Alien vs. Predator: Requiem (United States, 2007)

A movie review by James Berardinelli
Alien vs. Predator: Requiem Poster

Ho, ho, ho - the joke's on anyone who pays to see this. Twentieth Century Fox has left movie-goers a steaming turd under the Christmas tree. Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (which will hereafter be called by its "clever" marketing moniker, AVPR, since that requires less typing) is the pointless and unnecessary sequel to the equally pointless and unnecessary original, Aliens vs. Predator. Without going into gory details about how this spin-off series has eviscerated the creatures from which its title is derived, suffice it to say that it's harder to think of a bigger comedown for the monsters of Alien, Aliens, and Predator than this.

Looking at the film's credits provokes a single reaction: Who are these people? I recognize Reiko Aylesworth because she spent a few seasons playing third or fourth fiddle to Kiefer Sutherland in 24, but no one else is familiar. As for the behind-the-scenes staff… The writer is Shane Salerno, who has the dubious distinction of being involved in the "adaptation" of Armageddon. (Don't ask what it was adapted from - maybe notes on the back of cafeteria napkins.) The directors, stepping into the big shoes once filled by Ridley Scott, James Cameron, and John McTiernan, are the Brothers Strause. This is their feature debut. One can be forgiven hoping it will also be their feature swansong.

As a film critic, I should know what to expect from a movie that has not been shown beforehand to members of my profession, but hope springs eternal. The "no screenings" policy is a tacit warning from the studio that the movie stinks but the suits who greenlighted it agree with P.T. Barnum that there's a sucker born every minute. The target audience is comprised of those who like a lot of mindless action and gore, are indifferent to plot, and care even less about characters. In short, AVPR is being pitched at teenage boys, who (theoretically) can't get in because the movie has avoided the self-neutering necessary to obtain a PG-13 (something its predecessor did). Based on a cursory glance around the nearly empty auditorium where I saw the film, not a lot of teenage boys were making the effort to sneak in.

Going into AVPR, I found myself wondering if there was any way the sequel could outdo the original in terms of creative bankruptcy, tedious "action", and overall awfulness. This is one of many times when I have underestimated Hollywood. Of course the filmmakers found a way to top the first movie - that's what second installments are for. Every jagged edge has been made serrated, every plot hole has been widened, and every sleep inducing chase-and-kill scene has been dosed with a tranquilizer. There are copious amounts of blood and gore, but Sweeney Todd does this sort of thing better.

The movie starts off with a space ship crashing in the middle of the Colorado wilderness. On board is a Predator/Alien hybrid and a small army of facehuggers. The adorable little critters get out of the ship and start latching onto whatever humans are unfortunate enough to be in the immediate area. Meanwhile, back at Predator central, a Predator has been dispatched to Earth to take out the aliens and the hybrid. While he's en route, we are introduced to the generic characters who will comprise the human collateral damage portion of the movie: an ex-con named Dallas (Steven Pasquale) and his whiny younger brother, Ricky (Johnny Lewis); Kelly (Rieko Aylesworth), a soldier just home from Iraq; and Sheriff Eddie Morales (John Ortiz), who spends the movie looking alternatively bored or confused. The first 45 minutes of AVPR is set-up as we "get to know" these cardboard characters. The second half is the bloodletting, where lots of things happen but it's usually too dark to figure out what's going on.

For a movie called Aliens vs. Predator, there's not a lot of "versus" going on. There are some cursory fights but they happen so quickly and in such poor light that there's little hope of figuring out what's going on. The climactic battle royale is about as disappointing as can be and requires a deus ex machina to wrap things up. Humans get killed along the way, but they're just distractions and diversions. The movie also has an unforgivable sadistic streak. There's a scene in which a little boy watches his father die then has an alien explode out of his chest. Later, the hybrid invades a hospital and takes out a bunch of pregnant women in a gory and unspeakable fashion. These scenes aren't shocking or scary, they're just sickening.

I can't figure out who might appreciate this movie. Those who are expecting to sit back, stop thinking, and watch cool wall-to-wall battles are going to be disappointed. Those who yearn for a movie to recapture the long-lost horror and glory of the original creatures are going to be borderline suicidal. And those who merely want to see a good movie will be demanding their money back before the pizza delivery boy gets his ass kicked at the house of the gorgeous blond. Simply put, AVPR is trash. It should be burned with the rest of the garbage that accumulates on Christmas Day.

Alien vs. Predator: Requiem (United States, 2007)

Director: Colin Strause, Greg Strause
Cast: Steven Pasquale, Reiko Aylesworth, John Ortiz, Johnny Lewis, Ariel Gade, Kristen Hager
Screenplay: Shane Salerno
Cinematography: Daniel C. Pearl
Music: Brian Tyler
U.S. Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Run Time: 1:25
U.S. Release Date: 2007-12-25
MPAA Rating: "R" (Violence, Profanity)
Subtitles: none
Theatrical Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1