After they discover a mysterious pyramid buried under the ice in Antarctica, Weyland Industries goons go around the world to recruit adventurers and experts, “Giant-Size X-Men #1”-style. Amongst the lot is Italian archeologist Sebastian de Rosa (Raoul Bova), Scottish scientist Graeme Miller (Ewen Bremner) and African-American environmentalist and ice-climber Alexa Woods (Sanaa Lathan). When they get to the South Pole, they realize that someone’s already dug down to the pyramid. Of course they go in anyway and make nothing of walking through “sacrificial chambers” and playing around with mysterious weapons, until walls start closing in around them and they realize that they fell into a trap.
As the title suggests, the humans find themselves in the middle of a war between the iconic extra-terrestrial species first introduced in Ridley Scott’s “Alien” and John McTiernan’s Predator. The movie struggles hard to justify bringing the two sets of movie monsters together, but the mythology it comes up with raises more questions than it answers. From what I understand, the Predators first came to Earth thousands of years ago and showed early humans how to build pyramids. Then every 100 years, the Predators have been coming back to game hunt the “ultimate prey”, Aliens. They got an Alien queen hibernating at the bottom of the pyramid, but they need humans to sacrifice themselves to serve as breeding pods.
This makes precious little sense to me, but that wouldn’t be too bothersome if the promised Alien Vs. Predator match-up delivered the thrills. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. Thank writer-director Paul W.S. Anderson for that. He’s made a specialty for himself of taking potentially cool concepts and turning them into tepid B-movies. I still don’t understand how he managed to make a flick about a cyborg commando badass Kurt Russell into something as wussy and boring as Soldier, and his latest is as puzzling a failure. No one expects Anderson to outdo James Cameron’s Aliens, but “Alien Vs. Predator” is even more boring and pointless than “Alien³”, for Christ’s sake!
Oh, it’s technically well made, in a generic kind of way. The pyramid set is atmospheric enough and the creature effects look sharp, but what good is that when you can barely see any of it in the midst of all the distracting camera-shaking and quick-cutting? Even worse is the incomprehensible decision to tone down the action to a more commercial PG-13. That means no skinned corpses, no exploding space-bullet wounds and only brief glimpses of chest-bursting and killer Alien tongues.
The humans are all interchangeable, with the only vaguely entertaining character (a British black heavy played by Colin Salmon) getting killed before he gets to put his foot anywhere near a monster’s ass. Lance Henriksen shows up in a few scenes as billionaire Weyland, but the only interesting thing about his presence is to speculate about how Weyland Industries would go on to use his likeness to build robots like the one Henriksen plays in “Aliens” and “Alien³”. Sanaa Lathan gets the most screen time, but she doesn’t make much of an impression beyond the ridiculous scenes in which she develops a special bond with a Predator (no interspecies mating, alas) and her pathetic attempt at stealing Schwarzenegger’s classic one-liner “You’re one ugly mother-PG13-Friendly-Loud-Noise!”
“Alien vs. Predator” is mediocrity incarnate. It’s not even bad enough to make fun of, it’s just uninspired, dull and utterly forgettable.