Fanboys wanted this movie from the day Dark Horse Comics published its Alien and Predator crossover in 1989. One year later, Predator 2 teased an image of a Xenomorph skull, sparking further speculation of a movie. But the Predator franchise was dormant through the 1990’s, while the Alien series concentrated on standalone sequels. Then along came Freddy vs Jason, which illustrated the box office potential of crossovers. Quality concerns aside, Freddy vs Jason also proved it was possible to bring together popular characters from different franchises. Soon thereafter, AVP: Alien vs Predator happened. Event Horizon and Resident Evil director Paul WS Anderson was behind the camera. Aliens veteran Lance Henricksen had a central role, teasing possible connections to other movies. Inevitably, none of this mattered as AVP failed to impress critics or fans. But were we too harsh in our initial judgment? Or is AVP just a bad movie?
AVP: Alien vs Predator Forgot to Bring a Compelling Story to Join its Famous Monsters
With well over a decade to map out some kind of story, you’d think writer and director Paul WS Anderson could have come up with something a little more interesting. Both franchises came with rich mythologies to explore and interweave. And Alien vs Predator’s basic premise isn’t bad. Love or hate the Antarctica pyramid set-up, Anderson bakes up a pretty good reason to bring the monsters together on the big screen. True, it’s not Shakespeare. But it’s also a movie whose central appeal is watching two ‘big bad’s duke it out. In this regard, Alien vs Predator at least has an appropriately fun, pulpy starting point.
True, it’s not Shakespeare. But it’s also a movie whose central appeal is watching two ‘big bad’s duke it out.
Where Alien vs. Predator goes wrong is a problem shared by other monster movies. Specifically, AVP lacks interesting characters and human drama in between its monster mash-ups. Gareth Edward’s 2014 Godzilla reboot had the same problem once it killed off Bryan Cranston. But Alien vs Predator struggles even more on this matter. In spite of some talented actors – including Lance Henricksen, Sanaa Lathan, and Ewen Bremner – AVP weighs itself down with generic characters, bland dialogue, and a complete absence of human drama. You may be impressed when a Predator swings a Xenomorph by its tail, but you’re not likely to care about any of the human carnage. As a result, there’s nothing driving Alien vs Predator to its climax. Things just sort of happen, and then the movie ends. Where the movie fits in either franchise’s continuity is just another source of confusion best left to debates on Reddit forums
Murky Lighting, Bad Editing Hides Much of the Movie’s Impressive Visual Effects
For what’s essentially a B-monster movie, Alien vs Predator gets one thing right – the visual creature effects. Yes, in the sixteen years since its release, some of the CGI hasn’t aged well. But Anderson and company also relied heavily on practical effect and AVP benefits from that creative decision. The attention and care put into little details in the Predator designs makes the three hunters almost more of unique characters than their human counterparts. And the Xenomorphs, including the Queen, look nearly as impressive as they did in Aliens. Even in what’s largely a dull movie, it’s hard not to get excited when the Predator and Xenomorph come face-to-face for the first time. Anderson also shows some of the same creativity in his monster smackdown that he brought to his Mortal Kombat movie.
The bottom-line is that Alien vs Predator brings together two franchises distinguished by their R-rated gore.
However, Anderson’s direction and muted gore squanders much of the goodwill from the movie’s visual design. Murky lighting and bad editing hurt many of the Alien vs Predator’s fight scenes. At times, you’ll struggle to figure out what’s happening at key moments. And while there’s an unrated Director’s Cut of the movie, it doesn’t add much more than what’s in the theatrical release. The bottom-line is that Alien vs Predator brings together two franchises distinguished by their R-rated gore. As such, it’s hard not to be let down by what Anderson puts on screen here.
AVP: Alien vs Predator an Underwhelming, Missed Opportunity
AVP: Alien vs Predator isn’t a bad movie, per se. Rather it’s probably more accurate to describe it as underwhelming. Criticize Alien 3 and Predator 2 all you like, neither of those movies were boring. Comparatively, AVP is just kind of there in a completely underwhelming package. Though the visual effects are worthy of both franchises, everything else about the movie is just middle-of-the-road. Murky lighting, frantic editing, paper-thin characters, and a lack of drama are all culprits. If half as much time had been into crafting a compelling story as was put into the creature and set designs, AVP might have been worth the hype. As it stands, AVP has only one saving grace – it’s still better than Alien vs. Predator: Requiem.