Friday, August 8, 2008

Movie Review: Alien vs. Predator: Requiem

Alien vs. Predator: Requiem

Starring: Steven Pasquale, Reiko Aylesworth, John Ortiz, Johnny Lewis, Kristen Hager, John Woodruff, Jr., and Ian Whyte

Directed by: Colin and Greg Strause

Written by: Shane Salerno

Production Companies: Twentieth Century Fox, Brandywine Productions, Davis Entertainment, and Dune Entertainment

Release Date: December 25, 2007

I liked every movie in the Alien series, even the ones most didn't. I liked both Predator films, though the second didn't come close to the original. And the original Alien vs. Predator film kept me happy. So when I saw there was a second Alien vs. Predator, I thought it was an easy win.

I was wrong...

An alien bursts out of the chest of a Predator as the Predator ship tries to leave Earth. The Predalien causes the Predator ship to crash back to Earth near a small town. On the Predator homeworld, a battlescarred Predator learned of the disaster and heads to Earth to learn what happened. Soon, the populace of the small town find themselves caught between the Predator and a growing alien horde led by the Predalien.

With such a simple plot and cool aliens, how could it go wrong? Acting?

Well, I will say, all around, the acting was unconvincing, but about par for this type of film. Steven Pasquale did a reasonable job as Dallas, but Johnny Lewis, as Dallas's brother Ricky, just couldn't pull it off. Dallas's buddy, Sheriff Morales, is played by John Ortiz, who seemed unable to muster any emotion and delivered his lines as if reading them for the first time. Reiko Aylesworth is Kelly, a soldier mom whose husband gets killed by the Aliens and is trying to save herself and her daughter. Reiko also comes off reasonably believable. Finally, Kristin Hager plays Ricky's love interest, Jesse, and while upstaging Lewis, doesn't pull off a strong acting performance.

John Woodruff, Jr. as the Predalien and Ian Whyte as the Predator was really all you needed for a decent sci-fi action thriller however. Even if the human roles can't produce an emotional investment from the viewers, the titles characters should have kept us interested. What happened?

A lot of menace was lost by overly dark shots. Monster movies showing too much of the monster and ruining the illusion is a common problem, but in AVP: Requiem they go the other direction. Many shots I just couldn't tell what was going on. Fear can be produced by not showing everything and letting the mind wander and fill in the gaps based on what is heard and implied, but they were trying to show. A direct shot of the alien killing someone, but you can't tell what happened.

And the script was just nonsensical. A ship crashes outside of a small town and no one except a father and son out for an early hunt. It would have been heard. It would have been noticed. But I can do suspension of disbelief...I'm a pro at it...

The Jesse-Ricky relationship is forced. The Predator kills humans when they aren't a threat to him and his goal is the Alien. He dissolves evidence of the aliens, but leaves a skinned body to be found. The Predalien is able to lay Alien eggs without a face hugger and three Aliens come out. The acid blood of the Aliens is used inconsistently, such as when the Predator stomps on an Alien head despite the acid.

Then there was the stuff done simply for shocks. Many horror films use gore and such for shock value and to get attention, but there are a few...very few...shocks that I consider unusable, and using pregnant women and new born babies just turns me off.

That doesn't mean it was all bad. The effects were good, and the scenes when our main characters are trying to figure out what to do and you can hear screams and gun shots in the background as the Aliens overrun the city are well put together. And the final fight scene between the Predator and the Predalien was great.

But Requiem means a mass or service for the dead...and if this is the point at which the Alien and Predator franchises have gotten, then hopefully this film will be a requiem for a series of previously wonderful films.

Where Are They Now?

Steven Pasquale has not been seen in a film since AVPR

Reiko Aylesworth has turned towards comedy and appears in the 2008 dark comedy BuzzKill. A struggling writer, Ray Wyatt, acquires fame in an unusual way when a notorious serial murderer, named the Karaoke Killer, steals his car and the newest draft of his script.

John Ortiz has several movies in production, but no horror films. In 2009 he'll appear in Pinkville about Army general William R. Peers (Bruce Willis) who investigates the My Lai Massacre, an event in which several hundred Vietnamese civilians were killed by U.S. soldiers. It's being directed by Oliver Stone and is labelled as a drama and a horror. His next big screen release will be Pride and Glory, a saga centered on a multi-generational family of New York City Police officers. The family's moral codes are tested when Ray Tierney (Edward Norton), investigates a case that reveals an incendiary police corruption scandal involving his own brother-in-law (Colin Farrell). For Ray, the truth is revelatory, a Pandora's Box that threatens to upend not only the Tierney legacy but the entire NYPD. Pride and Glory is set to be released on October 24, 2008.

Johnny Lewis doesn't have any movies in production. His next horror film was One Missed Call. In this remake of the Japanese horror film "Chakushin Ari" (2003), several people start receiving voice-mails from their future selves -- messages which include the date, time, and some of the details of their deaths. One Missed Call was released opn January 4, 2008 and is out on DVD.

Kristen Hager currently appears in the comic adaptation Wanted. A frustrated office worker learns that he is the son of a professional assassin, and that he shares his father's superhuman killing abilities.

John Woodruff, Jr. plays the wolfman in Cirque du Freak set for an unspecified release date in 2008. A young boy named Darren Shan meets a mysterious man at a freak show who turns out to be a Vampire. After a series of events Darren must leave his normal life and go on the road with the Cirque Du Freak and become a Vampire.

Ian Whyte plays Hellboy in Disaster Movie to be released on August 29, 2008. The comedy, following in the same vein as Scary Movie, Not Another Teen Movie, etc is about an unsuspecting group of twenty-somethings who, over the course of one evening, find themselves bombarded by a series of natural disasters and catastrophic events.

The Brothers Strause don't have any directing jobs at the moment, but are working special effects on several films including X-Men Origins: Wolverine to be released May 1, 2009.

Shane Salerno is working on the screenplay for Meg still in pre-production. Based on the novel by Steve Alton, it involves Carcharodon Megalodon, the 70 foot, 40ton prehistoric cousin of the great white shark, rising from the abyss.

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