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Alien vs. Predator (2004)
Rated PG13

Starring: Sanaa Lathan, Raoul Bova, and Lance Henriksen

Rating:
*1/2
out of
*****

For most of the 1990s, there were persistant rumors that two of the coolest movie alien species, the Predators and the Aliens, would eventually meet in a movie that would have them face-off in a battle to the death. A comic book series was released. In 1992's Predator 2, a hint was dropped in the form of an Alien skull seen as a trophy. In 1994, a videogame called Alien vs. Predator was released for the Atari Jaguar game system. Subsequent games were released for different systems and the PC throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s. A movie never appeared until the summer of 2004.

For all of the anticipation and build-up, one has a right to expect a lot out of Alien vs. Predator. Unfortunately, with anticipation there is usually disappointment. And that's the best way to describe Alien vs. Predator: disappointing. It might not be strong enough, but it's certainly a fitting description. The main problem comes from the fact that the movie ignores any of the storylines put forth by the videogame and comic versions and creates a new story that complete ignores any of the timelines or backstory of the original Predator or Alien movies.

In this story, a satellite discovers a heat bloom beneath the Antarctic tundra in the shape of an ancient pyramid. An expedition is assembled by billionaire Charles Bishop Weyland (Lance Henriksen), co-founder of the Weyland Yutani Corporation, to find and explore the pyramid. The expedition finds the pyramid, but also finds itself in the middle of an ages-long battle between the Aliens and the more sophisticated Predators.

The plot is extremely simple and the action isn't very exciting. The production has a rushed feel to it and the battles between the Aliens and the Predators are underwhelming, to say the least. Both the Aliens and the Predators -- neither of which are referred to as such in the film -- both come off as low-budget copies of the original versions of each species. If it weren't for the presence of Lance Henriksen and Sanaa Lathan, the only known actors in the otherwise faceless cast, I'd have made a bet that this was a fan-made film rather than a Hollywood production. Then again, a fan film would actually have preserved some of the main backstories from each series and given more than a few seconds consideration to logic that is totally ignored in this movie.

For example, the Aliens in the original four Alien movies took days to evolve from the egg-laying facehugger to the full-grown hulking xenomorph. In Alien vs Predator, the entire process apparently takes about 10 minutes. The pyramid's existence is explained in a flashback with narration provided by Sebastian (Raoul Bova), who, in the space of about 30 seconds, translates and reads it from hieroglyphics the world has never seen before. Sebastian also decodes a combination lock on a sarcophagus simply by looking at it. I wouldn't mind completely suspending my disbelief if these and other plot conveniences paid off with a worthwhile climax. They don't.

Alien vs. Predator is proof that wishing for something long and hard enough doesn't mean it's worth it.

Trivia: The Morse code picked up by the satellite at the beginning of the film spells out the words, "Whoever wins, we lose". This is, of course, the tagline used to promote the film. (Source: The Internet Movie Database)

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