(Photo by 20th Century Fox.)
Ever since 1979, when Ridley Scott blasted the haunted house formula into deep space, the Alien franchise has been synonymous with brooding atmosphere, strong female leads, eye-covering gore, grotesquely magnificent set design (as originally envisioned by H.R. Giger), and films that just overall ooze with style, along with whatever else that drips out of a Xenomorph’s mouth. In 1986, James Cameron turned the series into an action epic; subsequently, any sequel that tries the same route now gets called the Aliens of whatever franchise. David Fincher and Jean-Pierre Jeunet had their controversial and trouble moment in the series, and then two Rotten Predator-related spinoffs convinced Scott to return with mythological prequel Prometheus and back-to-basics Covenant. See how they all stack as we rank all Alien movies by Tomatomter!
(Photo by © 20th Century Fox)
Just like you at home, we at Rotten Tomatoes – the writers and staffers who bring you the site’s original content – don’t always agree with the Tomatometer verdict. (Just check out our list of Rotten movies we love.) Enter AVP: Alien vs. Predator: The 2004 sci-fi thriller so nice they named it twice, sitting pretty with a 20% Tomatometer score and 39% Audience Score. Critics felt it was toothless and scare-free, while YOU felt it bungled the Alien franchise’s far-future continuity. And pretty much everyone thought the AVP-colon business in the title was just stupid. But, looking back – more fondly than we expected – as we near the release of Shane Black’s The Predator, we’ve come to a strange realization: AVP is actually pretty good.
No, really. AVP: Alien vs. Predator – our levels of respect are such that we will use the full name! – is almost criminally underrated. It has a great cast, a fantastic set-up, and more than enough action and fan-service for a nerdgasmic experience, if you’re a fan of either franchise. And it is, without a doubt, better than some of its contemporaries. Don’t believe us? Read on for some reasons why you should revisit it sometime.
AVP: Alien vs. Predator borrowed heavily from the Dark Horse-published comic of the same name, which featured Machiko Noguchi, human protagonist-turned-Predator protégé. She would go on to be a series staple and fan-favorite character.
Sanaa Lathan is fantastic in the film as Alexa “Lex” Woods, a mountaineer and environmental technician who is, in many ways, modeled after Noguchi. Woods is a pragmatic and resourceful guide for the Weyland Industries expedition to a Predator temple. She is the definition of “cooler heads prevailing” when among her scientist cohorts, but she has no trouble mixing it up with the Aliens and Predators – so much so that the Predator Scar takes her as an apprentice and eventually uses Alien blood to brand her with a warrior’s mark, rendering her an honorary Predator. So cool.
Lathan brings great physicality to the role, using a spear and shield crafted from an Alien’s carapace to fight an Alien Queen. More, Lathan’s screen time with Scar displays her impressive range as an actor (yes, we did just say that in a piece about Alien vs. Predator) – her initial horror develops into curiosity, admiration, empathy, compassion, and remorse in a way that others might render mawkish. She’s a fantastic character, and – attention, Shane Black, if you’re gearing up for a sequel – we’d love to see her return to the series.
In AVP, we see Lance Henriksen as Charles Bishop Weyland, CEO of the company, and are given a sense of what drives the company’s achievements in exploration, satellite communication, and robotics: legacy. Weyland is obsessed with creating something of lasting value and leaving his mark on society, a trait that would continue to define the company after its merger with the Yutani Corporation. What’s more, even though Ridley Scott’s Prometheus and Alien: Covenant strip the company’s backstory from the canon, they still maintain the motivation of legacy and creation.
AVP adds a ton to the canon. The discoveries made in AVP: Alien vs. Predator explain the Weyland-Yutani Corporation’s knowledge of and interest in the Alien race. Henriksen’s casting as Weyland implies that the company used human proxies for their androids, which suggests that the second Bishop in Alien 3 is also an android and possibly an unwitting one. Where so many prequels sully the continuities with rehashed plots or silly contrivances, AVP deepens the existing lore – especially that of Weyland Industries – without detracting from previous films.
By 2004, Aliens and Predators were a pop-cultural institution, with endless comics, video games, and action figures. In effect, they’d become as recognizable as chattier horror fixtures like Freddy Krueger (the Predators even have some choice one-liners in their films). A comic book and video game enthusiast himself, director Paul W.S. Anderson played into the idea of character in AVP by enriching the warring races’ personalities.
The Predators are presented as an imperialistic race of hunters on a sacred rite of passage – and more importantly, they’re rookies: They’re reckless, arrogant, and underestimate their opponents, leading to their demise. Each Predator is given just enough personality to be distinctive: Celtic, their wizened leader; Chopper, who specializes in wrist blades; Scar, who wields a Frisbee-sized Shuriken and befriends Woods; and Elder, who demonstrates an uncharacteristic understanding and empathy for its race.
The Aliens get a special character in the form of Grid, an Alien who barely survived a Predator’s Netgun. Named for the markings left by the net, Grid becomes the Predators’ nemesis, leading a pack of Aliens on the hunt for their hunters like the head of a brutal posse. Even the Alien Queen, previously depicted as a vengeful mother in Aliens and a tender one in Alien Resurrection, is given new dimensions, coming across as starvation-maddened and berserk, bent purely on feeding.
AVP knew what it had to deliver for fans: shared continuity and a victory lap for the series, just as Freddy vs. Jason had been tasked to do earlier, and the Avengers would have to do later. The whole point of AVP is to pay off the set-ups in previous films (the Alien trophy in Predator 2 and implications of Weyland-Yutani in the Alien series), and to blend the Alien franchise’s horror with the Predator franchise’s action. It does those things and more by touching upon every previously established idea in both franchises and pushing them further. And holy nerdgasm, those fight scenes – you get your money’s worth.
More importantly, AVP knows what its audience needs. It’s a message flick – really. Its plot is about the nature of hubris: The human characters explore the Antarctic for forbidden knowledge and are slaughtered for it; the Predators are arrogant enough to believe they can control the Aliens, and things go just as well for them. Anderson presents all of these Aesopian morals without compromising his comic book-styled, action-horror adventure.
Which makes it better than Prometheus and Alien: Covenant.
We know the Tomatometer would say different (AVP is Rotten, the other guys are Fresh), but hear us out.
All three films are riffs on H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness, a story where humans travel to a newly discovered cradle of civilization intending to learn the secrets of the gods. There, they find that the gods fashioned and exploited a slave race, which later rose up to slay them. Humanity now must flee from the emancipated slave race. The films are, in terms of story structure, very similar.
The difference is in the execution. AVP knows that it’s a pulpy camp-fest and leans into it, reimagining Madness with fun and consistent characters, consistent tone, and clear cause-and-effect. Prometheus and Alien: Covenant want to be prestige genre pieces but are stuffed with characters whose personalities and sense of logic fluctuate from scene to scene as wildly as the film’s tone shifts from horror to camp to philosophy class. And whereas AVP gets to the action, the other flicks’ narratives spend too much time rehashing and over-explaining series elements better left to the imagination.
In embracing the schlock and horror, and eschewing any pretentions of being high art, AVP wins the battle of Aliens vs Predator vs Promethus vs Covenant.
Agree? Disagree? In space, no one can hear you scream, but we can sure hear you sound off in the comments!
Enough with the space jockeys, unqualified cartographers, and people who run in straight lines: How about terrorizing someone who can put up a real fight? Vote on our 10 suggestions below or leave your dream Alien deathmatch in the comments!
According to ShockTillYouDrop, we’ll all find out soon enough. Following up on earlier comments from AvP2 directors the Brothers Strause, who said Fox was taking a “wait and see” approach to another sequel, the site reports that the ever-popular “anonymous source” has labeled a third Alien vs. Predator film “a certainty.”
According to the Strauses, a third AvP “would have to continue in space” — but, as ShockTillYouDrop is quick to point out, the Strauses’ involvement is as yet undetermined. Despite near-universal critical pans, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem earned $128.8 million in worldwide theatrical grosses, a total that can only grow when the sequel reaches DVD on April 15.
According to USA Today, when you cross an Alien with a Predator, the result is “either a bad joke or a box-office hit.”
It’s possible, of course, to release a film that is both a bad joke and a box-office hit, but USA Today has a point, and it’s one well-taken by directors Colin and Greg Strause in their interview with the syndicate regarding the upcoming Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem: For the sequel, which opens December 25, the brothers promise a return to the dark ‘n’ scary roots of the Alien and Predator series.
Matter of fact, the Strauses claim to have used the originals as inspiration for Requiem, telling USA Today:
“That movie was dark. That movie used a lot of rain…And that movie was scary. We want it more like the classic early Alien and Predator movies we grew up on.”
In the latest sequel, according to USA Today, “an alien that bursts from a predator’s body, or a “predalien,” leads the war as the creatures descend on a small Colorado town.” Behold the predalien:
The article goes on to note that AVP2 finds the series turning away from CGI effects, comparing the new film’s 12 alien outfits to the six used in the first two Alien movies. As Greg Strause puts it:
“You’re not going to see 50 digital creatures running around…We want to bring the franchise back to basics.
“That’s what made them so frightening in the first place.”
Source: USA Today
It isn’t widely known to American audiences, but John Mackenzie‘s 1979 gangster drama The Long Good Friday is recognized as a classic of British film — which is precisely why it may perturb its fans to learn a remake is in the works.
A remake to be written and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson.
Anderson’s work has its fans, of course — and there’s something to be said for acts of stylized violence such as Alien vs. Predator and Resident Evil — but given that his films boast an average Tomatometer rating of 23 percent, it’s fair to say those fans are outnumbered by unimpressed critics such as the Village Voice’s Gary Dauphin, who accused Anderson of “a cheerful disregard for characterization and visual texture” in his review for 1998’s Soldier. (And that’s actually one of the kinder quotes we found.)
This all helps to explain why Anderson took it cheerfully in stride when Empire came calling this week, wanting to know why he felt it necessary to remake such a beloved film. After joking that he was doing it “to win Oscars,” he called The Long Good Friday one of his favorite films — then boasted that not even Martin Scorsese had been able to obtain approval from the film’s rights holders for a remake. How did Anderson succeed where Scorsese failed? According to the director, he “had a take on it that they really liked, and I think they knew that I would respect the original movie enough to keep the essence of the original film.”
That “take” involves moving the action from London to Miami, and abandoning the IRA subplot. From the article:
“It’s not the IRA in ours, but it is another terrorist organisation, and we’re doing it in Miami, so we’re re-imagining it for America. Otherwise the story beats and characters will pretty much play out.
It will have the same human cortège scene at the start; the spitting in the face; he’s been away somewhere, but it won’t have been to New York…I think the script [of the original film], Barrie Keeffe‘s original screenplay, is so good. And the story is a great story with a great twist in it. And it’s pretty remarkable that your lead character is a gangster and you really root for him.
I think it’s a great movie for a remake, because outside of the UK it’s virtually unknown and it was very much a movie of its time. It really captured that London of that time in the same way we’re hopefully going to capture Miami of right now.”
As Empire points out, Anderson hasn’t said anything to curb fans’ suspicions about the remake — but then again, he was the guy who won the remake rights, so maybe it’ll all turn out for the best in the end. To read more of Anderson’s interview, click on the link below!
Early reports suggested it would take place in a “Midwestern town,” but perhaps Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem won’t be such an Earth-bound affair after all.
Of all the complaints pre-emptively lodged against the Alien vs. Predator sequel, perhaps the most frequently voiced has been its rumored location. For a large number of fans, making an AvP sequel was unnecessary in the first place — but if the studio really felt like it had to happen, the filmmakers could at least stage the latest round in space (where no one can hear you scream).
Well, what do you know? Maybe they did just that.
According to a report posted yesterday at Shock Till You Drop, “an anonymous scooper” has confirmed that Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem “will give fans a long-awaited look at the home world of the Predator species.” As the article notes, Requiem co-director Greg Strause recently told Fangoria that “a new world” might “perhaps” be a part of the sequel, so maybe Mr. Anonymous Scooper is onto something here.
In a move that is certain to make millions of moviegoers more excited about seeing the film, 20th Century Fox has announced that it’s changing the title of Alien vs. Predator 2 to Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem.
We don’t have a trailer to show you yet, but ComingSoon, along with giving us the new title, shares a nail-biting synopsis for the highly anticipated sequel to the 2004 classic Alien vs. Predator:
In the film, the iconic monsters from two of the scariest film franchises ever wage war in an American Midwestern town — with the residents caught in the middle. David Paetkau, John Ortiz, Johnny Lewis, Reiko Aylesworth, Sam Trammell, Shareeka Epps and Steven Pasquale star.
There you have it — Aliens and Predators, duking it out in the Midwest. Who wants to lay odds that the film’s climactic battle takes place in a Wal-Mart?
Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem is scheduled for what will surely be a record-breaking Christmas Day opening.
With only a week to go before the annual geek-fest known as San Diego Comic Con, one of the major studios has bailed on the event: Fox!
The original plan was to share some promotional materials from upcoming Fox projects like Doug Liman’s Jumper, Vin Diesel’s Babylon A.D., Timothy Olyphant in Hitman, the highly-anticipated The Dark Is Rising, and (of course) this winter’s Alien vs. Predator 2.
While all the other studios will be neck-deep in marketing tricks and enthusiastic nerds, Fox will be hard at work getting their packages ready. From the L.A. Times: “The material wasn’t ready and we only want to go out when we can put our best foot forward,” Sean Dudas, the studio’s vice president of national publicity, said on Wednesday.”
Fox’s “Atomic” division will still be on hand to hype the Kevin Bacon revenge flick Death Sentence and the Rainn Wilson comedy The Rocker. Comic con attendees should take note, though: Word is that Fox still has a few ‘surprises’ in store for the event. So keep your eyes peeled for aliens, predators, and Vin Diesel.
UPDATE: According to CHUD.com, there might be another reason for Fox’s last-minute plan-change. Apparently the “con” does not approve of R-rated materials, and since most of the studio’s fare will be leaning in that direction, they figured it wasn’t necessarily worth all the expense. Interesting theory.
That’s what one of the lead actors had to say, anyway. Plus apparently there’s some nifty little surprise in store that the sci-fi geeks are supposed to love.
According to an interview piece at MTV Movies Blog, actor Steven Pasquale had this to say about the upcoming "Alien vs. Predator" sequel: "Haven’t we always wondered what would happen if they made it to Earth? [Well] now they have, and drama ensues. It’s more about survival."
And regarding how much screen time our title characters will get? "Aliens and predators will be fighting to the death … There’s a little secret surprise that I can’t tell you about that the sci-fi fans are going to go bananas over."
"Alien vs. Predator 2" opens in December.
Source: MTV Movies Blog
According to Variety, Mr. Anderson (best known as the guy who directed "Resident Evil," "Alien vs. Predator," and "Event Horizon") will step in and direct "Spy Hunter" for Universal once he’s finished with his remake of "Death Race 2000," also at Universal.
No word yet on whether or not Mr. Rock is still connected to the project. It’s reported that Anderson will re-write the screenplay with a new partner — even though the project’s been written and re-written by the likes of Zak Penn, Stuart Beattie, Michael Brandt, and Derek Haas.
More on this slow-moving project when info becomes available … but I bet that car’s gonna look pretty neat.
According to Collider.com, the trailer for "I Am Legend" will play before screenings of "Ocean’s 13," so there’s a 14th reason to go see the flick.
Regarding the trailer for the "Alien vs. Predator" sequel, we’re expecting some sort of clip to be unleashed at next month’s geek-tastic San Diego comic con. Which means it should hit the ‘net within a week. I know how excited you all are for the teaser trailer for "Alien vs. Predator 2: Survival of the Fittest."
Matter of fact, expect a whole LOT of juicy new goodies once that con rolls around.
It’s been a while since we’ve done anything on "Alien vs. Predator 2," so let’s talk about that one for a few minutes.
If you’re a big fan of the "Alien" and/or "Predator" series (and who isn’t?) then you were probably pretty psyched, and then probably pretty disappointed by "Alien vs. Predator." But with a sequel on the horizon, our hopes are simply this: a better flick. (Nastier, too.)
AlienExperience.com had a rather solid interview with "AVP2" art director Andrew Li, and buried within the large article were a few choice tidbits:
"AXP: As the setting is unique to both the Alien and Predator franchises, what kind of influences did you draw from the previous installments?
AL: For the Predator, we got a glimpse of their starship at the ending of the last AVP when we see one of their own lying dead on a Predator altar bed. We take cues from that design and ramp it up for our version of the altar bed and the Predator spacecraft. We developed our own version of the Predator alphabet which is similar to the characters that have already been established.
AXP: This is the first film featuring the Alien creatures to be shot predominately on-location; was it a challenge to create new and convincing environments?
AL: What’s unique about this Alien movie is that we finally see the Aliens invading somewhere that most people would be familiar with – small town U.S.A. In a sense, this puts the movie in the classic horror genre where some evil being is killing innocent people in places that were once considered safe. So by this measure, it was not difficult to create new and convincing settings. The Alien is an incredibly resilient character."
"Classic horror genre?" Cool. Late in the piece Mr. Li plainly states: "It’s a horror movie." Hopefully that means an R rating, right?
If you’re making a gritty action flick and you need a hardcore bad-ass for the lead role, heck, you could do a whole lot worse than Jason Statham.
Statham, best known for his work in "Crank," "Snatch," and both "Transporter" flicks, is about to sign on to star in Paul (W.S, not Thomas) Anderson’s "Death Race," which is a (yep) remake of a 1975 Roger Corman movie called "Death Race 2000." (That one starred Sylvester Stallone, David Carradine, and Martin Kove.)
If memory serves, "DR2K" was a tongue-in-cheek, yet really violent, sci-fi adventure about a vicious road race in which drivers got bonus points for mayhem and murder. (I may have to give that flick a fresh rental.) One wonders if Anderson’s new version (he’s writing and directing) will be more of a full-bore action movie. Nothing against the guy, but flicks like "Soldier," "Resident Evil," and "Alien vs. Predator" don’t exactly scream "sense of humor."
Source: The Hollywood Reporter