08 July 2008

"Mother, I've turned the cooling units back on. Mother!"

Dare we dream? Could there be hope for cinephiles the world over, especially following the unspeakable desecrations of the indefensible Aliens vs Predator 'films?'

A few thoughts on Alien vs. Predator

The Alien Quartet is almost like a sacred text to me, so I was obviously negatively inclined to this new film going in. That said, Alien vs. Predator is a hollow shitting machine that takes everything interesting or provocative built up during the eighteen years that span the four films (as well as the two perfectly enjoyable Predator films) and processes them into CG vidiocy.

A suitable simile; Alien vs. Predator is like finding out that your dear crazy old aunt has been pimped out by the people running her nursing home, and then, outraged and hurt by this news, being confronted with the knowledge that members of your family approved of it. Series producers David Giler, Walter Hill, and Gordon Carroll all have their names on this monstrosity, as do original screenwriters Dan O'Bannon and Ron Shusett. At this point, the only person connected to the ongoing vitality of the Alien films with any credibility is Sigourney Weaver. Everyone else has sold out to Fox's PG-13 bullshit vision of what amounts to a digital WWF match.

Rupert Murdoch and NewsCorp have much to ashamed of in this world and time, but I am honestly more disgusted with what they've done to their most noble franchise than anything broadcast on Fox News. The Aliens should be terrifying, but an irritated Bill O'Reilly or ignorant-ass Sean Hannity is scarier than anything in this misbegotten waste of time.

I went with some hope. I went because it was an Alien film, and I had to see it. But I was wrong. This is not an Alien film. I reject, disown, and disfellowship it from the canon. It does not exist to me, or to anyone who treasures good Horror, Sci-Fi, and Action. Don't go see this film, it will only break your heart.

Plot and acting is irrelevant. Gore is minimal and modulated. The MPAA is useless, and while I begrudgingly respect the visceral impact of writer/director Paul W.S. Anderson's Event Horizon and can find a few interesting moments in his Resident Evil, after viewing what he has done to the Alien films (a collection of work that professes still to love), I would not piss on him if he were on fire.

With all the human, Predator, and Alien blood and viscera flung about on the screen during its endless running time, how strange that the overwhelming sensation/image/texture/embodiment of the Alien vs. Predator experience is shame.

No stars.

A few thoughts on Aliens vs Predator vs Species 2 vs Return of the Living Dead vs Ron Paul

I had been warned going into it.

The film had been in general release for four days- plenty of time for a diverse cross-section of people to see it and report back. And oh, I scoured print media and the blogosphere and every SciFi/Horror site out there, trying to find something that would allow me to sit this one out. I try to see every R-rated horror film just on general principle, but any bastardization of a dear franchise can cause a temporary suspension of that rule.

The red-band trailer for this film made it look interesting and gory. We had two exploding heads, a non-consensual melting, a cheerleader impaled on a glaive, and several inner-alien-mouth brainstrikes. In the trailer! How could there not be some vestige of hope for the best movie monsters of the past thirty years?

But still the advance word was dire- with some even saying that the first Alien vs Predator film was superior to this newer effort. I could not conceive of this.

But then I happened upon the Onion AV Club review, which called the film loathsome, and made reference to something that I knew I had to see for myself- Aliens vs Maternity Ward. That settled it. Crap or not, I was going to have to see this, because the idea of letting some xenomorphs from LV-426 loose in a maternity ward was just too fucking sick and appealing for me not to take a look.

Maybe it comes from working in retail/public service jobs for too long. Maybe it's because I'm so tired of being valued less by society than your average infant (and don't accuse me of overreacting, because American society today values any white infant more than they do any one gay person). Maybe it's the corrosive misanthropy that emerges every holiday season. Maybe I just wanted to see something that could cause such a shocked reaction from The Onion.

So I saw Aliens vs Predator: Requiem. The best thing about it- the trailer beforehand for Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay.

AVP-R (as the Fox marketing department has branded this mess, as if to market this incarnation's R-rating as a step up) is a damned disgrace. It has no respect for the Alien series (no shock there), though it seems to have at least expended some thought as to the Predator species (we see their home planet, in the only stroke of imagination in the whole mess). There are no characters in the film at all, and even to call them fuzzily-sketched archetypes is stretching it. Supposedly, this is meant to be a cross-section of America (pizza delivery boys, returning Iraq combat vets, stoner gun store clerks), but when the earthbound action is set in Colorado, you've lost me already. Humans aren't supposed to live at that height. I'm sorry, but it's the truth. I'm not saying that people living in Colorado deserve to have an alien war dropped out of the sky on them, nor am I saying that they should be nuked by a government in the thrall of up-and-coming weapons manufacturers. But have you ever been to Fort Collins, Colorado? I mean, Jesus.

Truthfully, there are only two necessary lines of dialogue in the whole film. "Get to the center of town," and "no, we need to get away from the center of town because the Army is going to blow up the town because there are aliens everywhere, though they seem to be engaged with some form of organism that can kill them, a predator of some sort." I'm exaggerating a little. But not that much.

Screenwriter Shane Salerno has no grasp on the mechanics of the Aliens or their life cycle. When you watch Alien or Alien3, you realize something that many of the subsequent films (including, intermittently, Jim Cameron's Aliens) forget. The aliens are smart. They are intelligent, pestilential creatures that cannot be easily killed. The lingering tragedy of Cameron's film is that it turned these beasts into targets, rather than opponents, and it is catastrophic that that is the element of the aliens that is carried forth with each successive film. But there's nothing intelligent about these monsters, they just lumber about in the rain or on girders and pop up and attack. It's disrespectful.

As for the rampage through the maternity ward, it's mildly vile, but it just feels like Species 2. Think, for a second, of the visceral horror brought to the medic bay sequence in Alien: Resurrection. Nothing's exploding or throat-raping anything else- it's just the sick remains of human and xenomorph intersecting along planes of Lovecraft's alien geometry, and it's devastating.

Of course, the other thing present in that scene that is sorely missing from the Alien vs Predator travesties is Sigourney Weaver. You know, the only mark of integrity left to the whole Alien series? The one who told Fox to suck it when they tried to get her involved with these fiascos? The one who built the finest female action hero in film history over the course of four films? Yeah, her. And there's nothing like that here, nor could there be. Because an Alien film with Sigourney Weaver's Ripley means something- they're real movies, not these fanboy mashup atrocities. And, with apologies to Reiko Aylesworth (late of 24 and Mr. Brooks), you can give us a badass woman and make her proficient in all sorts of weaponry, you can give her a daughter to reclaim, and you can even give her a troubled past, but the one thing even the sick bastards at Fox who keep greenlighting these abominations can't do is make another Ripley. It's out of their hands.

So the scoreboard is this-

PRESENT: an exploding baby or two, Trump-like slutty girl, Ripley ripoff, predator/prey relationships, blue super-acid, contempt for all that is accomplished and intriguing, the introduction of the mysterious Ms. Yutani, thirty-five year-old high schoolers, antiquated macho dumb shit, a good portion of Return of the Living Dead (I seriously expected one of the aliens to trigger the radio and say "send more National Guardsmen"), chestbursting child, naivete, Dairy Queen product placement.

ABSENT: meaning, comprehensible action scenes, actors, decent effects, perspective, respect for the series and/or critters, queen alien, Shareeka Epps (she must have realized early on this one was a stinker- good for her), a sense of urgency to the proceedings, recognizable human behavior.

I hate this movie on about the level that I hate rape. Boo to all involved, especially O'Bannon, Shusett, Giler, and Hill, for selling out so tragically. That this excrescence bears 'A Brandywine Production' is an unconscionable betrayal. If you were involved with this film, fuck you.

No stars.

If we can't get another quality Alien film, I'd settle for a documentary following Sigourney Weaver around the world as she efficiently and violently kicks the ass of everyone involved with those abominations.

1 comment:

Ron said...

Yeah, after AVP 1, I couldn't bring myself to see this one. They'll be direct to DVD soon, which is tragic for such a rich universe (Alien, not Predator). I'm waiting for a direct sequel to Resurrection or something entirely new set in that universe. BTW, have you read any of the Aliens graphic novels from Dark Horse? I've got them all in digital format, and some of them are pretty interesting. There's one that even goes into the back story on the Space Jockeys.