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Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 4/15/2008
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 4/9/2008
Back in the early 1990s, Dark Horse Comics released several popular stories in their Aliens vs. Predator series, and rumors abounded that a movie was in the works. I would tell anyone who would listen that it wouldn't matter what the movie was like -- it could simply be 90 minutes of Aliens and Predator toys fighting -- that title on the marquee would rake in millions. Unfortunately, I was right and 2004's Aliens vs. Predator was a stinker which wasted any potential that the franchise had. The movie also turned a nice profit, so a sequel was inevitable. So, now we have Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, a film which does something that the comics did years ago; brings the Aliens to Earth to terrorize the populace. But, can the film scare up any quality?
Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem opens following the events of Aliens vs. Predator. As the movie begins, we see an Alien burst from the chest of a Predator, and thus the PredAlien is born. This creature wreaks havoc on the ship, which is loaded with Alien "Facehuggers", and it crashes to Earth just outside of a small town in Colorado. The Facehuggers escape from the ship and immediately attack two hunters. Meanwhile, a distress signal has been sent to the Predator homeworld, and a Predator warrior is dispatched to Earth. As the townspeople go about their daily lives, the Aliens begin to spawn and multiply, and when night falls, the attack begins. The Predator arrives on Earth and begins to follow the trail of victims which the Aliens have left behind. As the humans scramble to survive and escape from the town, the lone Predator attempts to kill as many Aliens as possible.
Just as the Aliens and Predators are at war in the movie, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem is a film which seems to be fighting itself. The movie feels like two films crammed together and for everything that it does right, it does a few things wrong.
The Alien saga came to Earth in the comics years ago, so it's not surprising that the movies finally caught up with this concept. What is surprising is the way in which it was done. The parts of the film concerning the humans play more like a soap opera than a sci-fi/horror movie. We are introduced to ex-con Dallas Howard (Steven Pasquale) who has just been released from prison. He is greeted in town by Sheriff Eddie Morales (John Ortiz), who apparently used to be friends with Dallas. Dallas is also reunited with his little brother, Ricky (Johnny Lewis), who has a crush on Jesse (Kristen Hager), who is out of his league. Meanwhile, Kelly O'Brien (Reiko Aylesworth) returns home from a tour of duty in Iraq to her husband and daughter, Molly (Ariel Gade). The movie cuts back and forth between the daily lives of these people with the antics of the Aliens and Predator, until all of the groups collide. But, even with all of the footage of the humans and the details of their complex lives (Will Ricky ask Jesse out? Will Dallas find a job?) they are all stereotypes and we learn very little about them. (The dialogue in the film doesn't help matters. My favorite line comes when the wife/mother of the missing hunters says to Sheriff Morales, "Do you think somethin' happened?" Well, clearly something happened. Something is always happening. That's what life is, a series of somethings happening.)
Once the sun sets on the town, the Aliens and Predators really go at it, and from there on out, the movie is non-stop action. This would normally be a compliment, but here, the monster-on-monster fighting turns into overkill due to the lack of any real story. We simply get scene after scene of the Aliens attacking people and the Predator attacking Aliens. Again, the human characters mean little to us, so we are simply watching cardboard cutouts being slaughtered by the creatures. As a long-time fan of the Alien series, I should have loved this movie, but there is very little variety here and once you've seen the PredAlien impregnate someone, seeing it happen again is simply boring. And the action can't hide the plot-holes in the film. The Predator goes out of his way to clean up the evidence of the Alien infestation...but he also takes the time to skin a man and hang him from a tree. Apparently, he doesn't entirely understand how to cover his tracks.
Given the history of the Alien and Predator franchises, it would be very difficult to create a perfect, crowd-pleasing Aliens vs. Predator movie, and so far the series is 0 for 2. But, the makers of Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem must be acknowledged for trying. Whereas Aliens vs. Predator seemed to spit it the eye of the films which came before it, Directors Colin and Greg Strause have loaded Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem with nods to the other films in the series. Long-time fans should get a kick out of the references happening here. Unfortunately, none of that can overcome the weak story and redundant action in the movie. The movie reminded me of The Blob and (as odd as this may sound) Halloween 4& 5, where we have a small town being assaulted by a deadly outside force. This movie would probably delight 12-year old boys, but those who respect the intelligence behind the Alien films will forget this one as soon as it's over.
Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem comes to Earth on DVD courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The film has come to DVD in both an R-rated and Unrated format. For the purposes of this review, only the Unrated version was screened. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. For a Fox screener disc, the image looks fairly good, as it's mostly sharp and clear. However, there is fine sheen of grain on the image. The colors look fine, most notably the lush greens of the forest. The problems arise during the second half of the film. Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem is a very dark movie and the image is too dark on this DVD. It's very hard to make out the action at times. The DVD carries both a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track and a DTS 5.1 track. Both tracks offer clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo and surround sound effects are very good here, and they play constantly throughout the film. We also get a plethora of subwoofer effects, most notably during the spcaceship crash scene. Of the two track, the DTS track is somewhat clearer.
The Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem DVD contains several extra features. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Directors Colin and Greg Strause and Producer John Davis. This talk offers a great deal of details about the film as the trio discuss many facets of the production. The Strause's give insight into the making of the movie by talking about the actors, the locations, and their forte, the visual effects. Next, we have a second commentary from creature designers Tom Woodruff Jr. and Alec Gillis. This pair give a great deal of information about the film's monsters, paying special attention to the specific designs of some of the creatures. However, it does slow down someone when the monsters aren't on screen. The unrated version of the film features the option to use an "Added Footage Marker", which will identify shots not in the theatrical cut. The DVD contains five featurettes. "Preparing for War: Development & Production" (16 minutes) looks at the Strause Brothers and their enthusiasm for the project, as well as the look of the film and the actors who play the creatures. There's very little discussion about the story. "Fight to the Finish: Post-production" (12 minutes) examines the editing of the film and the addition of visual effects in post-production. There are also examples of how pre-visualization helps with the editing process. And then there's the dude who does the Predator clicking noises... In "The Nightmare Returns" Creating the Aliens" (8 minutes) Woodruff and Gillis talk about the design work and changes which went into the creation of the aliens in this film. They point out how the monsters have changed over the film series. "Crossbreed: Creating the PredAlien" (8 minutes) has Woodruff and Gillis and The Strause Brothers discussing the design ideas which went into creating the Alien/Predator hybrid. We see on-set footage of the creature at work. "Building the Predator Homeworld" (7 minutes) contains concept art and comments on the filmmakers on how the alien planet was designed. The DVD contains 7 STILL GALLERIES, three of which examines designs, while the other four have on-set stills. The extras are rounded out by two THEATRICAL TRAILERS for the film.
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has also brought Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem toBlu-ray Disc. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc holds an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image here is very sharp and clear, as it shows basically no grain and no defects from the source material. The picture is very detailed and the landscape shots show a lot of depth. However, this transfer suffers from the same issues as the DVD -- during the latter half of the film, the image is simply far too dark at times. (And I know that it wasn't the brightness settings on my monitor.) There's nothing wrong with making a film like this dark, but it became impossible to tell what was happening at times. The Blu-ray sports a DTS HD 5.1 Master Lossless Audio track which runs at 48 kHz and 1.5 Mbps. In short, the sound here is awesome and this is definitely reference quality. The movie is filled with sound effects -- some subtle, some not -- and they all come through very clearly here. The dialogue is always clear and audible. The stereo effects are incredibly detailed and we hear every minute noise in the Predator ship. The battle scenes offer great surround sound and subwoofer effects. Even when you can't see what's happening here, it always sounds great.
Review Copyright 2008 by Mike Long