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Monday, August 16, 2010

Aliens Vs Predator: Requeim (2007) Unrated Extended edition review

Overall verdict: 5/10

The Good: numerous references to the past Alien and Predator films, a return to the R Rated level of violence, roaring musical score,

The Bad: overall "cheap" B movie feel, overly dark cinematography, cliche filled story, shallow characters

Current Availability Status: on discount priced code 3 DVD in Singapore

DVD Features:
Disc 1
- Directors commentary by the Strauss Brothers
- Commentary by special effects crew on the more technical aspects of the film
- Trailers

Disc 2
- Behind-the-Scenes Featurettes
· Prepare for War: The Making of AVP-R
· Fight to the Finish: The Making of AVP-R
· AVP-R: The Nightmare Returns – Creating the Aliens
· Crossbreed: The PredAlien
· Building the Predator Homeworld
- Design art gallery
- Picture reference guide to the Aliens and Predators species

DVD Value for money grade: B+
Despite negative fan reaction and harsh reviews, 2004's Alien Vs Predator went on to turn a profit. As usual, with any profit comes the production studio's desire for a sequel. Another promise made by the producers was that this sequel th PG rated "Alien Vs Predator" film would return to the R Rated violence of the original Alien and Predator movies. That promise was delivered wholeheartedly, but the bland story, flat characters and initial gaping plot holes, all flaws of the first AVP film, still remained. The "extended combat" edition reviewed here corrects some of those plot holes and adds more violence, but does little to improve the overall story.

Set immediately after AVP, the body of the dead Predator has been recovered by his brethren. But unknown to them, he had been infected by an alien facehugger during the events of the first film. Before long, a baby alien/predator hybrid explodes out of the dead one's chest and stows away aboard a scout ship that detached from the main mothership. The hybrid makes short work of the crew and causes the craft to crash land back on earth, this time in Gunnison county, Colorado. Despite this, the hybrid survived and released the other aliens contained in stasis. In a last ditch effort, a automated distress signal is sent back to a certain Predator warrior on the Predators' home-world. This warrior, who is supposedly a battle hardened veteran and an expert in dealing with Alien breakouts, proceeds to earth where the Aliens are slowly encroaching upon a small unsuspecting town.

While the Alien films took place in a future of space travel and the Predator films brought the viewers to exotic jungle locales, urban or otherwise Alien Vs Predator: Requiem "(AVPR) takes place in a "isolated small town" setting that is so common in Sci/Fi horror B movies. Populating said town are characters who are either there just to be killed off or are, again, homages to past films: the main character of Dallas Howard is a reference to Dallas in the first Alien film and "military mom" Kelly O'Brien is almost a clone of Sigourney Weaver's Ellen Ripley. There is some attempt at developing the characters such as the mother/daughter relationship between Kelly and her estranged daughter whom she hardly spent time with in the past, but that is never the main focus. In fact, delivering the violence and the numerous fan-friendly references seem to be all that this film sets out to do.

In that respect, AVPR does not disappoint addicts of R rated horror films. Heads are blown open, guts are spilled, someone is even slowly melted by acid while he is still alive and screaming as his eyeballs leak out of their sockets. Though the film was censored somewhat for its theatrical run, all the cut scenes of violence have been restored for the "extended combat edition" DVD release. No Man, woman, child or baby is safe. Predator fans who were let down by having their favorite monsters offed within 10 minutes in the first AVP can rest easy in the knowledge that this new Predator is no pushover. Packing a mean arsenal that includes double plasma launchers, laser mines and a razor whip, this Predator, nicknamed "Wolf", tears through alien xenomorphs like they were harmless puppies. His most challenging foe though is the "PredAlien" hybrid that possess all the genetic traits of the aliens plus the brute strength and hunting instinct of the Predators.

This theme of hybridisation is carried in every aspect of the movie but is most evident in the rousing music score by Brian Tyler. The young composer masterfully blends the fast paced wind orchestra style of the Aliens franchise music with the heavy militaristic percussion sounds of the Predator franchise. The result is an epic soundtrack that pays homage but never copies its predecessors, one that is fit for a modern film masterpiece.

Sadly, AVPR is anything but a masterpiece. Colin and Greg Strauss, both self-proclaimed fans of James Cameron's "Aliens" and John McTiernan's "Predator" make their directorial here. They too desire to carry on the theme of "hybridization" and their love for the two monster franchises shows in the way everything from the characters to the sound effects and the filming style all pay homage to the original films in the franchises. There are even entire scenes lifted wholesale from the past movies: for example the National Guard getting taken out by the Alien swarm is reminiscent of the same slaughter involving the space Marines in 1986's "Aliens". This is evidence of either a near obsessive desire to "remain true to the original" or of a genuine lack of experience in the directors to craft their own film. Instead of taking the best elements of each franchise and combining them, they chose to copy and paste wholesale.

At times however, the Strauss brothers' strict adherence to their favorite films and attempts at hybridization is their stumbling block. For example, in the Alien and Predator films, quick cuts and extreme close-ups are used to create a sense of tension and frantic action. The creatures were kept in the darkness in order to maintain an air of mystery and fear; you can hear the screams, you can see snippets of silhouettes, but never the whole creature or what the creatures are doing and how they are killing their prey. Those quick cuts, close-ups and lack of lighting are all present in this film, except that people come to watch something titled "Aliens Vs Predator" to see exactly that; aliens and predator mashing it up with each other, which is almost impossible without manually tweaking the television's brightness.

On a whole, the lack of lighting never allows the full glory of the creature effects or the "full gory" of the violence to shine. Calling the film "unoriginal" is an understatement. The way it "references" the past films could be considered mild plagiarism and whatever original aspects of the show are merely B movie staples complete with a cheesy teenage romance scene. While it might thrill the fans to be able to slowly pick out the various references to past films, it makes Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem little more than pastiche of scenes from great movies past set to a familiar "B movie" feel and thus never developing its own identity.

For the review of AVP, the film that precedes this movie, click here

*****************************Review End******************

Go For it: if you didn't mind the flaws of the first AVP film but would like to see something darker, gorier and more violent. Also if you are the kind that loves trying to pick apart movies and point out the various references to previous film works in the narrative.
Avoid it: if you expect a masterpiece the likes of the original films by Ridley Scott or James Cameron that inspired this crossover.

Entertainment: B
Story: B-
Acting: C+
Characters: C+
Replay value: B
"Brains": D+

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