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Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem /

Rated: R

Starring: Steven Pasquale, Johnny Lewis, Reiko Aylesworth, John Ortiz, Ariel Gade

Directed by: Greg Strause, Colin Strause

Produced by: Robbie Brenner, Paul Deason, John Davis

Written by: Shane Salerno

Distributor: 20th Century Fox

     I saw Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem on the day after Christmas, for no other reason than that I felt that it was my critical duty to review it. As far as I was concerned, this installment in the newly-formed series would be, like its predecessor, a mega-success that any reliable journalist would want to cover. But then the unthinkable happened. After a decent opening gross on Christmas Day, the film’s box-office numbers tanked dramatically. I refrained from reviewing it for the remainder of the week, just to see what would happen. After ten days in theatres, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem can officially be considered a dud, with only $32 million of box office in the till and little to come. (The budget, by comparison, was probably around $75 million.) Take that 20th Century Fox! The American Public has dutifully proven to you that, if offered a crapfest that merely cashes-in on the name of a popular franchise (or, in this case, two of them), it will reject said crapfest! I have chosen to review Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem now, only to reinforce the common consensus that it is, without question, a godawful motion picture.

     Much as I disliked Paul W.S. Anderson’s Alien vs. Predator, I must admit that its Antarctic setting and attractive lead actress, Sanaa Lathan, at least made for a good first act. (Once the action took off and the aliens and predators became involved in the story, however, things quickly fell downhill regardless.) This second film in the franchise is directed by the Strause Brothers (who, despite the cocky title, have only previously worked on visual effects teams and never directed anything of substance themselves) and is even worse than its predecessor. The drop in quality isn’t so much related to the action that dominates the film’s second-half, but the fact it is impossible to sympathize for any of the characters. Why should I care about these people getting torn to shreds by aliens and predators if I don’t even like them, even in a trivial sense? Before the title villains show up, the movie is a complete high-school soap-opera, with ex-con Dallas (Steven Pasquale) coming to terms with his bullied young brother Ricky (Johnny Lewis). The set-up feels all too much like the result of incompetent screenwriter Shane Salerno duplicating the plot of an episode of “Saved By the Bell” and attempting to make it dramatic.

     Sooner than later, of course, the aliens and the predators show up, in what the first film informed us was a centuries-long struggle between the two extraterrestrial races. What’s peculiar about this is that the two species of villains never really seem to be fighting each other in this movie. All of their violent behavior is directed at the human characters that live the Colorado town where they have chosen to fight. (For this reason, I suggest that, if a third film in the series somehow gets made, it is provided the much more accurate title Aliens and Predators vs. Humans.) Then again, perhaps I missed the point of the exercise somewhere in all of the incomprehensibly-staged action-sequences, which make it nearly-impossible for the viewer to figure out what’s going on. To their credit, the Strause Brothers make some improvements on the in-your-face-‘til-you-can’t-take-it-anymore approach to fight-scenes utilized by Anderson’s first film, but not enough to make a marked difference. If either group of villains reigned victorious at some point in Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, then my shaken-sensibilities must’ve missed it. 

     But, again, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem represents more of a reason to be hopeful than it does a reason to fret. Unless the movie finds an unexpectedly gigantic audience in foreign markets, there won’t be another installment in the franchise released in theatres. (A straight-to-DVD sequel, however, seems unfortunately inevitable.) Hopefully, this failure will work to set a tone in Hollywood that is less accepting of name-recognition-based cash-ins like this one. Maybe even the Halloween series will soon see the End of the Road? Well, perhaps I shouldn’t get too far ahead of myself…

-Danny Baldwin, Bucket Reviews

Review Published on: 1.4.2008

Screened on: 12.26.2007 at the Regal Escondido 16 in Escondido, CA.


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