Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Aliens vs Predator: Requiem - Review by Robert Duffin

Director: The Strauss Brothers
Screenwriter: Shane Salerno
Running Time: 86 mins
Certificate: 18
Released: Jan 18th

Ricky (Johnny Lewis, The OC) is just your typical small town teen boy. He’s delivering pizza for a living and really hates wearing the crass baseball cap, and on top of that he has a thing for the local bimbo Jesse (Kristen Hager) and when delivering her a pizza gets beaten up and has his car keys thrown down into the sewer. Sucks to be Ricky, but it also sucks to be Kelly (Reiko Aylesworth). She’s just back from a tour of Iraq to find her young daughter (Ariel Gade) emotionally distant and frightened of her. Last but not least there’s Ricky’s brother Dallas (Steven Pasquale) who is back in town after some time behind bars. His brother isn’t interested and Sheriff Morales (John Ortiz) is on his back about cleaning up his act. It’s all just your average weekend in Gunnison, Colorado.

I know you think I went to the wrong screening, and I wish I could say you were right, but it’s right about now in this teen drama that HR Geiger’s beasties turn up.

It’s curious that the classic sci-fi Alien (1979) and the pulpy blood bath Predator (1987) were ever paired together, but that’s popular culture for you. Thanks to a series of novels, comic books and video games, a cinematic show down was inevitable and after the success of the anaemic AvsP (2004) we find ourselves at the sequel and the inevitable arrival of the monsters on our own planet. Outside of the ‘human drama’ we have a solitary Predator (a kind of intergalactic version of Harvey Keitel’s Mr Wolf) cleaning up the mess following a Predator ship crash landing on Earth after a hybrid monster, the ‘Predalien’- sigh - causes havoc.

Shane Salerno’s script is the main problem here. It relies too heavily on in jokes from the previous instalments and at the same time as courting the fan boys, spits in their faces with blatant disregard for the established canon. The Alien’s notorious acid blood appears at the very beginning to take of one guy’s arm, but whenever the substance touches the core characters it has no effect. Hmm. Similarly the Aliens well documented beehive like breeding system is maintained then shelved for the climax, obviously Salerno realised only three nasties was a bit lame. The dialogue is similarly troubling, including the eye rolling deadpan of “the government doesn’t lie” as the survivor’s debate whether to trust the military.

Admirably the Brothers have attempted to return the franchise to its bloody roots after the last 12A rated chapter, but they take too many steps towards putrid gratuity for my liking. Two pregnant women have their baby bumps eviscerated and we thankfully cut away as the dribbling Alien turns its attention to twenty crying babies in their incubators. Despicable imaginations aside, the special effects artists turned directing team swathe the film in murky lighting and heavy rain which is devoid of atmosphere and suspense, instead resulting in difficult to follow action. Given the maternity massacre, I don’t know how bad a decision that was.

Oh how the mighty have fallen, and although the execs no doubt just flicked open a dictionary for the subtitle, we do truly find ourselves at a requiem. Two formerly mighty warriors reduced to a skirmish in some backwater town, and with the finale promising more to come, when will they realise it’s time to light the pyre and consign this franchise to development hell. “Game over man, game over.”

All we are saying, is give piece a chance...

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