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Alien Vs. Predator? What sort of marketing gimmick is this?

Comic Book Guy

Spotting bad dialogue and plot holes misses the point of AVP
Spotting bad dialogue and plot holes misses the point of AVP

Actually, as my pal John explains, there has long been a world in the comics culture in which both of these sci-fi/action creatures co-exist. The aliens from the Alien movies were bred as prey for the predators from the Predator movies, because every other living thing in the universe was too easy to hunt. Neither movie hinted at this connection, but comic culture has adopted it as lore.

John and I had high hopes. We figured that since AVP looks like such a ripoff, most executives would want nothing to do with it. And if the right creative talent were involved, they might be able to make AVP under Hollywood’s radar, and produce something truly interesting. Would AVP be 2004’s Pitch Black?

Not exactly. AVP isn’t an undiscovered gem. On the other hand, for what it is, it’s actually not too bad. It has thrills, chills, and plenty of action. And although I kept making note of all the bad dialogue and logic holes, it struck me that I was missing the point of the movie. This is Alien Vs. Predator, after all; what do you expect?

Pyramid Power

The story begins when a satellite owned by billionaire Charles Bishop Weyland (Lance Henriksen, of Aliens fame) notices an unidentified heat signature in “Sector 14” (AKA Antarctica).It looks like there’s something manmade down under the ice.

So Weyland assembles a crack team to investigate. He hires security, archaeologists (Raoul Bova), historians, a chemical engineer (Ewen Bremner, Trainspotting), and the best ice guide in the world, Alexa Woods (Sanaa Lathan).

According to scans, they’ve found some sort of ancient pyramid, and when they arrive, they discover it blends the styles of three ancient civilizations — Aztec, Cambodian, and Egyptian.

Speaking of Dialogue

Nobody in the party has ever seen this Antarctic pyramid before, but these experts immediately, without dating any samples, know that it must predate the three cultures (and not be a copy of the three cultures). That’s one example of writer/director Paul W.S. Anderson’s swiss-cheese script.

Another is that the experts can read and understand these ancient runes as though they were a newspaper. The runes just happen to explain the backstory, starting with “A long time ago....” One expert even recognizes, just by looking at the runes, something he couldn’t have possibly seen before: “It looks like some sort of combination lock!” This is the same expert who figures out that the Aztecs were using base 10, so the pyramidal shifts are happening every 10 minutes (ignoring the fact that a minute is a modern convention that depends on a 24-hour day and a 60-minute hour).

Or how about this insult-to-intelligence: Alexa spies one of the predators who has just killed an alien. It picks up an alien finger, still dripping with corrosive acid, and etches a T onto its helmet. But apparently for the benefit of 6-year-olds sneaking in to this film, she says “he’s marking himself!”

The Point

But as I said, to focus on the bad dialogue and plot holes is to miss the point. The point of this movie is to see the aliens and the predators kick some butt, and to see if humanity survives their war in Antarctica (er, Sector 14). The pyramid is a cool setting with angular nooks and crannies. It has lots of corners around which anything could be lurking, and plenty of antarctic mist for their laser and flashlight beams. The pyramid also has Raiders-esque traps; stone slabs shift every 10 minutes and change the geography inside the pyramid. (Tailor-made for a video game tie-in.)

The aliens seem to grow a little faster than the ones introduced in Alien, and maybe they seem a little less dangerous, but they’re still fun to watch. The predators are nasty humanoids, but with their attention focused on the aliens, the human team is able to stay out of their line of fire. One human survivor even learns to travel with a predator for protection from the aliens.

It’s a little surprising that the movie is only PG-13, since the Alien and Predator movies were all R-rated, but Anderson cuts away from the horrible deaths, only showing the splashes of blood. It probably would have been a better R-rated movie; it might have been even scarier and more thrilling. But a new generation is adopting my generation’s horror films, and they’ll do what they want.

Luckily, they could have done a lot worse.