What the ****? Where did this come from? Where the hell did this movie come from?Liam O’Donnell, creative consultant for AVP R, on the AVP franchise, 2017
Posting has been rather infrequent the past two weeks, and I think I would owe a lot of that to whatever the hell movie it was that I watched for this review.
Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem is no one’s first choice. I can only hope that it was not yours, and it definitely wasn’t mine. There is always at least one movie in a franchise where one has to ask why it was made, and that is where you have a great possibility of losing your audience: Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem is one such movie. It is simultaneously a cheap and expensive burning of money on the screen and most probably felt that when leaving the theater (as of writing, AVP R stands at a 12% critic score and 30% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes). Scenes are incredibly poorly lit, CGI was passable but still bad for the time, and the acting seemed like it came straight out of a Friday the 13th movie. Let’s break it down:
Alien Vs. Predator left us with a fairly interesting cliff hanger that we now see come to fruition: The last predator to fight and die in battle gives birth to a dreaded mix between the most feared species on Earth: a xenomorph and a predator. This crossbreed destroys the ship leaving Earth and crashes onto the surface, killing those that were controlling the ship and the xenomorphs held captive. Now on the outskirts of a small town in Colorado, the dangerous aliens begin to kill and breed with everyone around. The only hope for earth now rests in the deadly equipment of a new predator hunter. With the predator tracking and killing xenomorphs throughout the town, a small group of townsfolk try desperately to escape before they meet a grim fate.
Like An X-Files One-Off, But Worse
The mini franchise that is AVP has now gone in the direction of being something very much akin to an 80’s slasher film. Locations no longer include space stations or colonies on other planets or even ancient tombs; they are instead things like diners and high school pools, and homeless camps in sewers. It takes the already limited universe of both movie franchises and limits them further by making very silly choices, like being located in “Everytown, USA.” This, being an obviously not good approach for a wide film audience, was something that I thought was incredibly comical. I especially enjoyed the feeling like this movie was just another episode in a television show like X-Files.
Attempts to give anyone in the little town some character are completely forgotten by the second act of the movie. We have a cast of about a dozen people that truly matter, and then the rest are Skyrim NPCs that have one or two lines of dialogue, and then get horribly murdered by space monsters. There’s no reason for every character to have a say in the overall plot, and the other movies have plenty of NPC-ish characters, but this movie makes true strides in trying to characterize some lower rung people. In the beginning, facehuggers come out of the woods and attack a hunter and his son. Throughout the entire film, there is the wife and mother (Chelah Horsdal) spending screen time asking around for them and becoming a useless part of the team. If it had been just some easy shock value to have a nameless man and child killed by monsters, then that would be fine. But the movie had to connect them to a useless person they added to the team in order to justify the woman’s importance in the plot.
Main characters don’t help what’s going on either. If there was a bingo card for cheesy horror movie tropes, then this movie could probably be used to play that version of the game. For some reason, there is screen time dedicated to a strange love connection between two high schoolers (Johnny Lewis and Kristen Hager). It only serves to get partial nudity on screen and some lousy motivation for a character in the last fifteen minutes of the movie. The main cast also includes a really bad Sheriff (John Ortiz: more about him later), a recently released ex-con (Stephen Pasquale), and soldier returning from tour (Reiko Aylesworth). All of these people are friends or are related in some form, and it’s super weird how they interact. Some of them have conversations like we’re supposed to know that they know each other, and the soldier and former prisoner have a weird chemistry, like the characters used to date. The entire makeup of the cast is strange and will leave more questions than answers at the last minute of the movie.
Like An Aliens Movie, But Worse
The main alien aspects of this movie are no better than the lame human characters. If anything, the predator and the aliens are more disappointing, and that is a really big shame. Humans rank fourth as the worst species in this movie, with xenomorphs coming in as a close third. I might be someone who is hard to please with sci-fi creatures and effects, but even reviewers much more lenient than I were underwhelmed by the xenomorph presence. They had a look that was almost like their appearance in Aliens: they looked like they had super intricate designs on their heads like someone might illustrate in a comic book. As well as looking weird, xenomorphs in this movie do next to nothing throughout the entire film. You see an occasional hissing sequence that’s a regular thing in the series, and there’s one scene dedicated to them attacking the military stealthily… and that’s it. The xenomorphs are slightly more lackluster than their overall appearance in the first crossover event.
The archetypal slasher and overall selling point of the movie is by far the most disappointing thing: the xenomorph and predator crossbreed. It is incredible how, despite being the one thing that needed to be in the movie to justify a sequel, the crossbreed monster is by far the most underlit thing in the whole production. Every time the crossbreed is on screen, the it is off center or really hard to see in the poor lighting. Sometimes it looks so bad that I could not tell it apart from a different xenomorph or the predator fighting it. I’ll admit that premise is interesting, and I’ll even go so far as to admit that a younger me was absolutely pumped when I saw the cliff hanger in AVP that showed the crossbreed monster as a chestburster. It was great…for a nine-year-old. But as we all have become bitter and jaded, I too have grown to look at the presentation of the monster with an overwhelming feeling of “meh”. If they had just adjusted the brightness of the movie past murky water levels, then maybe a center-framed monster would completely change my mind.
Everyone Is Bad At Their Job
It is starting to become a trend in these movies that people are really bad at what they do. It has been more harmless in the past, even being comical as with the dumb prisoners in Alien 3 that don’t know their butt from a hole in the ground. But it is more and more obvious that the AVP movies can only have dumb characters in their movies because the writers can’t think of clever ways of getting past the characters’ expertise. Ripley is clever is the original four movies, and so the xenomorphs have to come up with smarter ways of getting past her and her friend’s defenses.
That is not the case in this movie. The Sheriff (Ortiz) is so bad at his job that he lets his ex-con friend rob a gun store with a bunch of teenagers. There is nothing really that clever about writing a character who is incredibly incompetent and dies from being incompetent. It could POSSIBLY be argued that a sheriff would let people shoot guns alongside him when a monster attack happens, but you would think that he would want to choose people more capable than high school seniors and a former criminal.
A bigger failure than the town sheriff is the predator that’s entire job is to keep these things from happening. I have said it before in the previous post, but predators are incredibly bad at their job. they go around playing cleanup crew, and then are slain by the littlest of aliens that THEY breed on this planet. The predator in this constantly gets himself overwhelmed in fights and just barely makes it out alive when the xenomorphs find something else more interesting to do. I can’t believe how audiences would like the predator after the botched jobs they have done in the AVP movies. Only one thing is easily killed by the predator in this movie, and that is the high school girl who walks right into a death frisbee. Collateral killing, but added to the predator kill-count nonetheless. In the end of the movie, when the crossbreed and predator fight to the death, the human military ends up winning with a nuclear bomb.
Closing Thoughts: The Things I Like
Of this movie’s staggering amount of missteps, there are just a few things I would like to mention that gave me a chuckle. Firstly, I actually liked that the predator was so bad at fighting that he is constantly almost dying. While unintentional, it added something to the movie that I think should be explored legitimately in a later title. I also enjoyed just how comically over-the-top the military is. They are almost like something you would see in an episode of Family Guy: so ready to nuke something they don’t understand that it’s a wonder they haven’t killed everyone yet. Lastly, I was interested in the idea that the high school girl (Hager) was interested in the loser high school boy (Lewis). Usually they don’t meet until the crisis and form a bond through being murdered, getting to know each other. Instead, she has the hots for him despite dating someone else, and is brutally murdered in what seems like a mistake in the writing.
Final Verdict: 1 out of 5 (or, the amount of times I want to watch this movie)
The movie is… bad. I really don’t like giving things a 1 out of 5, but this is one of few that actually deserve it. Every idea is so poorly executed, and nearly everything is surface level with no amount of cleverness or competence. Characters all act nothing like human beings and the monsters just walk around set pieces like they’d rather being doing other things. The main draw to the film, the crossbreed, is a complete fart in a hot shower: kind of gross and something very disappointing to be around. While there are things that make the movie fun, there are boner comedies or slasher films with the same things that are much better. Because none of the events of this film are canon, you would be wise to avoid this film entirely, and instead just pretend it doesn’t exist. Besides me, I’m sure most fans of the franchises have done the same since its release in 2007.