Alien vs Predator: Requiem brings the warring aliens back to planet Earth, but it doesn’t go well for anyone, including the viewer!
Regular readers of my retro reviews will know that the Alien and Predator franchises are some of my favourite science fiction films.
So when it was announced that Paul Anderson was directing a film which would finally see the two creatures clash in a live action film (they’d already been fighting in comic books for years), I was understandably excited.
As it goes, Alien vs Predator, released in 2007, wasn’t too bad. It has problems, but I really like it, except for the unrated extended cut which tries to make it gorier with CGI blood, and it just looks fake, avoid that one.
It must have performed fairly well at the box office, as 20th Century Fox gave the green light to another film featuring the two franchises.
2011 saw the release of Alien v Predator: Requiem (AVP:R) directed by two brothers, Greg and Colin Strause. Their careers in the film industry started with digital visual effects in The X-Files, and from there they have gone from strength to strength. Some of their most recent work includes Rampage, Geostorm and Stranger Things.
This all sounded very promising, especially as the brothers Strause said they were going to make the films more violent again, no more of this PG-13 nonsense.
I remember seeing the film on release and purchasing the Blu-ray as well, but as with all these Retro Reviews, I haven’t seen the film since, almost ten years ago.
Alien vs Predator: Requiem picks up right from the end of the previous film, a Predator had been infected by an alien facehugger, and we witness the birth of an Alien/Predator hybrid known by fans as the Predalien.
Before the Predator ship can leave Earth’s orbit, the Predalien has grown full size (Uh! More on this later) and attacks one of the Predator crew. Another crewmate arrives in time to witness the attack and tries to kill the Predalien with his shoulder mounted plasma cannon.
The town Sheriff, he’s not really up to the job!
Unfortunately, the Predalien dodges the attack and the stray plasma bolt rips a hole in the side of the spaceship. This causes the spacecraft to malfunction and fall back to Earth, where it crash lands in the forests of Gunnison, Colorado.
Another Predator residing on their home world (somewhere we’ve never seen on film before), receives the distress call. They suit up, collect an array of weaponry and set off for planet Earth.
The Predalien survives the crash along with several facehuggers that were part of the Predator’s ship inventory, they all escape into the forest.
Nearby, a father and son who gone hunting witness the crash and go to investigate, and it’s not long before they become victims of the facehuggers.
The fight between the three species will soon begin.
Alien vs Predator: Requiem starts out as a science fiction film with good intentions, but it all fell apart quite quickly.
I have issues with seeing a child become victim to a facehugger attack. As a fan of the franchise, I’m pretty sure we’ve seen it happen in comics and novelizations, but to see it live action made me a little nauseas, especially when we see the chest burster emerge.
Then the film changes tack and turns into a teenage slasher film. We are introduced to a group of teenagers with a typical setup. The rough kid no one really likes is attracted to the girlfriend of the high school jock. Nothing original there.
Meanwhile, the remaining facehuggers have attacked a group of tramps who are using the sewers under the town as their home. This plays incredibly fast and loose with the franchise rules.
The Predalien and the normal aliens seem to have matured into their adult forms in just a few hours. This doesn’t ring true to the previous films in the franchise where it takes a lot longer and as a fan, it makes for annoying viewing.
“Just one kiss, oh go on!”
A hospital scene, which again breaks franchise rules, is worse than the aforementioned child/facehugger scene mentioned earlier.
The Predalien comes across a heavily pregnant woman in the hospital, its movements imply that it recognizes this as well. Rather than kill her, it uses its inner jaw to lay eggs within her, which we see moving down her throat.
Then a little later, we are witness to the screaming woman, chestbursters erupting from her stomach, presumably having already attacked (and possibly eaten?) the unborn child.
Again, for me, this is stepping over the line for the type of horror and scares that these franchises are known for. I feel that the brothers Strause are just going all out to try and shock and repulse the audience.
Plus, the laying of the eggs via the woman’s mouth and throat is something that breaks franchise rules, as neither creature has shown any signs of being able to do this beforehand.
Also, there’s something about the way the aliens are captured on film here that makes them look less threatening than in previous films. For reasons I can’t really explain, they come across as “men in suits” in this entry of the franchise, and that’s when you can see them!
AvP:R has a reputation for being dark, literally, and it’s no joke. The film soon turns to night as the story progresses, it rains heavily as well. Whilst I’m sure this was intended for atmospheric effect, it just makes everything quite hard to see, especially the climatic fight between Predalien and Predator where it is almost impossible to see what is actually happening.
It also has a detrimental effect on our leading bad guy as well. The Predalien is a large alien creature with the mandibles and dreadlocks of the Predator creature. Whilst this sculpting work is impressive in bright studio lit material from behind the scenes, it’s lost on film.
The darkness of the picture means the Predalien is seen almost in silhouette throughout the film, and this gives the impression that it has an oversized head, much like the awful Funko Pop figurines. For me, it detracted my enjoyment from the film even further.
The teen romance is set up early in the film, but that’s not what we’re here for.
Is there anything positive about Aliens vs Predator: Requiem? Well, yes, I think the winner in this feature is the single Predator creature in the film. They’re more fun to watch than the human cast, it’s one of the best designed Predators to feature on screen so far, and features a new range of alien technology for hunting alien prey.
Whilst the human cast aren’t necessarily bad actors, they are fodder for the battling creatures to tear apart and kill. Most of them, obviously, won’t make it through to the end.
I feel that the brothers Strause treated this film like overexcited fanboys who wanted to include every idea they’ve had and stick it up on screen.
The film feels out of tone with the rest of the franchise and really harks back to the horror films of the eighties such as Nightmare On Elm St. and Friday the 13th, where each successive sequel tried to be more frightening and gorier than the last.
Alien vs Predator: Requiem may be fun and entertaining to the straight-up horror fan, but as a franchise aficionado, I liked the story but wasn’t impressed with the execution and franchise rule breaking. And that’s when I could see what was happening too!
For Alien and Predator fans, you may enjoy this, but it’s disappointing. Maybe for newcomers who prefer a straight horror based experience.