[Spoilers shall abound like face-huggers hopped up on Red Bull. You have been warned.]
Many a fan-person did bespeak a thousand gripes with the first installment of Alien vs. Predator, largely because, well, it was awful. Even when it occasionally rose to the level of High Cheese it was at best a goofy little flick — and really, that’s not what fans of either the Alien or Predator franchise ordered. It ought to have been, “Hay, you got your chocolate in my peanut butter!” “Hay, you got your peanut butter in my chocolate!”, blending into something righteously violent, gory, twisted, terrifying, and huge. “Goofy” shouldn’t factor anywhere into this equation.
Enter the producers for Requiem. Fan People, were they all — and they vowed to redeem the honor of the franchise. Their efforts were not altogether in vain.
AVP:R picks up where AvP leaves off, but for the sake of everyone’s sanity it doesn’t languish there long. Brand new baby Pred-Alien pops out of the predator’s chest and havoc is wreaked, the ship is crashed and trashed, and a distress signal is fired off to the home planet.
Back in the Tribeworlds one lone bureaucrat Yautja is sitting in his cubicle. He notes the distress signal, grabs a helmet, and hops alone into a space ship in order to seek out the trouble.
Mind you, this predator has duly noted that (a). the crashed vehicle was toting a cargo of alien face-huggers and (b). there now appears to be a hybrid predator/alien creature running amok, to boot. Yet for some reason, Cubicle Predator opts to go it alone. Perhaps he’s gone to management one time too many, and been told that the funding just isn’t there — so he’ll have to handle the crisis himself, on a budget, but he can file an expense report later if he saves all his receipts.
Anyway. On Earth, the poop has met the fan with gusto.
First rule of AVP:R — don’t get too attached to anyone, but don’t worry, the writers have made it easy by filling up Doomed Town with jerks. Right out of the gate, my fellow theater-goers and I were marking the townspeople for death. Almost everyone is either an asshole teenager, a meathead, or a moron. From the very start I said to myself, “Self, if this town were to get wiped off the map by a military containment strike, frankly, I don’t think that would be the worst of all possible outcomes.” And don’t you worry. It’ll come to that.
It’s almost a shame. If the townspeople hadn’t been such dickweeds, I might’ve given them heartier odds for survival. After all, this is rural Colorado and everybody and his brother has a gun; and besides, it’s huntin’ season and the town has at least as many sporting goods stores* as pizza parlors. At first I thought maybe the town would rally a bit, a la the unapologetically hokey and marvelous Slither. But no. That which follows amounts to about a full hour of aliens and their face-hugging larvae chewing through the populace with merry holiday glee.
And if you think there’s someplace this movie won’t go, you’re grossly mistaken. In proper apocalyptic horror fashion, no one and nothing is spared. That cute little boy in the opening sequence? FACE HUGGIE INCUBATOR. Sick old people and homeless dogs? NOSHED UPON. Pregnant waitress? EVISCERATED. A room full of babies in a hospital nursery? MAY AS WELL HAVE BEEN SERVING JALAPENO POPPERS.
Meanwhile, of course, the Cubicle Predator is meeting limited success. By the time he’s killed off the first round of aliens, he’s badly wounded, pretty pissed, losing his weaponry one piece at a time, and starting to look a little lost. But does he think of calling home? Asking for some back-up? Requesting an extra first-aid kit? Mais non. It was almost sad to watch. I mean, you’re rooting for him, sure; but in the back of your head you’re wondering why the Tribeworlds sent this B-team goober into this particular fray. Poor Cubicle Predator. He should’ve at least had a partner, bless his heart.
But he doesn’t. And the task is entirely too huge for one lone paper-pushing dread-head, so by the time the U.S. military has given the go-ahead to blow the town off the map, it’s just as well. Everyone with whom you-as-viewer were even remotely sympathetic has made it out of town in the hospital’s emergency helicopter, and besides, the dialogue is so bone-jarringly awful that I, for one, was getting tired of listening to it. It really chapped my hide to think that some screenwriter somewhere got paid cash dollars American to compose such feats of verbal pyrotechnics as, “People are dying!”**
But tooth-meltingly terrible dialogue aside, AVP:R was a very good example of a movie that is exactly what it’s supposed to be. It pulled no punches, didn’t get too deep, blew up a bunch of shit, and pushed the limits of how gruesome and arbitrary a blanket threat might reasonably go. All in all, I accept this film as an apology for the previous installment, and I can recommend it as a jaunty, squishy antidote for the same.
I give it six tentacles out of eight. Two got knocked off because, seriously.
The dialogue. Nobody freakin’ talks like that.
* For the benefit of my international readers: that’s an American euphemism for “A store lined with hunting rifles and stocked to the ceiling with ammunition, just in case those deer are wearing flak jackets and toting grenades.”
** To which my darling husband shouted, “Orcs!”