Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem

2007-12-25 (General release)

“You’re in over your head,” the coroner tells the sheriff. They’re looking at the deputy’s corpse, skinned and horribly bloody, found hanging upside down from a tree. As they try hard not to look at one another, the two men ponder their fates, and the obvious disruption of their peaceful lives in Gunniston, Colorado.

What neither knows yet is that this disruption is terminal. You know, though, because this is the sequel to Alien vs. Predator, which means there’s a basic opposition in place. And as soon as Sheriff Eddie (John Ortiz) admits he has no idea what he’s going to do about his dead deputy, it’s clear that he is indeed in over his head. At least he has company, including childhood friend Dallas (Steven Pasquale), just released from prison, and Dallas’ little brother Ricky (Johnny Lewis), pizza delivery boy and object of local bullies’ abuse. These decent but emotionally stunted guys probably aren’t the team you’d wish for, headed into a battle with all-powerful eight-foot-high monsters from another world, but in Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, they’ll have to do.

The movie — again, based on a video game and so, frontloaded with POV shooter imagery — begins where the previous film ended, as the Predators’ ship is headed home. The camera passes over lab samples of Aliens in odious close-ups, face-huggers banging against their glass containers, shadows suggesting that the Predator researchers are, well, in over their heads. Recalling the most memorable scene in Alien Resurrection, this imagery gives way to an injured Predator laid out on a table, and as you know must happen, his chest breaks open to release an Alien-Predator hybrid, who quickly dispatches with the rest of the crew, so the ship crashes into a patch of Colorado woods.

Here the fast-multiplying intruders wreak their usual havoc, starting with a couple of face-huggers claiming a couple of convenient hosts, a father-and-young-son hunting party (how ironic!). Poor kid: as soon as he’s crying over his dad’s demise, he’s face-hugged himself, and a few minutes later (these Aliens are fast-gestating), both are occasions for the Alien movies’ favorite effect: exploding chests yielding screechy-toothy-wormy baby Aliens. And yes, the child’s demise is particularly nasty, in concept if not composition.

Though it’s too late for this rifle-toting father and son, the humans do have a Predator in their corner — sort of. Back on his home planet, one Predator who remains nameless (unlike Scar of the first film in this sub-franchise) notes the loss of the ship and heads to earth with the apparent plan to get even with those deplorable Aliens. As always, this predator keeps focused on his hunt, only taking precious minutes to splatter, skin, and de-spine those ignorant humans who approach him with weapons.

The boys (Eddie, Dallas, et. al) keep themselves plenty busy denying the possibility of what’s in front of them (plus, Ricky’s distracted by a hot girl who presents herself in her underwear just before an Alien attack, so cleverly combining slasher-movie and Alien-movie conventions and so, so very deserving to die for it). The Ripley role is not-quite-filled by just-returning war veteran Kelly (Reiko Aylesworth), whose expertise in all things military allows her to wield large guns, drive a Striker, and pilot a getaway chopper. She comes with a tank-top, but of course, as well as her own screamy-meemy Newt, her young daughter Molly (Ariel Glade), who suffers the dreadful trauma of seeing her father mauled by an Alien just as he’s promising her there’s no such thing as monsters. Don’t these people watch movies?

The band of hardy survivors do the usual squabbling amongst themselves and manage the usual denials, including two regular points in the series: they don’t imagine their fates are entwined with that of the Predator, and can’t imagine their very own federal government means to harm them. Without such information (or intuition), they make serial errors in judgment, leading to one bad situation after another. Chief among these: as soon as someone suggests they head to the hospital (in search of an emergency helicopter), the camera cuts to what awaits them, which is a horde of Aliens marauding the corridors, and one especially industrious creature who heads to the maternity ward. Here the Alien finds women incapacitated and breathing very hard, as it performs what might be described as a grisly anti-abortion: injecting its spawn into their bellies though their mouths, a maneuver that involves contortion, suckage, and lots of screaming by women in nearby beds — who do not get up to leave.

To ensure you know from whence it came, AVP2 also lifts well-known scenes from its parent franchises (an Alien’s drippy jaw comes very close to a frightened female face; the Predator removes his bleepy-zappy high-tech helmet for the big showdown). Again, the Aliens are slapdash in their rampaging and the Predator is relatively moral, holding to strict rules of hunting. Unfortunately, the humans are also rather slack, cardboardy background for the main action between the Predator and assorted Aliens — which is consistently dark-shadowed, loud, and gooey.

RATING 4 / 10