Sunday, March 27, 2005

Alien vs. Predator

The rating for Alien vs. Predator gives it a PG-13, mostly for "slime and gore." Oooh. I've never seen that before.

As a sci fi movie fan, I hope for something more. I hope for the promise to be fulfilled -- we get high production values, good acting, a good story. But mostly we get to see the real protagonists of a movie such as this: the alien and the predator.

Any maker of such a movie knows that there's an unwritten list of the fan base. You have to answer this list if you hope to have the fans come back to your movie time and time again, to make it a hit. Fans of this genre have seen four Alien movies and two Predator movies. They've read the comics, they've created their own fiction, they've played the games. They want to see the Alien fight the Predator. Each fan has his or her own idea about who would win. So....we want to see the actual battle. More than that: we want to see each use its gifts and powers. The Predator, with his dreadlocks and armor, has personality, individualism, a great cache of weapons. The Alien is like the wandering white shark, all instinct, primal, with acid for blood. Each is an art form.

Lance Henriksen, the only star you'll recognize in the movie -- and maybe you won't even recognize his name, but he appeared in Aliens as well as Frank Black in The X-Files and Millennium T.V. shows -- said at Wonder Con that Sanaa Lathan is a miracle find and is fabulous in the movie. She is. She hasn't done much recognizable movie fare, but she's commanding in her first lead role. But, as I explained, she's not really the lead here. We're all waiting for the aliens.

While the 1979 Alien movie wrapped the creature in darkness at each early encounter, this film illuminates both creatures in spectacular lighting, lest there be any doubt who we're really here to see. And we see them within the first 25 minutes, when the Alien appears. He takes his first victim. We're on our way.

But it's hard to build suspense into a film when we know what's going to happen. We know we'll see the Alien fight the Predator. We know several humans -- maybe even all of them? -- will die in the interaction. We expect that. Where's the suspense?

And eventually that's the problem with this movie. We get the battles the fans demand. But in a personality starpower competition, there's nowhere to go. The humans are on the lower evolutionary rung. Aliens 2, Humans 0. And there goes the suspense.

But thumbs up for Alien or Predator fans. Slime and gore. This is what we came to see.


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