Although I'm ashamed to say I was drunk when I saw Aliens Versus Predator at the cinema
(well at least I
had fun), I've been assured that it isn't much more fun when sober. A clumsy cut-and-shut of two trusty franchises directed by a true cinematic hack, it took a great concept - pit two of the baddest alien motherfuckers in the universe against one another - and somehow made it duller than a bent spoon. The sequel never really looked like faring better (when Paul WS Anderson has better things to do, you know you're onto a loser) so it's no surprise to report that Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem is an equally vacant affair; brainless, wasteful and likely to be enjoyed considerably more when viewed in an alcoholic stupor.
Following on immediately from the finalé of its predecessor - in which an alien inexplicably bursts from the chest of a dead Predator - we're witness to the birth of a baffling new beast: the Predalien. [Pause for groan]. Yep, the bastard lovechild of sci-fi's greatest monsters is on the loose - complete with mommy's teeth and daddy's dreadlocks - and causes the Predator ship to crash land on Earth. There, both species proceed to ass-blast any fleshy human stereotypes - Mysterious Loner, Small-Town Sheriff, Hot Blonde etc. - that get in their way.
It won't take long before you realise the pretentiously named directors 'The Brothers Strause' have screwed the pooch. The present-day Earth setting is an astoundingly mundane backdrop for what should be a titanic intergalactic smackdown, betraying the exotic origins of both creatures in order to awkwardly shoehorn them into a standard slasher template. Out go the trademark tense set-pieces that are typical of both franchises; in come a number of bog-standard 'boo!' scares, including the customary window frightener and a scene in which a xenomorph terrorises some sexy teens in a swimming pool. Nice going, geniuses - way to drag the coolest futuristic monsters ever into the crappy present.
If this was a simple slasher movie, then it'd be instantly forgettable. But a film with such prestige needs to be so much more than throwaway nonsense. There's literally limitless potential with these franchises - dollars to donuts I could find better fan fiction online in ten minutes - but AvP:R steadfastly sticks to its depressingly familiar set-up. One early tantalising glimpse of the Predator homeworld does raise a little interest but simply begs the question: how much better would this movie have been set there instead? AvP:R adds nothing to the mythos of either franchise, aside from a ridiculously OTT final line that comes across a desperate attempt to gain some much needed credibility.
Aside from a few neat sequences scattered throughout - the sewer showdown is undeniably cool and one cast members carks it in truly memorable fashion - Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem is a pale imitation of its many predecessors. So much so, it'll make you embarrassed to be a fan: this
is how a new generation of film lovers will grow up knowing these iconic creations. Alien and Predator have been repackaged and re-marketed to a new, younger, stupider generation; one who demand gore, loud music and nothing else. Why does every fight scene have to be spliced into nano-second cuts, swathed in darkness and drenched in rain? Are we expected to give three shits about some lame-brained love story? Christ, we're old. It finally happened.
If this is what the future holds for both franchises, then today's youngsters are welcome to it. We'll keep our images of Ripley in the power-loader and Jesse Ventura cutting down the rainforest, and you can keep your identikit teens in mild peril. AvP:R is a pitiful puppet show: a pair of inept directors have been allowed to slip their hands up the arses of both creatures and have made them dance to their sorry tune. Kids may enjoy the show, but the rest of us are better off sticking to the past to get our future sci-fi kicks. Hell, I'll drink to that.