SPOILER ALERT !!
VERN VS. ALIEN VS. PREDATOR DASH REQUIEM
Aliens, predators, why do you always gotta fight? Why can’t you just resolve your differences? I know they say “whoever wins, we lose” but I’ve seen both the AvP movies and clearly nobody is winning anything. We lose, and you lose our respect.
RESURRECTION and RATATOUILLE were already taken and they needed something that started with an R, so the title of this thing is REQUIEM. That might make you wanna ask who died, but you already know the answer: the remaining dignity of aliens and predators across the universe. Two proud races slandered and humiliated, on the Lord’s birthday no less. And why? For what? What the hell did aliens and predators ever do to us other than entertain and delight us, scare us, fuck up our space colonies and skin some dudes in a jungle? Nothing. And for that we give them a franchise so lazy it can’t even be bothered to spell out its own titles.
Okay, let me say this. The directors of the movie, who are credited as THE BROTHERS STRAUSE (I picture them as the Barbarian brothers, preferably holding battle axes while on set), are not entirely incompetent. I don’t believe they will ever be smokin hot directors like Ridley Scott was when he created his masterpiece ALIEN (sorry BLADE RUNNER, but you know it’s true. Why don’t you go cry in the rain now?) or like James Cameron when he made one of the best sequels ever made (ALIENS or T2, take your pick). But better than Paul Not Thomas Anderson? Yeah, I’ll buy that. On par with Stephen Hopkins? Sure, why not? I could believe that. But this is no PREDATOR 2. That’s all I ask is a PREDATOR 2 or greater level of quality, but I didn’t get it.
The monsters look pretty cool when you get glimpses of them. There is some violence, and we like violence. The look of the movie is pretty decent for the most part. It’s cool and kind of weird that the director of photography is Daniel Pearl of THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE fame and TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE infamy. After a nicely shot opening in the Colorado woods that ironically mimics E.T., the power eventually goes out and most of the events end up taking place in dark buildings or tunnels or outside in the rainy night. This was an intentional choice to imitate the dark and wet look of ALIEN, but I’m not sure they thought it through that well. In ALIEN the alien is mysterious, kept off screen most of the time, and Scott is using our imagination against us, all the while knowing that when we do see it the thing is so fuckin weird it’s gonna be scarier even than what we were picturing.
THE BROTHERS STRAUSE don’t have that advantage or that goal. The aliens are not mysterious and there is no time in the movie where they try to create any tension about where the aliens are. More often there is some scene where two ordinary characters are talking about ordinary things in a kitchen and suddenly an alien storms in and kills them. Or some dudes are fighting over a girl at a swimming pool and an alien comes out and kills them. So when we finally get what the letters before the dash in the title promised why the fuck does it have to be in the dark, in the rain, with a handheld camera shaking around? Is there some storytelling reason why we should not clearly see what’s going on in the climactic fight between the only two characters anybody gives a shit about? I don’t think there is. And that kind of sums up the movie. Not thought through that well, and no reason for it.
The thing about this movie, it’s not the kind of bad where it’s funny or awe inspiring in its craziness or anything like that. It’s more frustrating because it’s competently made but it’s so misguided from the very concept that you can’t figure out why the hell they didn’t try to do something more worthwhile. Maybe they could’ve pulled it off.
This might be some kind of arcane wisdom that nobody else is privy to, but I happen to know that both the ALIEN and PREDATOR movies are not just monster movies, they’re about CHARACTERS. Obviously Ripley is one of the all time great characters in sci-fi movies. But there’s also Dallas, Ash, Parker and Harry Dean Stanton (admittedly, I forgot his name was Brett). And in ALIENS who can forget Bishop, Vasquez, Burke (eerily believable sleazy bureaucrat) or of course Private “Game over, man!” Hudson? And that’s only a few of the memorable characters in those movies. PREDATOR’s characters are more iconic action movie types. The monster is cool but the reason for the movie’s longevity is the asskicking ensemble of cigar chomping Dutch, Carl Weathers and Bill Duke at their most badass, crazy fuckin Sonny Landham and Jesse “The Body” Ventura’s greatest role with his greatest lines and his greatest weapon.
So how does credited screenwriter Shane Salerno try to build on the legacies of those beloved characters? WITH A FUCKING PIZZA DELIVERY BOY IN A SMALL TOWN IN COLORADO. That’s the hero of the movie. He is sad because his boss makes him wear a hat and because he has the hots for a blonde model in his class, but she’s dating an asshole bully who looks like Fred from Scooby Doo if he were 30 years old and trying to dress up as a contemporary high school student. (I’m betting they cut out the scene explaining that these characters are undercover narcs like on 21 JUMP STREET.) Fred makes fun of Pizza Boy for being a Pizza Boy so Pizza Boy calls Fred a fag so Fred takes his keys and throws them in the sewer! That will surely be an iconic scene everyone will always remember like Ripley in the powerloader or Dutch jumping from the Predator bomb.
(By the way, can we have a moratorium on sewer tunnels? How many towns in Colorado really have huge sewer tunnels with walkways in them? If you believe movies every street in the world has a sewer tunnel below, crawling with mutant crocodiles, vampires, reapers, aliens, predators, Beauty and the Beast and who knows what else.)
Anyway the blond gets mad and breaks up with Fred and about an hour in she and Pizza Boy are gonna sneak into the school swimming pool to screw. But then Fred shows up and there’s gonna be a fight! And the Predator is there too! Also there’s a part where the Predator comes out of the cement on the street by Dairy Queen. You know, the one across the street from Papa John’s. I know I am making this sound like one of the all time great movies but actually it’s kind of dull.
There are supposed to be safeguards such as “common sense” and “basic decency” put in place to prevent this sort of thing from happening. I’m sure there are many people responsible for it but we need a scapegoat so I’m gonna pin it on Salerno. Unless he comes into the talkback and claims that he was held at gunpoint and the lives of his loved ones were at stake, I don’t think there’s an acceptable excuse for writing a movie like this. He would probaly claim that the studio head used to work in the pizza delivery industry and would not greenlight the movie unless it gave him a forum to share those experiences with ALIEN and PREDATOR fans as he had always dreamed. Sorry bud, that doesn’t get you off the hook. You are still responsible for your actions regardless of who told you to do it or how much money they paid you. Haven’t you seen A SIMPLE PLAN? Or JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG?
Come to think of it I don’t think he has because at the end of the movie (SPOILER) the military has nuked the town RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD style, the dumbass heroes have escaped the blast and are surrounded by soldiers, and the guy called Dallas (who’s no Tom Skerritt, by the way) says “You bastards! You killed every one in the whole town!” A soldier says, “We were just following orders.” And then the heroes put down their guns, accepting that as a reasonable answer, and the movie ends, as if we are also supposed to accept that.
But, sorry bud. You’re wrong on that one. Nuremberg was right.
I don’t like to call people I don’t know idiots, but how do you explain this getting made? Who the fuck thought this was the story to use? If this is the one they give the greenlight to then what the fuck were the rejected ideas? I’m sure there was one where they were in the hood, and one where they were on a reality TV show. Hey, I have an idea, next time you should go the LEPRECHAUN route and put them in space! That would really mix this franchise up if you could put the aliens into an alien environment like that! You can use this idea for free, no need to credit me.
I have enough problems accepting aliens on earth in the present day, because of how stupid and insignificant that makes Ripley’s story. Still, I was willing to accept this as a cheesy PREDATOR sequel. But the story is not a PREDATOR story, it’s a worse than usual NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET sequel. I’m surprised they didn’t throw in a part about how the parents don’t believe the kids that there are aliens and predators.
There are scenes where the kids are struggling with their love lives and you just think, what the fuck THE BROTHERS STRAUSE, why are you showing me this? You could take this same dumb ass story and make it much more tolerable just by not following these walking cliches with blond streaks. Do it only from the point of view of the cops, instead of partly. Or from the POV of the soldiers who are called in to respond. Or best of all, from the POV of the Predator. He’s the only character you really perk up for when he shows up.
By the way, this movie does not contradict my theory that the hunters in PREDATOR 1&2 are the redneck yokels of Predator society. In fact, they briefly show the Predator planet and there are buildings there, it’s not a bunch of trees with skulls nailed to them or anything. They are civilized. The main Predator here is just sitting at his post in Predator City, minding his own business, when he finds out about those stupid Mitchell Report muscleheads from AvP1 and he has to fly to earth to clean up their mess, destroy the evidence before humans find out about aliens and warn Ripley not to go into space or something. I’m not actually clear why exactly he has to destroy the evidence, but he’s probaly just doing his job, like Salerno. And like Salerno he’s not that great at his job, since he first destroys evidence of aliens and then, moments later, skins a man alive and hangs him upside down ten feet in the air.
Still, he’s a pretty good Predator and clearly the most interesting character in the movie. So if they weren’t gonna put any effort toward actual characters they should’ve cut all that shit out and made the movie about the Predator. The directors are special effects guys, by the way, and clearly are better with monster suits than with TV actors. Either that or nobody told them how this brother team thing works, that one of the brothers is supposed to work with the actors while the other one moves the camera around.
I’m not saying there can’t be humans in a movie like this (although I always wanted to see that in an ALIEN movie). But if it’s mainly gonna be about the human characters and their love lives, you better make them resemble humans, or at least characters. If you could take out all of the characters and their storylines, you would have a passable movie. So good effort I guess on the other stuff, fellas. But next time do better.
Originally posted at Ain’t-It-Cool-News: http://www.aintitcool.com/node/35164