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  • 8/22/2004

Alien Vs. Predator pleasant sci-fi surprise

Alien Vs. Predator -- the title alone suggests it's destined to be among the worst movies of the year. The heavyweight championship of sci-fi, the movie pits the slimy alien species that Sigourney Weaver first fought in 1979's Alien against the far more advanced but no less murderous alien species that stalked Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1987"s Predator.

Of course, placing movie monsters that first starred in their own series in the same film has been done many times, a few examples being Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, a classic from 1943, and 2003"s Freddy vs. Jason.

Like the latter film, Alien Vs. Predator is much better than one might expect. Placing two monsters in the same film gives both movies added layers of complexity and interest. It also helps that Alien Vs. Predator has been co-written by original Alien screenwriter Dan O'Bannon.

Alien Vs. Predator adheres to the once innovative Alien model that requires a female hero. Sanaa Lathan steps into Weaver's alien-fighter shoes. A freelance guide to dangerous places, the tough Lathan doesn't put up with any stuff. And if the big corporation-sponsored explorers she guides in Antarctica had just listened to her, they wouldn't be in quite the fix they're in.

Lathan is part of an expedition sent to Antarctica by a billionaire industrialist (Lance Henriksen). His satellite has spotted a "heat bloom" 2,000 feet below the ice. Experts on the team determine the heat bloomed from a pyramid shape. The team intends to drill through the ice to reach the pyramid but, upon arrival at the site, finds a hole has already been dug. What's more, no machinery on Earth is capable of drilling such an excellent ice tunnel in a mere 24-hour period.

Lathan and her fellow explorers simply use the tunnel, barely questioning the mystery of its sudden appearance. That's a flaw in the script, but the real point of the conveniently dug, existing tunnel is to quickly get the naive humans in place for their nightmare scenario. They discover the pyramid is an ever-shrinking maze of tunnels and collapsing walls.

Given the fate waiting for most of the Weyland Industries party, being lost in the pyramid is the least of their problems. More seriously, a growing population of freshly hatched Alien aliens and a trio of Predator aliens are on the hunt.

An adage perfectly expresses the twist in the story that offers some light at the end of the tunnel: The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Lathan, the female protagonist following in Sigourney Weaver's footsteps, benefits most from an unusual alliance, stepping up to the alien-blasting plate with similar grit.

Director Paul W.S. Anderson, whose credits include Resident Evil, Event Horizon and Soldier, coordinates suspenseful tight spots for the humans and elaborate fights between the aliens. Surprisingly, Alien Vs. Predator is not goofy.

Taken From:http://www.2theadvocate.com/stories/082004/ent_avp001.shtml

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