I’ve loved both of the Alien and Predator franchises since I was a kid, having watched the films almost every weekend when I stayed around my grandparents house. As such, I was hugely excited for the Alien Vs Predator films when they were announced. It probably won’t come as a surprise to say that I, like many others, was disappointed with the films, but were they really that bad?
The first film in the Alien vs Predator franchise is easily the best of the two films, with almost all fans agreeing that it wins out over the sequel. Set on modern day Earth, the Weyland Corporation discovers an ancient pyramid deep beneath the ice of Antarctica. Assembling a team of specialists, they investigate the structure, only to find themselves caught between two warring alien races.
Now, this isn’t a great film, not by any margin, however it does have a lot of good elements to it that work well when taken separately. The concept of the Predators using Earth to hunt Xenomorphs is good. The fight scenes are well choreographed. The effects are good for the time. Unfortunately, the film never really works. Perhaps this is because much of the story feels rushed, with very little sense of time passing during the events of the film. One moment a character is being attacked by a facehugger, and then five minutes later they’re giving birth to an Xenomorph.
These two events may be happening hours apart, but the film fails to give any sense of this. As a result, things escalate very quickly, and a conclusion happens before you realise you’re at the end of the film. This quick pace not only makes the story feel disjointed, but destroys any sense of tension, as there’s never a slower moment for the film to build suspense.
Whether this short run time was a studio decision, or simply the original story as written is unknown, but it’s definitely a major factor to the films poor reception. If the film had been given more room to tell its story, get to know its characters, and to build tension it would have been much better received.
Where the first Alien Vs Predator film was a collection of good moments poorly presented, there is little to nothing redeeming about the sequel, Alien Vs Predator: Requiem.
Following on almost directly from the first film, the sequel follows the Predator/Xenomorph hybrid, Predalien, from the finale as it causes a Predator scout ship to crash just outside a small American town. As the Predalien is a queen it begins to infect people across the town, creating its own hive. In response to this the Predators dispatch an experienced alien hunter to destroy the creatures.
Whilst the idea of having the Xenomorphs spread through an average town might initially seem like a terrifying thought it quickly becomes apparent that the aliens just don’t work in the real world and look totally out of place. There are a few moments in the film that have some good action, with the Predator hunting Xenomorphs in the sewers being particularly impressive, many of the other scenes in the film feel like a letdown in comparison.
The human characters also have very little going for them, with none of the characters feel particularly likeable. The ex-con and his kid brother are dull, with the younger brothers story of dealing with school bullies and winning over a girl falling flat on its face. The mother returning from war and reconnecting with her daughter is clearly supposed to be trying to evoke the same kind of relationship as Ripley and Newt from Aliens, but there’s so little characterisation or time given to them that I often forgot that the woman even had a daughter.
Whilst the film does embrace the R-rating of the films it’s based upon blood and gore don’t make up for a lacklustre plot and boring action sequences. The creature effects don’t feel as good as the first film either, perhaps because the Xenomorphs are now inside peoples homes and running down streets, which does kind of take something away from the horror of them.
The Alien Vs Predator films aren’t great cinema. They’re not going to be remembered as groundbreaking, or as a classic. The first film is still a competent and entertaining movie, however, though one that suffers for its quick pace. Unfortunately, because of just how utterly terrible the sequel is it often gets remembered as worse than it was. If you want to mindless monster fun the first film will scratch that itch, but the sequel is still best avoided.
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