Aliens Vs. Predator: Requiem (DVD)
Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Steven Pasquale, Reiko Aylesworth, John Ortiz, Johnny Lewis, Tom Woodruff Jr., Ian Whyte
Directed by Colin Strause and Greg Strause
Distributed by Fox Home Entertainment
Dallas: "Eddie, you got power on that thing?"
Eddie: "Yeah, I just need some light."
So went an exchange between two of Aliens Vs. Predator: Requiem's main characters, and the irony is dumbfounding!
In this second go-around there wasn't much else you could do to fans of this series to depress them further. Paul W(riting) S(ucks) Anderson's lame attempt at a live action Aliens Vs. Predator film left many a black hole in thousands of hearts. There was only one way to go for first-time directors the Strause brothers, and that was up! Surely no one could craft a film as abysmal as Anderson's, right? Once the red band trailer hit and fans saw some actual gore being tossed around, memories of the first PG-13 crap-fest started fading fast. Dare I say it, Aliens Vs. Predator: Requiem looked like it was going to be good. The Strauses talked a good game, too. They promised a hard R rating. They promised to use physical effects for the creatures with minimal CGI. They promised the movie would be everything the first one wasn't. While they did at least deliver for the most part on all that, what they didn't promise was that they'd actually light the film so we could see what the hell was going on. Before I get into the dark dreary details, let's take a look at the storyline.
Aliens Vs. Predator: Requiem begins right after the events of the first film (couldn't we just have made believe that didn't happen?) with the PredAlien bursting through the chest of the Leno-chinned Predator whom we all came to hate. This gnarly little beast runs rampant on every Pred onboard the ship, thus causing it to crash to Earth in Colorado. From there facehuggers escape into the populace, aliens are hatched, and the shit hits the fan. Good thing another Predator is on its way to clean up this mess. Armed with Blue Shit™ that makes everything disappear and some cool weaponry, our hero creature quickly dispatches every Xenomorph he sees until its final showdown with the PredAlien. Throw some humans into the mix for gore value, and wham-mo instant sequel. For more on the story and the film, check out our AVPissed edition of Dinner for Fiends!
All I wanted was this ... Aliens fighting Predators and gore. At this point I didn't even care about a good storyline. That would have been great, but it seemed liked wishful thinking. Just give me some carnage, man! The red band trailer had me pumped until I realized it was also one of the film's undoings. Here's a hint to some industry folks: You may not want to show ninety percent of the good stuff in your movie in the trailer. Whose idea was this? What should have been a tease was more or less the whole enchilada! Things couldn't get worse. Could they?
I have sat through Aliens Vs. Predator: Requiem at least five times (this last time with every light in my house out); yet, I feel like I haven't seen it once. Why, you ask? Because for whatever reason the film is so dark you can barely make out what's going on. The great Daniel Pearl worked on this flick! How this happened is beyond me. Words alone can't accurately describe what I'm talking about. You have to see it for yourself. Or, in this case, not see it for yourself. I've included nine screencaps for you that are prime examples of what I mean. These images were not tampered with in any way. It's not even like I went out of my way to find the darkest ones that I could. These stills are from main shots from the film. Scenes in which the camera held on these moments for more than a few seconds. Even parts that take place in the daytime look murkier than a Florida swamp. Given that the Strause brothers come from a visual effects background, why they chose to do this is anyone's guess. It's just plain inexcusable. Click on the teaser images and prepare to stare in disbelief.
Being that this is the unrated edition, I'm sure you're wondering what was added. Here's what you get -- a lot of cool stuff that you can barely see. Some more violence that you can barely make out. And a bit of exposition that fleshes out the story a fraction. The one saving grace here is that there is an added footage marker option that will appear on-screen when there's new stuff to "see". I wish more DVD's would do this. It really is a nifty little extra.
To add insult to injury, the DVD's special features are sure to infuriate you because in the wealth of supplemental stuff you can actually see all the cool things these guys had to work with. Everything you could imagine is here and covered extensively. Several still galleries, several behind-the-scenes featurettes, several "On the Set" type glimpses, and two commentaries. There's certainly enough material to warrant this two-disc set, and Fox in no way skimped on the goodies. Seeing how the creatures were made, the sets fashioned, and the F/X pulled off is both interesting and ultimately heartbreaking. The Hive set? Badass! The look of the creatures? Spot on! Undeniably cool! If only someone would have brought a few bulbs to the set. Maybe a glow stick? Some matches? We could have actually have had something.
In the end Aliens Vs. Predator: Requiem is without question a better film than its predecessor. Anderson's movie had me leaving the theatre wanting to toss my leftover popcorn into the usher's face for allowing me in. I was physically angry. This one? This one reminded me what a good movie it could have been. During the Strause brothers' commentary track they talk about what they thought the fans would be grilling them for. You know, little inconsistencies here and there. Maybe that's why they kept things so stupidly dark, hoping that if we couldn't see it, then we couldn't complain. Guess you can't win, huh guys? There's no question Colin and Greg had their hearts in the right places. It's just too bad they kept their directing skills floating somewhere in deep space along with the debris of the Nostromo.
2 1/2 out of 5
4 out of 5
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