Film (2004). Twentieth Century Fox presents a Davis Entertainment Company/Brandywine production. Directed by Paul W S Anderson, starring Sanaa Lathan, Raoul Bova, Lance Henriksen, Ewen Bremner. Screenplay by Anderson, from a screen story by Anderson, Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett, based on the Alien (1979) characters created by O'Bannon and Shusett and the Predator (1987) characters created by Jim Thomas and John Thomas. 101 minutes. Collector's Edition, 108 minutes. Colour.
From 1989 to 1990, a four-issue Comics mini-series entitled Aliens vs. Predator was published by Dark Horse Comics, and after the series ended Predator 2 (1990) featured a familiar elongated alien skull in a predator's trophy display. Since then, the two species have fought in numerous novels, computer Games (> Aliens Versus Predator) and Comics; other characters such as Batman, Judge Dredd and the eponym of The Terminator  have been known to join the melee in the comics. A Cinema adaptation was probably inevitable, although by 2004 neither film franchise was at the cutting edge of popular culture. While all six prior Alien and Predator movies were graphically violent, AVP is much tamer, no doubt to attract the lucrative teenage market. A Collector's Edition DVD was released in 2005 with some of the more visceral footage restored, though it does little to change the thrust of the narrative.
In the present day, a satellite owned by the Weyland Corporation (presumably the forerunner of the immoral Weyland-Yutani company that lurks in the background of the Alien movies) detects a heat signature from a pyramid buried beneath Antarctica. A team of specialists is quickly gathered to investigate, and within the structure they find hieroglyphs that reveal the truth behind human civilization. Apparently up to the fifteenth century, the sport-hunting "predator" species have been guiding certain human civilizations towards building pyramids to house lethal, slimy "aliens" that the predators have captured. Every one hundred years, young predators arrive from space to hunt the aliens at these pyramids as a rite of passage. Caught between these two Aliens, the human team at the Antarctic pyramid is rapidly whittled down until only one woman (Lathan) remains. She forms an alliance with the last surviving predator and the pair destroy the pyramid and its monstrous inhabitants before the predator succumbs to his wounds.
AVP does contain fleeting moments of enjoyable action, but it is the worst film either franchise has produced and it is immeasurably inferior to the first two Alien films. The script borders on nonsensical and takes some liberties with the established canonical facts of both franchises. Furthermore, the terrestrial setting makes a mockery of the ever present threat of the "aliens" one day reaching Earth. Apparently, they've been here all along. [JN]
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