Starring: Steven Pasquale, Reiko Aylesworth, John Ortiz, Johnny Lewis, Ariel Gade, Kristen Hager, and Robert Joy.
In my review of the first Alien vs Predator film, I aimed my pulse rifle at (among other things) the studio’s decision to make a film containing Aliens and Predators that was rated PG-13. I feel I should back up that feeling with a series of statements: I am not saying that I wanted a blood and guts filled vision. What I was trying to ask for was an element of danger that everything associated with the two franchises was going to happen.
Some methods of murder the Predator and Alien xenomorphs do include: skinning and hanging their victims, having their acid-laced blood land on the body, impregnating people by wrapping around their throat, and bursting through peoples’ chests. These are all components of danger that a PG-13 rating, right off the bat, tells me will not happen. It’s not the satisfaction of seeing violence onscreen that makes me crave an R rating. It’s the instability that comes with it.
With all this in mind, I sat down to watch the R rated Aliens vs Predator: Requiem. The danger was there. The violence was there. Problem was, all the tension that came with the best moments from both franchises was completely dissipated. Requiem’s filmmakers wanted so bad for people who hated the PG-13 rated previous film to walk out of the theater after their movie and say, ‘see, that’s what I wanted.’ But what they ended up hearing were mostly groans at the completely trite writing on display that Requiem ended up being.
Now it isn’t a secret around the Adventure Amigos offices that I am a huge fan of horror films. So you would think that cardboard characters who are introduced for the sole reason of being future prey would go right over my head, and I would allow myself to enjoy the film for what it is. But a pizza boy delivering a pizza to his number one crush who has a boyfriend is extremely clichéd. And with the possible exception of Alien Resurrection, there has never been a film from both franchises with characters that were as poorly written as they were here. By setting people up in slasher movie form, it downplays what was established in the films prior. It ends up looking like a horror script that was laying on the floor of New Line Cinema and Fox somehow got a hold of, interjecting their Aliens and Predators in the process. Which is shocking considering this movie’s script was written by Shane Salerno, who has been connected to screenplays directed by Martin Scorcese and Oliver Stone.
But screw the people in the film. What about the actions of the principles involved in the title? Well, I will say this: I enjoy the prospect of bringing both species on Earth in order for them to fight it out. I think there are a myriad of possibilities of what to do with that scenario. But having them wage their war in a small Colorado town, the Predator and Predalien finally duke it out in a hard to see battle after a huge buildup, and then end up fighting it out all the way to an ending that renders everything prior completely counterproductive, was NOT the way to go.
Believe it or not, there are certain things I do enjoy about Requiem. I liked how a pair of night vision goggles figure into the story. Also, after the opening credits, directors Colin and Greg Strauss (Skyline) gives us our only remembrance of the pitiful prior movie by re-showing the birth of the Predalien. It was actually a nice reminder of what we have in store, and I would be lying if I didn’t say I was looking forward to what they would do with it. But the Strauss boys completely drop the ball, directing a poorly lit movie that mostly takes place at night and in the rain. On the surface, I can see what they were doing. I think the complaint that Requiem is almost impossible to see doesn’t hold much water. But one thing filming it like this does do is make the movie look cheap. With scenes containing horrible character developing moments like a man exiting jail and entering a cop’s car, who we have no idea why he went in to begin with, just didn’t give me hope that these guys could direct with any amount of sharpness.
Notice I didn’t mention the xenomorphs. Reason being what they did with those creatures in Requiem was completely unforgivable. In no instance, within any phase of the Alien films, was there ANY indication that they wanted pregnant women to inject their eggs in. But the scene at a hospital involving the Predalien injecting not one, but MANY eggs down a pregnant lady’s throat was extensively contemptible. It was an obvious prefiguration that neither Salerno or the Strauss boys had any idea about what made the Aliens such an elegant force. They went for a horrible, laced with bile cardboard cutout indication of danger. As bad of a beating that the Predators’ small amount of credibility they had left after that last film takes here, at least they had something I had never seen before, which was an admittedly cool device in their helmet that records what they see. The xenomorphs are rendered useless, and it is yet another example that no one involved in the movie knew what they had.
While Aliens vs Predators: Requiem is an authentically bad film, if I had to make a decision on which movie out of the two to watch, I would give Requiem a slight edge. Not just because the Predators have some new cool devices, but also due to my love for horror and this film’s slasher tendencies. But make no mistake about it. Aliens vs Predators: Requiem is a cheap, poorly written mess that belongs on the bottom of a dystopian-laden crumbling of buildings. If you are given a choice of which one to watch, do what Alien star Sigourney Weaver did when she was asked to star in this franchise: stay away. Far away.