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A SIERRA NEVADA
(MICHAEL MADSEN & JOHN SAVAGE).
When you've been reviewing movies for a while you learn a few things. You learn not to bring your cell phone to press screenings because they'll confiscate it so you don't secretly film the film and spread it around the internet (which seemed silly until I bought a Treo 600 and realized I could do just that). You also learn that when a movie either doesn't have press screenings or has them the day before the film opens, that's a bad sign. It means the studio thinks the film is bad and doesn't want any advance reviews to kill the weekend box office. So when I got invited to a screening the day before Alien vs. Predator opened, I was nervous.
ALIEN VS PREDATOR (henceforth known as AVP) was written and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson (EVENT HORIZON, RESIDENT EVIL [all]). Rumor has it that Anderson stepped down from directing the sequels to MORTAL COMBAT and RESIDENT EVIL just so he could do AVP, a movie he's wanted to do for many years.
The story opens with a Weyland Industries satellite in orbit (Weyland Industries, of course, is destined to become the Weyland-Yutani Corporation, better known as "the Company" in all the ALIEN movies). The satellite reports an odd heat signature near Antarctica.
Very quickly we see a team being gathered by Weyland Industries representative Maxwell Stafford (Colin Salmon: TOMORROW NEVER DIES, THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH, RESIDENT EVIL, DIE ANOTHER DAY). The team includes rock climber and environmentalist Alexa Woods (Sanaa Lathan: BLADE) and archeologist Sebastian de Rosa (Raoul Bova), among others.
All are brought to a Weyland Industries ice-cutter on its way to an island near Antarctica. Here the group is briefed by Charles Bishop Weyland (Lance Henrickson: TERMINATOR, NEAR DARK, ALIENS, ALIEN 3). The satellite photos show (in infrared) a huge pyramid buried beneath 2000 feet of glacier. Why the pyramid has suddenly become hot is unknown but Weyland is convinced this is a critically important discovery and he wants to be the first one there.
All this happens very fast. We just get a quick intro to the characters and a minimal amount of exposition before the group arrives at the island and sets up their equipment in an abandoned whaling station (mysteriously abandoned a century ago). Their plan was to drill a tunnel down to the pyramid but that turns out not to be necessary. Something has blasted a perfect tunnel already - a tunnel that wasn't on the satellite photos as recently as a day ago.
The movie doesn't leave us in suspense about what's going to happen. We see the Predator ship approaching Earth and dropping off a few passengers and we also see a certain vat deep inside the pyramid being warmed up. Three species are about to collide.
Yes, I know. You knew that from the trailer and what you really want to know is: Did I like AVP? No, I didn't like it. I LOVED it! AVP delivers! Very fast pace, gets to the good stuff quick and hell, yes, the creatures rock! The audience was gasping and hooting during several of the action sequences. The title is not misleading because more than once the Aliens and the Predators get it on, hand to claw.
Sure, there are some minor flaws, like the ease with which the archeologists read the hieroglyphs and discover a whole lot of details about the situation. And one flaw will actually require a
Back to the good stuff. I liked the fact that Anderson didn't add anything new
to the Alien life-cycle (certainly a temptation).
He just showed us the creatures we know and fear in action, and plenty
of it. AVP gets four shriek girls.