The very thought of spending words on this movie makes my insides cry with sadness. I've certainly seen worse movies, but none of them ever turned two great franchise movie series into one mediocre joke. The laughable titles of "Writer" and "Director" awarded to Paul W. S. Anderson should be taken as tongue-in-cheek mockery of a man whose sole talent seems to be writing unremarkable stories with even more unremarkable characters. AvP excels at placing a group of disparate ethnics into a really ridiculous situation whilst throwing moody lighting and scary/funny jump scenes in at appropriate times.

About the only thing that AvP has going for it is its badass creature effects, over 70% of which are physical special effects. In the age of CG cars, creatures, and people, it's refreshing to see monsters that actually look like they're being held up by wires. Not that the effects are cheesy--they're actually quite well done, and Anderson is at least perceptive enough to know when a physical presence is needed.

The thin plot goes like this. A giant pyramid has been detected 2,000 feet below the Antarctic ice by a satellite owned by a technology magnate named Weyland (played with gravitas by a pneumatic Lance Henriksen). He wants to be the first to explore it, make his name remembered after he dies. So of course he hires Team Diversity, aka The No Name Actors Association Dream Team, which Anderson must have purchased from a midnight sale on all the bargain bin prep school ethnic acting types. I suppose I shouldn't criticize them--they're young and needed the money, and they do the best they can with a script that offers us such gems as "The enemy of my enemy is my friend", a statement so simplistic it might have been culled from the library archives of Reagan-era foreign policy. Even Michael Moore does a better job of constructing a story.

Sorry, I'm getting carried away here.

So Weyland and company arrive at the underground pyramid, but quickly learn that the entire structure is a computerized Rubick's Cube that's designed to provide the Predators an arena to hunt the aliens, which are bred in a crypto-cryogenic Queen room. Of course, the humans provide bait and incubation for the aliens, but Anderson only provides one good scene of chest-popping fun, nowhere near as dramatic or scary as Ridley Scott's original.{googleAds}

It's all fun and games until someone pokes their eye out, as they say. The Predators soon find themselves outnumbered and outfoxed by the aliens who quickly convert the pyramid into their own McAlien Playplace, replete with sticky goo, Geiger-esque halls lined with the living hosts of the rapidly dispatched exploration team, and of course, lots and lots of eggs. After the leader of the team (Sanaa Lathan) kills one of the aliens, remarkably acid-free, the Predator acknowledges her kill and brands her a warrior, and they team up to blow the alien nest to kingdom come, or at least the sequel. Anderson climaxes with a final battle between the Queen alien, the Predator, and the human, leaving no doubt as to which race is best able to pull victory from the jaws of defeat. Go humans!

Apart from the razor thin plot, AvP suffers from excessively shallow characters who are dumb and arrogant, with no complexities or nuance. Sadly, Anderson refuses to use this trait to his advantage. Instead of lacing the entire movie with pointless, yet entertaining action sequences, he spends the first forty minutes attempting to inject some kind of meaning into the anorexic plot; unlike Scott's Alien, there is no sense of brooding menace, no dark thematic touches, no undertones of suspicion or fear. Thus we are treated like fifth grade literature students, giving us the barest semblance of the five part structure of a story, yet without feeling or care. The action is sparse but exciting, and the music is effective, giving a much needed boost to some of the otherwise interminable beginning sequences.

The poster proclaiming the demise of the human race ("Whoever wins...We lose") is nearly accurate. Replace the word "Whoever" with "Paul W. S. Anderson". That's definitely a franchise we can do without.


DVD Details:

Screen formats: Widescreen 2.35:1

Subtitles: English; Spanish; Closed Captioned

Language and Sound: English: DTS 5.1 Surround; French: DTS 5.1 Surround; Spanish: DTS 5.1 Surround

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; deleted scenes; making-of featurette; director's commentary; cast and crew information.

* Commentaries:
o With director Paul WS Anderson and actors Lance Henriksen and Sanaa Lathan.
o With creature make-up/effects artists Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff, along with visual effects supervisor Tom Bruno.
* Featurette:
o Alternate Opening
AVP Making of Featurette
* Deleted Scenes:
o The Other Mexico (:41)
o O Sole Mio (:28)
o Predator Humor (:32)
* Documentaries:
o Intro Animation (:12)
o Mr. and Mrs. Smith (3:00)
o Elektra (4:00)
* Photo Stills
o Darkhorse AVP Comic Covers Galley (65 stills):
* DVD-Rom Features:
o Darkhorse's first edition of the AVP comic book,
o Exclusive look at the first 16 pages of the up-coming AVP graphic novel.

Number of discs: 1

Packaging: Region 1 Keepcase