say whether or not the film follows the comic storyline. Nonetheless, I enjoyed that it involved a team of the world’s greatest minds, in their respective fields, trekking to one of the world’s most isolated regions and throwing themselves in a situation that they know they are not fully prepared for. The isolated Arctic tundra provides a nice nowhere-to-run scenario given they are miles from the nearest sign of civilization, and the elements are unbearable if you do not have the proper shelter. To make matters even cooler…our protagonists are being brutally killed off by two species of creatures that have no concern for what happens to us, and will dispose of any human who gets in their way. The dialogue can be cheezy at times, but that is expected with such a big Hollywood film. We can most likely attribute most of the dialogue faults to Paul. W. S. Anderson, although I was very surprised to learn that original Alien writer Dan O’ Bannon(The Return of the Living Dead, Dead and Buried) contributed to the overall storyline. As far as characters go we get a plethora of different characters thanks to the different fields of expertise that were required to get Mr. Wheyland to where he wanted to be, so I found this character element pretty enjoyable and believe it contributed positively towards the film. As far as the character usage I felt that some of the characters were killed off a bit too early, leaving only one main character alive for the remaining 30 minutes of the film, but I really cannot say whether or not it was a good or bad idea, I just personally did not care for such a tactic. The back-story behind the war between the Aliens and the Predators is awesome, and I really enjoyed that early civilizations such as the Aztecs were thrown into the mix, which I believe should satisfy those of you who believe that aliens, not humans, built the ancient pyramids and gave us the mindset for the technology that we have today.
As far as direction goes I really do believe that Paul W. S. Anderson delivered a positive effort with this film. His sets are good and well constructed, the lighting and camerawork is well done, and he delivers some good action and creature carnage for us to enjoy as well. We get quite a few very satisfying kills, which include all three types of characters: humans, aliens, and predators as well. I was surprised to see that he did not use as much CGI effects as I expected him to, and he only used such FX when it was pretty much impossible to accomplish with live-action effects. The pacing of the film is good, and I never found myself faced with a dull moment in the film’s 85 minute runtime. Yes, that is correct, the actual runtime for the film itself is 85 minutes, with an additional 12 minutes or so of ending credits, making the total effort a 97 minute watch if you watch it till the 20 Century Fox logo “adorns” the screen. He is definitely not one of horror’s finest, but Paul W. S. Anderson managed to throw together numerous fun and enjoyable elements into this flick in what I call a successful attempt to bring on a “popcorn” film involving two of horror’s greatest franchises.
Overall, this is a positive watch that I found highly enjoyable despite the negative remarks coming from close-minded horror purists. If you want a cool story, good alien vs. predator vs. humans action, and plenty of cheeze and gory kills to go around then this surprisingly well-made PG-13 watch should do the trick.