AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004)
Director Paul W.S. Anderson is a hack. Through the numerous films that he has directed, which include such drudgery as Soldier and Resident Evil, he has proven time and again that listening to an elderly relative blather on about… well, really almost anything, would be a far more entertaining way to spend ninety minutes than trapped in a theater with one of his boring, big-budget piles of cinematic refuse. Alien vs. Predator is no different. I hope Hollywood bucks up and admits that Anderson-helmed projects are always, without doubt, complete disasters. If he were employed in any other industry, his undeniably low level of craftsmanship would have found him living in a cardboard box at the curb of Paris Hilton's driveway years ago.
AVP - the "official" shortening of the title as per Fox's designation - struggles to bring together two of the studio's most profitable and, up until this drastically new low point, entertaining franchises. The plot, about a team of scientists that travel to a recently discovered ancient pyramid in Antarctica, is a lame attempt by Anderson, who I'm pretty sure used construction paper and crayons to pen the film, to create an original playground for the fight between the film's two slimy beasts. What he does manage to accomplish with the storyline is to rip off not one or two classic science fiction films, but the entire canon.
Let's examine the film's Antarctic whaling station. It's an idea lifted directly from Howard Hawks' The Thing (1951), a film that greatly influenced the original Alien's outer space outpost setting. So, in one swift move, Anderson has stolen (I'm sorry, created an homage of) ideas from not one, but two great films. This wouldn't be so traumatic if it was done in a new and interesting way, but there is nothing new or interesting about Alien vs. Predator.
And what about the group of "eclectic" scientists that travel to the station? There isn't a single actual character among them. They are all piecemeal constructions that insult their inspirations. The female lead is an obvious and badly written hodgepodge of both Ripley and Vasquez from Aliens and the others aren't even worth mentioning.
So, let's get to what you will pay your money to see: the action. Oh, wait a minute, this movie is supposed to have action in it? Whoops, Anderson seems to have forgotten about that little factoid. Between creating the lame, stereotyped characters and stealing the most inane of ideas from great movies, Anderson seems to have misplaced the notion that this movie is supposed to be about two stalwart, horrifying, ancient creatures fighting to the death. When there is action - and there is precious little of it - the editing is so disjointed and the lighting so dim that there isn't a single human being on the planet who could possibly make out what is taking place onscreen. Besides, the best battle between the two monsters ends twenty minutes into the film. What follows - and I can only assume it is meant to be suspenseful - is a lot of expository nonsense and trite dialogue between people we couldn't give two fanged fingers about. By the time the (insert Hollywood trademark here) "Big Fight" sequence occurs, I was so uninvolved in the film that I could barely let out a disgusted chuckle at the unintentionally funny Jurassic Park / E.T. hybrid of a grand finale. Fans on both sides of the fence will wish that an Alien fetus would rip through their chest during the screening, ending their crushing disappointment.
I guess all of the individuals involved in the making of Alien vs. Predator have Jean-Pierre Jeunet to thank. He directed Alien: Resurrection and lowered Alien fan expectation to such a point that almost any film would almost have to be better. Amazingly, this one isn't. Predator fans have waited fourteen years to see their antihero on screen again, so maybe Anderson thought they'd gobble up whatever regurgitation that he could feed them. But the truth is that Alien vs. Predator is much, much worse than anything either franchise fan has had to contend with up until this point. It's completely illogical, poorly acted, and - in the best possible scenario - boring. One can't help but hope that a frozen wasteland exists somewhere out there for filmmakers like Paul W.S. Anderson.