Aliens vs. Avatars (2011)
Directed by Lewis Schoenbrun
The “avatar” of Aliens vs. Avatars is a female alien named Ava. Inside her spaceship parked in Earth’s orbit, she has blue skin, pointy ears, and hair in a ponytail. Though the Navi look from Avatar is what they were obviously shooting for, to me she just looked like a really tall elf. Had the movie had this blue chick running around in her spandex spacesuit fighting a monster, I might have enjoyed it far more.
Ava’s Earth form is just that of the same actress without all the make-up. The explanation is that her earthly form is actually her spirit beamed down or some hooey like that. It doesn’t make a whole heck of a lot of sense to me either, especially considering how easily her spirit can be subdued and tied up by dim bulb college kids.
Her mission is to stop a creature called the Scythe before it brings about the end of mankind. The notion that this man-in-a-rubber monster suit whose human neck periodically peeps out from behind the mask and occasionally scampers about the woods as if the actor in the costume is racing to the bathroom is somehow a scourge of the universe was a little hard to buy into for a variety of reasons, not the least of which being when this third-string Power Ranger villain gets impaled with a stick that doesn’t even have a pointy end. Let me reiterate that. A puny human picked up a large tree branch with a perfectly flat end and stabbed it through the gut. And this monster is a threat to life on Earth?
The Scythe’s greatest weapon is its ability to take the form of anyone whose DNA it comes in contact with. That, naturally, leads to multiple scenes of characters encountering other characters suddenly behaving strangely and still falling for the deception even after they’ve been warned to watch out for such trickery.
The Scythe can also turn invisible. If it can turn invisible, I’m not sure why it needs to transform into other people to get the jump on them? I’m over-thinking this, aren’t I?
The only weapon capable of destroying the Scythe is Ava’s Japanese mech-like space battle bot called the Robotar. The addition of this delightfully cheesy battle robot – also a man in a costume - held much unfulfilled promise. I was very much looking forward to watching it and the Scythe engage in mortal combat, but the all-too-brief climactic confrontation between the two barely qualifies as a confrontation.
Of all the complaints one could make about a low rent sci-fi flick like Aliens vs. Avatars, how little it delivers on its own title is the most unforgivable grievance. The Robotar barely gets any screen time, and the avatar girl really doesn’t do much of anything in the end. She must have come from the planet Exposition-12 because her only real contribution to the film is to explain who she is, what the Scythe is, how it got here, why she’s here, how they can stop it, where they need to go to get what they need to stop it, and how to turn on what they need to stop it; but she herself really does nothing that constitutes use of the word “vs”. Aliens vs. Horny Campers would have been a more honest title.
I couldn’t help but be reminded of a guilty pleasure movie of mine from 1997 called The P.A.C.K. Like Aliens vs. Avatars, it, too, was a very low budget production shot in the woods with a small cast. The Predator-like P.A.C.K. (Prefabricated Animalistic Cybernetic Killer) looked like a reptilian cyborg costume from a late Seventies Italian Star Wars rip-off, and its weapon of choice was a robo-eyepatch that shot a death ray. The good alien was clearly based on Jeff Bridges’ Starman and relied on a multi-purpose electro-shooting metal wiffle ball. Laser effects can be pricey so most of the fights between the two devolved into hand-to-claw combat with the starman throwing haymakers and the P.A.C.K. bitch-slapping the taste out of his mouth with the back of its oversized hands. The main reasons I have a soft spot for that lousy movie is because the final battle for the fate of mankind fought between two rival extraterrestrials played out like a demented sci-fi variation of the finale of Rocky V.
Such z-grade joy is missing from most of Aliens vs. Avatars. It has a few moments here and there. Like when the slutty girl gets offended and storms off because the nerdy virgin she has reluctantly agreed to deflower is still too much of a gentlemen to have casual sex with her. That’s followed by the foot chase through the woods where it is obvious the actress is rather unsure of her footing on the rocky terrain and the guy in the monster costume is having to slow his pursuit down to accommodate her. Loved the computer effect when it ripped her eyes out; it sticks claws in her eye sockets and from the looks of the effect somehow hollowed out the entire inside of her skull.
Little moments like that are what truly count when you’re watching a movie such as this because, frankly, there’s not much else to love.
1 1/2 out of 5