Thursday, August 19, 2004

Movie: Alien vs. Predator

Posted on Thu, Aug 19, 2004 at 4:00 AM

***1/2

Our Rating: 3.50

Director Paul W.S. Anderson (Event Horizon, Resident Evil) is fast becoming a master of genre-recombinant guilty pleasures, and Alien vs. Predator is the apotheosis of his embarrassingly enjoyable approach to source poaching. Led by a multi-culti Ripley replacement named Alexa (Sanaa Lathan), a crew of scientists goes to the Arctic and discovers a huge below-ice pyramid, in which the titular Reagan-era monster icons are about to start duking it out. The intergalactic Third World revenge subtext of the original Predator (which had dreadlocked alien jungle warriors kicking Schwarzenegger-ian Eurobutt) becomes literal text as – amidst Cambodian, Aztec and Egyptian pyramid wall carvings – Alexa buddies up with Predator to battle their shared, acid-blooded nemesis. Anderson gleefully answers every fanboy/girl's geekazoidal "What if?", with monster throw-downs skillfully shot in easily parsed, post-Matrix hyperaction. AvP fairly bulges with screwloose invention: The pyramid is like a gigantic, sadistic Rubik's cube, adding mucho tension as it attempts to crush our heroes. There's an epic (and casually blasphemous) backstory, in-on-the-joke-awful dialogue and a jaw-droppingly lame/awesome Predator sky dance (!). Best of all, FX kingpins Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr. largely eschew CGI, instead using big-ass alien puppets possessed of real gravity. Anderson clearly relished making this wonderful, utterly silly film; his heart shows in every drip of slime.

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