Since we didn't go to Birmingham, Spooky and I went to a matinee of Alien Vs. Predator. Going in, my hopes were high, but my expectations were zero. (NOTE: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS AHEAD) So I was pleasantly surprised when this film that probably never should have been made was actually a lot of fun. As Spooky said during the closing credits, "Big, dumb, and gorgeous." That sums it up nicely. Could it have been something more? Could it at least have been as good as the fourth Alien film? I don't know. Maybe. But the very concept always seemed a juvenile, fanboy gimmick to me, one below the standards of the Alien films (though we know this all began with that shot in Predator II when we see the "alien" skull trophy in the hunter's space ship). I figured it would stink and that, at best, it'd offer up some nice eye-candy. But Alien Vs. Predator is a little better than that. Not a lot. Just a little. Just enough better that I didn't feel cheated. In fact, I found the experience quite satisfactory.
Cons: Really, really dumb science. A human cast that is not only expendible, but annoying and superfluous. Terrible acting. A script that I could have written with my ass (for example, the plot turns on the line, uttered like a great revelation, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend."). Thirty minutes of set-up that would have been better spent just getting to the point. Raoul Bova. An unwillingness on the part of the filmmakers to risk losing the summer blockbuster this won't be anyway and take the chances that would have made this a much better, less formulaic film. A final scene that should have been left on the cutting-room floor. The PG-13 rating. Bullet-time. And did I mention Raoul Bova?
Pros: Truthfully, Giger's aliens have never looked this good. The creature effects alone justify matinee price. The aliens have a grace and fluidity they entirely lacked in Alien, wanted to have in Aliens, and almost achieved in Alien 3 and Alien: Ressurection. Lots of fun nods to the earlier films. Some decent suspense. Agathe De La Boulaye ("Adele Rousseau"), who's the best and cutest thing in humans this film has going for it, so naturally she's the first (or maybe the second) to die. A few (too few) exciting scenes where the aliens and predators actually fight. A moderately awesome climax (though a much more awesome climax wouldn't have simply repeated Ripley blowing the queen out of one of the Sulaco's airlocks). Lance Henrikson. Great SFX and art direction.
So, yes, Big, dumb, and gorgeous. Which is more than I thought I'd get. Yes, it could have been a lot better, but that may not be the point here. The very premise of the film is a rather lame marketing gimmick. Whatever this film was to become, it had to fight that gimmick all the way. I'd have done something very different. I'd have kept the whole thing away from Earth and kept humans out of the picture entirely. How about this: The film is set many thousands of years before the first Alien film. A war has been raging between two intergalactic civilizations. For centuries, the two sides have been locked in stalemate. Then one side genetically engineers the ultimate bioweapon: the aliens. The other side, in a desperate bid to save itself as its empire falls before the quickly spreading bioweapon, hires an army of hunters (the predators), though the hunters are greatly feared and generally avoided at all costs. A terrible deal is struck. On the homeworld of the losing civilization, the predators battle and narrowly defeat the alien menace. Meanwhile, however, there's been an accident, and the aliens have turned on their creators. The film ends with an extraterrestrial starship (the one found by the crew of the Nostromo) being overrun by the aliens and crashing on LV4 26.
No one would make an sf film without humans, of course. My Hollywood agent has told me this repeatedly.
It is interesting that in Alien Vs. Predator some of the concepts intended for the original Alien are ressurected. In the first draft of O'Bannon's script for Alien, the eggs were to have been discovered inside an ancient pryramid-like structure on a desolate alien world, not on a derelict starship. Also, despite the films PG-13 rating, I think Alien Vs. Predator realized Giger's overtly sexual penis-within-a-vagina image of the facehuggers better than any of the Alien films have done.
I'm still not sure how I feel about seeing the beginnings of what would become The Company in Alien, et. al. If that was Charles Bishop Weyland (and obviously the inspiration for the Bishop android), then who was the man who comes for Ripley at the end of Alien 3? A droid? A clone of the original Charles Bishop Weyland? Personally, I prefer to keep this film apart from the continuity of the first four Alien films.
The film also sabotages its own tagline, as, clearly, it's better for humans if the predators win this match.
My frelling gods. Shut up, you damned geek. Go do something that needs doing.