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|AVP: Alien vs. Predator
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E
dir-scr Paul WS Anderson
with Sanaa Lathan, Lance Henriksen, Raoul Bova, Ewen Bremner, Colin Salmon, Tommy Flanagan, Joseph Rye, Agathe De La Boulaye, Carsten Norgaard, Sam Troughton, Petr Jakl, Pavel Bezdek
release US 13.Aug.04, UK 22.Oct.04
04/US Fox 1h41
Just before the face-clamping bit: A random team member...
Writer-director Anderson (who also herds the Resident Evil franchise) has such a terrible sense of horror that I despair watching his films. He seems to think that shrieking chords of music are all you need to scare an audience. Sure they make us jump, but that's not the same thing as being scared! So I was pleasantly surprised when after a garbled and, yes, jumpy opening this settled into a rather enjoyable action movie.
There's something under the ice in Antarctica and zillionaire Charles Weyland (Henriksen) wants to get there first for some reason. So he assembles a crack team of explorers, archaeologists and drillers. But it's strangely easy to reach this mysterious underground pyramid, which starts behaving strangely once they get there, especially when strange creatures pop out of strangely shifting doorways and start battling with each other. They are of course the nasty beasts from the Alien and Predator movies. Fortunately there are hieroglyphics on the walls that tell our intrepid (and doomed) team what's happening.
Yes the story is fairly ridiculous, and it doesn't really have anything to do with the four Aliens and two Predators. Basically it's just an excuse to get lots of people into a confined and confusing space so they can be picked off one by one. The main problem is that the first half of the film is incoherent drivel--the plot is just too sketchy and the suspense is limited to red herrings and Anderson Shrieks™. Then when those hieroglyphics finally explain everything (in astonishing detail), the film actually gets rather interesting.
It also helps that there are several superb actors in the cast, not the least of which is Lathan, who from the very beginning emerges as the hero of the piece. Her character is by far the most interesting, and where she goes is pretty cool too. We also have Bova's adept brainy beefcake, Bremner's adept brainy nerd, Salmon's tough guy sidekick, Flanagan's impatient thug, and so on, just to add some interest. And it's nice, in the end, to actually find ourselves cheering for someone.
|james bilings, spain: "what can i say other than this guy anderson has done it again, only just a little teenie weenie bit better than his other movies. avp does the dirty on us! close-up after action shot close-up, you cant see any grace, just clodhoppin segments of action. the final chase is all over the show as well. the story aint too bad, but honestly the pay off, the actors, the whole franchise thing really hurts in a big way! no tension - did i mention that? no blood, no good! come on ridley, jim cameron, let's bring back the monster we all love with a bang!" (17.Nov.04)