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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Aliens vs. Predator - Requiem
Aliens vs. Predator - Requiem
Fox // Unrated // April 15, 2008
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted March 11, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

When Fox said they were following up the mediocre PG-13 Alien Vs. Predator with an R-rated follow up entitled Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem, fans were hopeful that the studio was going to deliver where the first film fell short. While this sequel, courtesy of first time directing team Colin and Greg Strause (or if you prefer, The Brothers Strause), is a bloodier and more violent film than the one that came before, it's unfortunately a worse picture in pretty much every other regard.

The story shows us how a group of Predators load up a few alien face huggers and a dead predator, impregnated with the alien seed before his passing, onto a ship and launch the whole mess off to the Predator home world. Unfortunately, the impregnated Predator's spawn, a hybrid of the two races, hatches and slaughters the ship's crew sending the craft to Earth where it crashes in Colorado. The face huggers waste little time attacking a father and son hunting party while the hybrid runs amuck, while the distress signal sent by the ship's crew before their death alerts a Predator warrior who arrives on Earth to figure out just what exactly is going on.

Meanwhile, in the small Colorado town of Gunnison, soap opera dramatics are playing out. A former criminal named Dallas (Steve Pasquale) is let out of the big house where he's picked up by his former partner, Morales (John Ortiz), who now serves as the town's sheriff. A female soldier named Kelly (Reiko Aylesworth) returns home from Iraq to her loving husband, Tim (Sam Trammel), and their unsure daughter, Molly (Ariel Gade), who doesn't want her mother to read her bed time stories as she's become more attached to her father during mom's tour of duty. At the local high school, Dallas' kid brother, Ricky (Johnny Lewis), loses a fight with the more popular jock, Dale (David Paetkau), over a cute but loose girl named Jesse (Kristin Hager), who is into nighttime skinny dipping.

Soon, all of their lives will become mixed up and they'll have no one to depend on but themselves as the war between the aliens, who are breeding like crazy, and the Predators, who like to kill for sport, comes to a boil. The National Guard is called in but it's too little too late, Gunnison is in serious trouble and the Feds, who want to study the creatures rather than completely eliminate them, aren't going to be much help.

Requiem starts off reasonably well and it sets up what could be an interesting story but soon falls prey to unnecessary subplots and cliché after cliché after cliché. The opening scenes aside, the first forty minutes or so feel more like an episode of Dawson's Creek than a hard-edged science-fiction/action/horror movie. The movie sure does take its time getting to the actual war between the two species and once it does, we're too bored to care. There are a few interesting ideas that unfortunately don't add up to much, and as such, the film moves at a bad pace and the pay off isn't enough to make it worthwhile. Adding insult to injury is the fact that the Predator warrior sent to Earth is, well, dumb as a rock. This supposedly fierce hunter and universally feared killing machine is continuously outwitted not only by the aliens, but by the local teenagers as well. Compared to the way that the Predator's have been portrayed in the two films and the first match up, it doesn't make sense and it's not in keeping with the continuity already established. Maybe that's fan boy nitpicking, but it's true because the Predators make one dumb mistake after another in this picture.

To the filmmakers' credit, the picture does deliver the violence and carnage that was noticeably absent (or at least very underplayed) in Anderson's film. Unfortunately, a lot of the effects are obviously computer generated and as such, lack any soul and on top of that, the whole 'Predator heat vision' gimmick is overused. The violence here is so cartoon-ish that it lacks any impact and when you care so little for the cardboard characters that populate this film in the first place, that impact is sorely missed. The Brothers Strause have a background in special effects work and have some impressive credits under their belts in that area, but it's obvious they're so enamored with that side of the production that they've forgotten about logic gaps, plot holes, and interesting character development.

Fox presents Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem in its unrated format on DVD. While some of you out there might be imagining globs of gore footage reinstated back into the film, the bulk of the footage is minor character development bits that don't do much to flesh out the story and simply make a bad movie a longer, bad movie. That said, the scene with the hunter and his son in the forest is slightly harder now and the scene where the Colorado National Guard shows up to eliminate the alien menace is noticeably bloodier. The majority of the reinstated bits are conversational snippets and little talky pieces, though there is an interesting added bit early on where a Predator finds a downed ship containing one of his deceased brethren.

The DVD

Video:

This review of Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem is based on a text disc that we can only hope is not representative of finished, retail product. Not only does a 'property of 20th Century Fox' bug show up from time to time but the 2.35.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is plagued with some truly horrible compression artifacts and macro-blocking - it looks like a VCD. As such, no score will be assigned to this disc until a proper copy is sent to evaluate because this test disc looks terrible.

Sound:

English language tracks are supplied in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and DTS 5.1 Surround Sound with optional Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround tracks provided in French and Spanish. Optional subtitles are available in English and Spanish.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS Surround Sound tracks on this release are, as you can probably guess, a pretty aggressive mix, particularly during the attack and combat scenes. Gunshots have a nice punch to them and the alien 'squeals' sound sufficiently unsettling. Dialogue is nice and strong and the score, which comes at you from the front channels and some times from the rears as well, is nice and powerful without ever coming on too strong. There aren't any problems with hiss or distortion to report, and generally, this is a very nice effort on Fox's part. The DTS track gets a slight edge for having a little more punch than its Dolby Digital counterpart and for having a slightly stronger lower end but regardless of which option you choose, you should be pleased.

Extras:

Fox has included a pair of audio commentaries, this first of which comes from the directing team of Colin and Greg Strause who are joined by producer John Davies. They talk about the differences between the theatrical version and the unrated version, pointing out the differences in the new opening, and they discuss why the studio wanted a shorter version of the movie. They talk about how the comic books influenced the AVP films and their role in the movies before moving on to casting decisions, discussing the importance of the pizza boy role! They cover the grueling shooting schedule they had to work under, they discuss how good the performances are, and they cover what it was like shooting in Canada. They also point out what was added digitally to the film to 'add scope to the movie and squeeze that dollar as far as we can' and it's interesting to note that some of the additions are quite subtle and almost unnoticeable, whereas others are completely obvious. Overall, this is a very active commentary and while it doesn't make the film any better or more successful, you do get the impression that these guys all had their hearts in the right place and that they obviously had a good time making the movie.

The second commentary track joins up special effects supervisors Tom Woodruff Jr. and Alec Gillis, the two men who make up Amalgamated Dynamics. This commentary obviously focuses on the effects work and the two participants talk about updating some of the technology that we've seen previously in the older films that predate this one while also noting that they tried to stay true to the look and feel. They discuss the use of practical effects and digital effects, and they also discuss shooting in Vancouver, Canada, noting that it was a very cold time of year to shoot there. They also note that shooting an Alien movie (generally taking place indoors) is very different than shooting a Predator movie (which generally takes place outdoors) meaning that there was shooting going on day and night. This, coupled with the cold rain, made things tricky at times. There's a bit of dead air here and there which slows down the pace of this track at times but those who enjoy learning about special effects should find some worth here even if the two men spend a little too much time simply discussing what we see up there on the screen.

Also included is a keen feature for alternate version buffs, the Added Footage Marker. If you so choose, you can enable a video icon that appears on the screen to alert you of when the footage that has been reinserted into this unrated cut appears, making it easy to see what was added to the theatrical footage.

If the commentaries weren't enough and you want more AVP-R, take a look at the five short documentaries contained on this DVD:

AVP-R: Preparing For War: Development And Production (15:50) - A look at what it was like on set by way of some interviews with the cast and crew and some behind the scenes footage. Marginally interesting, if a little promotional in nature.

AVP-R: Fight To The Finish: Post-Production (12:11) - The Strause's talk about the extended cut, and we're shown some clips from it and we learn about what was required to get the film into theaters. We also see some storyboards and some early CGI rough work in addition to some finished effects work which we see integrated into the film and we learn how the score was composed. If you enjoy the technical side of filmmaking, you'll probably enjoy this as it's fairly interesting.

AVP-R: The Nightmare Returns: Creating The Aliens (7:34) - This featurette contains some great footage of the effects technicians sculpting the aliens and creating the face hugger prosthetics. We learn, from the production art team, how these monsters compare to those seen in the original Alien and how those original Giger designs were used as inspiration and we see how the alien has evolved in the films over the years. This featurette was genuinely interesting and well worth watching.

AVP-R: Crossbreed: Creating The PredAlien (8:20) - A lot of the same artists and sculptors from the last featurette show up and talk about the work that they did creating the hybrid monster featured prominently in the film. We get a look at some interesting early concept art, and we get a look at some nifty behind the scenes photographs and footage of the rubber suit created for the film in action! Again, this is a genuinely interesting look at how a part of this film was made.

AVP-R: Building The Predator Homeworld (6:36) - The last featurette features interviews with many of the same people previously seen on camera - the directors, effects techs and supervisors - in addition to more interesting behind the scenes footage, this time concentrating on how the scenes that take place on the Predator home world were put together using CGI and miniatures. Again, expect to see some keen concept art and some test CGI footage in addition to some worthwhile behind the scenes clips and interviews.

Rounding out the extra features are seven still galleries (Designing The Predator, Designing The Alien, Designing The PredAlien, On The Set: The Rooftop, On The Set: The Sewer, On The Set: The Hive, On The Set: Cast And Crew), animated menus and chapter stops. Fox has opted to omit any theatrical trailers or TV spots for the film, which is annoying.

Final Thoughts:

Even if the finished transfer turns out to be reference quality, it's not enough to make this film worth recommending. Obviously there's a built in audience for the two franchises and completists will want to own this release to keep their collections current but aside from that, there's really no reason to want to bother with Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem. It's dull, uninteresting, tiresome.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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