Recently I purchased a box set of DVDs. It contained the following:
Alien vs. Predator
Alien vs. Predator: Requiem
And just so I had everything, I bought a copy of Predators.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve subjected myself to these movies. I chose to watch them in the order in which they were released. And now, dear readers, I subject you to my thoughts on these movies.
The first Alien movie is a slow burn. It was made at a time when the audience had this thing called patience. So you slowly got to know this tiny crew who stumble upon an Alien nest. The tagline for this movie was ‘In Space No One Can Hear You Scream’. It’s a quiet little sci-fi horror movie that just works. I hadn’t seen the movie in so long that it was like I watched it for the first time and it was really enjoyable.
I tend to like James Cameron movies and not just because we share a last name. With Aliens he had a hard job. How do you top something like Alien? The answer is by not trying to. He didn’t try to make a better version of the last movie which is what so many sequels end up being. Instead he took what had come before and used it to launch the lone survivor 57 years into the future. Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley is the only human alive who has faced these things and when her a bunch of Space Marines return to the planet, people start dying off like last time, but unlike last time, we’re talking about heavily armed soldiers. The final battle between Ripley and the alien queen is one of the classic battles in cinema history and solidified Ripley as one of the first and best female action heroes.
Out of all the movies in the set, I probably watched this one the most. As a comic book reader, this felt a lot like Sgt. Fury & His Howling Commandos vs. a monster. Plus it was made back when Arnold Swarzenegger was making really fun action movies. A special ops team gets dropped into a jungle. They encounter a creature who picks them off one by one. It’s like your standard horror movie except instead of high school girls in a cabin, it’s soldiers in a jungle. With lots of quick one-liners and great action sequences, this movie still works over 20 years later.
Predator 2 (1990)
This was an interesting movie. Taking place in 1990 Los Angeles during a heat wave and a major crime war that the police are barely surviving, it seemed almost as if the Predator invaded a movie already in progress. And with Danny Glover as the lead, it could have been Lethal Weapon 3.5 or something. There wasn’t much wrong with Predator 2 and the quick inclusion of an Alien skull was a nice little touch. At the same time, it wasn’t nearly the movie that the first one was and it’s not really a surprise that the it took 20 years for the next Predator movie to come out.
Alien 3 (1992)
The last time I saw this movie was when it was in the theater and I have to be honest. I really, really hated it. The idea of crashing Ripley on a prison planet with an Alien made little to no sense to me. And compared to what had gone before, it was just a bad, bad movie. So when I watched it recently I really wasn’t expecting anything. So I was pleasantly surprised that it was actually very watchable. Unfortunately, it didn’t really add anything to the franchise. And the ending still didn’t really work for me.
Alien: Resurrection (1997)
If Alien 3 was a mess, Alien: Resurrection was an attempt to clean up the mess. There are good things in the movie. (Winona Rider as a bad ass space pirate? Hell yes.) But there are a lot of bad things. It seemed confused as to what it wanted to be as a movie so while it still manages to be an okay movie, everything about it seems to say that it could have been a hell of a lot better.
AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004)
I had avoided this movie for years. I had heard really bad things. But hey, it came with the box set. I did my best to go in with an open mind. Unfortunately AVP took this opportunity to solidify every bad thing I’d heard about this movie. There are almost no redeeming qualities about this movie. It seems to forget every good thing that happened in either franchise. It gets some of the basic rules of the monsters wrong. Almost the entire movie takes place in Antarctica and the Predators are known for only liking warm climates. The concept of the Predators being worshipped in ancient times is laughable. Poking holes in this movie is like poking holes in that plastic wrap over a frozen dinner. Though I now own this movie, I know it will never again be put in the DVD player by me.
AVP 2: Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem (2007)
Picking up right where the outright horrible AVP left off, this movie manages to be original in either franchise in that it’s actually boring. Say what you will about the other movies, they aren’t dull. This one ends up having more in common with Gremlins than any Alien or Predator movie. The problem being Gremlins was funny and this is anything but. This could easily have been the first movie in history to kill TWO franchises at once.
It may be because I watched this directly after AVP2, but Predators was a breath of fresh air. Literally. It starts off with a guy free falling into a jungle unconscious. He wakes up and struggles to get his chute open before hitting the ground. Coincidentally, this is exactly how I felt about both franchises after watching all of the movies so far. The quality was plummeting at an incredible rate. Luckily I landed in Predators. A random group of bad asses land in an unknown jungle for unknown purpose. They have the blind luck of all speaking English, but other than that, the rest of the movie holds together remarkably well. As not one but three Predators go after them, the stakes get higher and higher and their hope of survival continues to disintegrate. It really was the perfect way to end this set of movies with just a bit of hope that whatever comes next will match this quality.
– Jack Cameron