Monday, December 31, 2007

Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem

You Look Like My Bro!

My very first encounter with Aliens Versus Predator, was actually a coin operated arcade game some more than 10 years back. For 20c for 3-5 chances (depending on how the owner configured the machine), you can choose between 2 Predator Warriors, or 2 humans, to go up against an Alien infested land, where you score points with multiple Alien kills, and get to use some of the cool weapons (always like those killer discs) and combo moves to finish off opponents. Needless to say, who would want to use the human characters, when you can play Predator?

The PC game then emerged, this time sticking closer to the "Versus" format, where you can pick to play either character from a first person perspective, and have at your disposal the multitude of weapons and moves, making it truly a gaming experience, if not for my crappy PC of the time not being able to support the gameplay in full.

These games actually came off the heels of the relatively successful movies, which are not works of art, but fairly decent action movies. In Predator, we have Arnold Schwarzeneggar and later Danny Glover in the sequel pitting their know how in rural and urban landscapes respectively, while in the Alien Quadrilogy, it made Sigourney Weaver arguably one of the pioneers and most well known female action hero with her Ripley, under the masterful direction of Ridley Scott, James Cameron, David Fincher and Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who also introduced Winona Ryder to the franchise.

And with the successful creation of these cult characters, they found longevity in the games mentioned, as well as various books and graphic novels, challenging other established heroes to duels, until someone thought it would be a great idea to pit these two foreign creatures against each other in a movie, already having their respective fan bases to support it. Hence the first Aliens Versus Predator movie was born some three years ago, which for a strange reason, I did and have not yet watched.

The sequel begins almost immediately where the first one left off, with an Alien ship having in its hold a dead Predator, who is suddenly found to be a carrier of the Alien larvae. Naturally this dude becomes the chief baddie with developing a hybrid Alien-Predator look, but sad to say, with none of their powers combined. Everyone on board gets pawned by the hybrid and the ship crash lands on Earth, thus beginning the second round. A new Predator watches the proceedings via Cable TV at his comfy sofa at home, and decides that he should preserve the honour and purity of his species, by going to Earth and killing off the bastard incarnation and its offspring, hence the hunter and the prey are set, whichever way you look at it.

So the trailers seem to suggest the human involvement this time round, but seriously, they are caricatures that need to make up the death toll. While the respective franchise movies have a very strong human element in them, this one only has humans as fuel for gore. Which brings to mind that Transformers had a strong human aspect to it, which was panned by purists who want more of the robots. Here, we get a lot of Alien and Predator action, so let's not start by clamouring for more human soul and character development. Heck, this movie doesn't even need a storyline, but requires just an excuse to have the two species share the same screen and whack the living daylights out of each other, with humans as collateral to spill red blood, rather than gooey muck, or green plasma.

It's basically one Predator pulling all the tricks in its book using weapons we're already so familiar with, it's like second nature guessing what this lone wolf will utilize next. The Aliens here pose little threat really, and look more like rehashing the mood it likes in cold, dark and dank sewers, before breaking out to the city and unleashing hell on earth. And in this movie, everyone is fair game because it's not Titanic as one character puts it, so women and children enjoy no sanctity. One complaint I have though of the blood bath, is that almost all the action take place at night, which of course makes it perfectly easy for the CG folks to cut corners if necessary, and marred by the many close-up shots that make you see nothing perfectly too.

As mentioned, don't go about looking for any semblance of a plot, which involves very clumsily, a mom returning from a theatre of war, some adolescent hormonal flings, an ex jailbird, and a town sheriff. Naturally they have watched either The Mist or 30 Days of Night, and with the ambiguous and strange serial killings in town, decide to hole up in a supermarket (again!) to stock supplies before venturing to safety. I vote the Supermarket as Cinematic Refuge for the Year 2007.

With the usual sarcastic take on the Government (not lying to its citizens, and the final army decision taken which looked like a cop out), Aliens Versus Predator: Requiem, which was supposed to be shown on Christmas day, is just another pop corn movie with two men in rubber suits ushering in 2008. Forget the story and characters, as we want to celebrate mindlessly and herald the new year with violence. Auld Lang Syne!

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