Alien vs. Predator (2004)

On one hand, the premise of this film seems reasonable and intuitive enough – two iconic alien villains fighting each other. But it’s not just that the tones of the respective creature’s series are so different, it’s that they don’t even really have that much of a set tone, since Predator consisted of two quite different films at the time, and Alien of four very different films. The monsters are the throughline, but can senseless violence between them sustain a whole movie? Not really, but director Paul W. S. Anderson attempts a few things to make the movie work beyond that. They generally don’t work very well, but he does try.

Lance Henriksen playing Weyland is a real head-scratcher that the movie itself doesn’t really delve into meaningfully. As fanservice it makes perfect sense to bring back an iconic actor from the Alien series, but in practise it ends up feeling more confusing than satisfying.

What’s not confusing is the presentation of the alien itself, which is so thoroughly demystified at this point that it feels legitimately dull at times. The Predator meanwhile works as well as it ever did I suppose, a shlocky B-movie type villain, but even just from the designs alone, the alien and the Predator seem to exist on such different planes of reality that their conflicts feel awkward and strange.

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Despite my general dissatisfaction with the film, I found myself somewhat won over by Sanaa Lathan’s character, the protagonist I suppose. I don’t know if she was deliberately underplaying the role or if she just genuinely lacks range, but the way she barely reacted to the absurdity of the film worked for me, a kind of rational “well I guess this is happening, better go with it” vibe contrasted with the tiresome stupidity of the characters in the Alien and Predator franchises.

The film makes some nods towards interesting science-fiction concepts with the Predators, but mostly just in one infodump sequence around the middle, rather than as a cornerstone of the film. This tries to unify the alien and Predator mythologies and does a decent enough job I suppose, but I just can’t shake feeling these franchises aren’t even self-assured enough to sustain themselves, let alone a crossover. I give the film two CGI aliens, and a pyramid.

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