Monday, November 25, 2013

AVP: Requiem


  Many may disagree with me, but I think AVP: Requiem, in the whole of the Alien and Predator franchises, steals the trophy for worst movie of all from Alien Resurrection. I didn't think so the first two times I saw it, but I'm more than convinced now. Resurrection is the much maligned fourth entry in the the Alien franchise, and while it's no doubt the worst of all four, it had it's moments. The crew of "The Betty" was fun to watch, in the same way the cast from Predators is fun to watch. It seems like nobody gets along, and that's kinda funny to me. There was also the virtuoso underwater scene that still looks awesome to this day. Even the weird scene with the failed clones was twisted in a really cool way. Bear with me...

  My point is, that even the worst movie of both franchises had moments worth not changing the channel on. Even I pop it in every so many years if I'm marathoning the movies. Sure it was a shitty sequel that felt alien to it's own franchise, but it wasn't a horrible movie on it's own right. Just... not wholly good either. I'm not here to make enemies by making excuses for Resurrection, the point I've been getting to is that Requiem has no redeeming moments. None. There is not one moment in the movie that I could sit back and say... okay... now that's cool. Even a movie as shitty as Resurrection had moments like that! First off, this movie repeats the cardinal sin of the previous movie. It makes an infestation of xenomorphs (a.k.a. aliens. Duh. Keep up with the lingo!) on Earth seem underwhelming as hell. This movie isn't scary. At all. Period. That's a problem when you have one of cinema's most iconic and nightmare inducing creatures infesting an entire town.

  Second MAJOR issue. The lighting. What the actual hell? This movie is so dark, I thought something was wrong with my TV. The directors must've gotten their shit mixed up. Darkness doesn't necessarily equal scariness or suspense. In fact, if used properly it's used to augment a suspenseful scene by keeping your imagination racing about what you can't see. Unfortunately, there's no way in hell that would work for a movie in this franchise at this point. Both the xenomorph and the yautjas (aliens and predators) have been visually exposed already. There's no mystery to the audience about what they're going to see. We want to see these creatures clash, and fight. Lemme repeat, we want to SEE them fight. Not muck about in dark sewers and trip over rubble and shit. Good god, the sole light source in every scene seems to be either behind or on the side of everything, and fifty feet away. It ends up only highlighting the profile of people and the creatures. I don't fucking know how they also managed to make scenes in the middle of the damn day look just as dark. Absolute technical incompetence. At least I hope it was. If this was by design, this directorial duo... "the Brothers Strauss" are even bigger fuck ups than I thought.

  Speaking of technical incompetence, the xenomorphs in this movie look like crap. Paul W.S. Anderson had some slick looking brawl-ready xenos in his AVP movie. In this one, they literally look like dudes in rubber suits. The faces have lost articulation, there's no visual flair to them at all, and honestly... I don't think Greg nor Colin Strauss gave a shit. The xenomorphs are treated like a minor... secondary thing in this movie. They pose NO threat to the predator, who's content to bitch slap each one who gets in his way until the big fucking Predalien comes along and knocks him on his ass, breaking his kill streak. This exact scenario seems to happen over and over. Normally I don't get this profane in my reviews, but for the first time, I'm legitimately angry with this movie. It's not mere discontent. It's pretty much anger.

  Next issue? The plot. A predator ship, carrying xenomorph facehuggers- wait wait wait... we're still hung up on that? I've always hated the idea that predators breed their own prey. It's just a lazy way to put the two species together on film. Anyways... A predator ship, more specifically, the one from the end of the last movie... (with the xeno laden corpse of the Scar Predator) carrying loads of xenomorph facehuggers crash lands on Earth after the alien/predator hybrid hatches from the Scar Predator's chest and kills a bunch of other predators. (They apparently didn't leave orbit fast enough? Why did they end up back on Earth anyways? The trajectory is all wrong and NO it's not a fanboy gripe.) So the ship lands in America conveniently, cause... doesn't everything? It lands in a small town called Gunnison, Colorado. Then shit hits the fan. Only not for... over 45 minutes. Drag. This time is populated with lots of teenage high school drama. a protagonist's issue with being a pizza delivery boy, and the fact he likes a blonde chick who dates a douchebag jock. Bore. What the hell even? Who said this was shit to put in an AVP movie?

  Not to mention, it doesn't endear any of the protagonists to us remotely, and nobody's acting is good enough for us to even give a shit anyways! The ones who have competent acting, are given the lamest character arcs, and again we can't muster a shit to give. Horrible characters. Calling them two dimensional, would be insulting to two dimensional characters, and buddy... that's hard to do. The plot gets dumber. Hang in there. The predator in this movie, comes all the way from the predator homeworld to clean up the xeno outbreak basically. Why? I dunno. It's his job? Do they have jobs...? I thought they were all hunters? Is he hunting? No. He's doing damage control. Why? I dunno. Does he care about humans? No. He kills them too. Doesn't give a shit about humans. Even takes the time to skin a dude. Why? I thought he wasn't hunting! He's not. Then why does he skin him? I dunno. See how this works...? Ass-loads of "I dunno".  Apparently the Strauss brothers call him the "Wolf" Predator, after Winston Wolf from Pulp Fiction who cleans up Vincent and Jules' little dilemma. God, what an insult to Pulp Fiction, Harvey Keitel, Winston Wolf, and Quentin Tarantino. Jeez.

  Now for my one paragraph of compliments to the movie. Amazingly, by the last twenty minutes, you're so numb to the movie's bullshit, that you actually find yourself hoping a few of these cardboard characters don't die. The really insufferable ones you really wanted to die? They die. Horrible painful deaths. Yay! The archetypical good guy characters, most of them live. Yay! The Wolf Predator himself, has some cool gadgets, and wears dual plasma casters on his back.... which... is decidedly badass. He gets to kill a pair of stoners with them too. It was a scene that elicited more laughs than it probably should have. The Predator, despite his bullshity plot function, is actually the sole highlight of the movie. He does what a predator should do. He hunts, and kills, and fucks shit up with all his cool gadgets. Furthermore, the last twenty minutes, in the hospital was surprisingly not bad. We could actually see what was going on at times, and there was lots of alien on predator fights, and people died, and it was cool. Not remotely cool enough to make up for the rest of the bullshitty movie, but it was alright.

  All the competence Greg and Colin could possibly muster went directly into two things, making the predator look as badass as humanly possible, and making the last 20 minutes somewhat watchable. Or maybe I'm actually giving them too much credit as... whenever the badass predator does something badass, it's obscured in fucking darkness, and maybe the last twenty minutes wasn't watchable- maybe I was just so brainwashed by the horribleness I was numb to the last twenty minutes of awfulness. Either way, amazingly, I don't regret watching it. It's a firm guidepost on how much more you can go wrong (from the previous AVP), and how making something rated R, doesn't make it any better, and it shall stand as a warning of everything to not do in an AVP movie for future filmmakers. The predator himself is cool, and him blasting away at xenos is cool, it makes good B-roll footage if I wanted something on while I drew a picture, or wrote a paper, and didn't want to dignify something with my full attention. It would make for great white noise. I would also love to say I'd like to see a new AVP movie, because you can't get worse than this... but somehow, the universe might take that as a dare.

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