AVP: Alien Vs. Predator

AVP: Alien Vs. Predator (2004)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Cast: Lance Henriksen, Sanaa Lathan
Extras: Commentary Tracks, Featurette, Delete Scenes, Galleries

I will be upfront with you. I was no fan of "Predator 2" or "Alien 3" or "Alien: Resurrection" for that matter. These films reeked of sequelitis and utter uninspiredness. So when I approached "Alien Vs. Predator" I did so very carefully. Since I’m not a big Paul Anderson fan either I did not expect much and was quite surprised to find a movie that at the very least entertained me without insulting my intelligence on every corner, which for today’s horror/action fare is quite an accomplishment.

The story takes an approach that is quite interesting in that it doesn’t "accidentally" pair Aliens and Predators with each other. Setting a very cool premise that makes the encounter absolutely plausible, especially in respect to the legacy of each franchise, the film begins painting a picture in which a wealthy industrialist Charles Bishop (Lance Henriksen) discovers a strange pyramid-like structure deep under the ice of Antarctica. He sets up a team of scientists to travel there to claim the discovery as his, and to find out what it is. Soon however they learn that some things are better left untouched.

Stylistically "Alien Vs. Predator" borrows a lot from John Carpenter’s "The Thing" having the same atmosphere, look and shots that could almost have been borrowed from Carpenter’s movie. However the film also adds a lot of high tech gadgetry and computer generated special effects, of course, to create a more contemporary flair. It works pretty well and the fact that both Aliens and Predators remain hidden for a significant portion of the film adds additional suspense to the film. Once they are unleashed they are as glorious as you’ve ever seen the specimen turning the humans into little more than fish bait. As the story unfolds and pieces fall into place the viewer will more and more experience a sense of wonder until finally the full scope of the premise is revealed. While the film is clearly targeted at younger audiences instead of the franchise core demographics I found it still fun to watch and enjoyed it quite a bit. It is not nearly as menacing as either "Alien" or "Predator" and with its flashy MTV-style editing the director destroys all chances of real suspense and unease, but it is still intriguing enough to hold you attention as you try to figure out what exactly is going on.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is presenting "Alien Vs. Predator" in its original 2.35:1 <$PS,widescreen> aspect ratio on this DVD in a transfer that is <$16x9,enhanced for 16x9> TV sets. The image is absolutely clean without any speckles or defects and only a minimal amount of grain in select shots. Colors are strong and the faithful, making sure the bright icy environments are as nicely delineated as the darkest interior and night shots. Black levels are solid giving the image good depth and maintaining very good shadow detail. No edge-enhancement distracts from the viewing pleasure and the compression is also without noticeable flaws.

The audio on the release is very impressive featuring a <$5.1,5.1 channel> <$DD,Dolby Digital> track as well as a <$DTS,DTS> track. The surround use is very aggressive in this film, assaulting the viewer from all directions from virtually the first to the last frame. Spatial delineation is great, especially in the DTS version where you can perfectly pinpoint sound sources in the sound field. The dynamic range of the tracks is also impressive giving your home theater something good to work with. The frequency response is bombastic to say the least, covering everything from the lowest sub-harmonics to the highest ends without distortion. Dialogues are well integrated and always understandable even in heavy-hitting action scenes.

As an extra the DVD contains two audio <$commentary,commentary track>s. The first features the director and cast members, focusing mostly on the production of the film as a whole. The second one is more special effects centric featuring some of the special effects folks talking about the approach they took to this movie and how various shots have been realized.

In addition, the DVD contains deleted scenes as well as a "Making Of" featurette – though the latter plays more like an EPK promoting the film rather than giving a real behind-the-scenes look at the production. You’ll also find galleries on the DVD with alternate cover images as well as a look at the forthcoming Dark Horse comic.

"Alien Vs. Predator" was a pleasant surprise as a whole. It is an enjoyable film. Sure it’s not perfect and it’s not the kind of landmark film that initially launched these franchises but nonetheless for some brainless bombastic scifi action entertainment "Alien Vs. Predator" definitely makes the grade.