Alien vs. Predator (2004)—Mind-Numbingly Dumb Action
Before Prey reinvigorated the Predator franchise, but after the first two good Alien movies, comes this crossover hinted in at the end of Predator 2. Directed by none other than Paul W.S. Anderson, who’s famous for his film adaptations of famous video game franchises such as Resident Evil and Mortal Kombat, comes Alien vs Predator!
Weyland Corporation hires several explorers on an expedition to an abandoned pyramid in Antarctica. During the expedition, the explorers are attacked by a small group of Predators, killing them one by one. As the remaining explorers delve deeper into the pyramid, they find what appears to be ancient Mayan ruins and Egyptian hieroglyphics detailing that the Predators would be worshiped as gods on Earth while breeding a race of Xenomorphs to hunt. A horde of Xenomorphs awaken from the depths of the pyramid and begin engaging in direct battle with the Predators.
Derivative is the best description of the film’s plot. From the Alien vs. Predator comics to At the Mountains of Madness, the most consistent element about the film is what it takes from other sources. If the plot was good then this wouldn’t matter much, however the plot is not good. It is a simple plot, but it is barely memorable. The characters don’t add much, with the only significant ones being Lance Henriksen as Weyland and the film’s lead, Alexa played by Sanaa Lathan, who has some good moments.
This film felt very similar to many other films that came out around 2004. While watching the first half, I kept making comparisons to the Resident Evil films and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. One aspect I noticed in several Paul W.S. Anderson films is the presence of a strong female character. However, I feel like Paul’s idea of a strong female character is just a woman who fights as good as if not better than the men around her while not having much personality. But at least this time the lead wasn’t overpowered and was somewhat interesting. Alexa is resourceful and a quick thinker, being able to befriend a Predator and help it fight against the Xenomorphs. Additionally, the fact that she wielded a spear made from the tail of a Xenomorph while using its head as a shield makes her all the more badass.
What this film, along with some of Paul’s other films have in common is the abysmal editing. For some reason, Paul really likes to use quick cuts and close ups during fight scenes. This makes it really hard for the audience to keep track of what’s happening on screen and just ends up infuriating viewers. Combined with the darkly-lit atmospheres, the fight scenes are so incomprehensible that a scene suffering from buffering issues would have the same impact. And while I do have to say the film’s editing is far superior to Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, that isn’t a high bar to clear in the slightest.
Although I have been lambasting Alien vs. Predator for its poor quality, I want to make clear that everything I say about Paul W.S. Anderson is directed towards his filmmaking and not to him as a person. And since I’ve had so much negative things to say about Alien vs. Predator, I should say something I liked about it. Compared to his other films I’ve seen thus far, I find Alien vs. Predator to be the most entertaining. While the film started out slow, it quickly picks up the pace when the Predator and Xenomorphs finally fight. The only problem is that this interaction takes place at almost the halfway mark. And when they do interact, we only get about ten minutes of action between the two races in total.
Overall, Alien V.S. Predator is a surprisingly dull film. With a weak plot, bad editing and its derivative nature, the film never becomes anything special. Both franchises have better movies than this one, and better Antarctic horror films exist along with At the Mountains of Madness which the film borrows from. Despite the film’s many weaknesses, there are some silver linings in its second half that actually make it a somewhat fun ride. Alien vs. Predator will certainly give you what you want, but that’s not a bad thing.
Co-Written By: Owen Gonzalez