Movie Review for Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007)

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Review #592 of 365
Movie Review of Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007) [R] 86 minutes
WIP™ Scale: $11.00
Where Viewed: United Artists Denver Pavilions Stadium 15, Denver, CO
When Seen: 26 December 2007
Time: 10:20 pm
DVD Release Date: 15 April 2008 (click date to purchase or pre-order)
Film's Official WebsiteFilm's Trailer

Soundtrack: Download now from Brian Tyler - Aliens vs. Predator - Requiem (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) - or - order the CD below

Directed by: The Brothers Strause (16mm Mystery)
Written by: Shane Salerno (Shaft) Alien characters by Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett / Predator characters by Jim Thomas and John Thomas

Featured Cast (Where You Might Remember Him/Her From):
Steven Pasquale ("Rescue Me") • Reiko Aylesworth (Mr. Brooks) • John Ortiz (American Gangster) • Johnny Lewis ("The O.C.") • Ariel Gade ("The Invasion") • Kristen Hager (I'm Not There) • Sam Trammell (What If God Were the Sun?) • Robert Joy (The Hills Have Eyes) • David Paetkau ("Whistler") • Tom Woodruff Jr (Elektra) • Ian Whyte (HP: Goblet of Fire)

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Click to read the spoiler points for Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem
If you're unfamiliar with the Aliens vs. Predator concept, in a nutshell, they represent a comic book fan's dream world scenario sort of like if Spider-Man and Bat-Man teamed up (only these are both sort of 'bad guys'. In this case, the Aliens are the descendents of the original, 1979 deep space horror film Alien directed by Ridley Scott that spawned three sequels: Aliens (by far the best of the entire franchise), Alien 3, and Alien: Resurrection. All four starred Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley who encounters and has to fend off some of the most horrific creatures ever conceived based on the artwork of HR Giger. These films were set in the not too distant future. Meanwhile, Predator was an 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle directed by John McTiernan that featured a brand of ultra-intelligent alien hunters that came to earth for hunting people like some people go to Wyoming to hunt deer. They possessed advanced technology and weaponry including a cloaking mechanism to make them invisible to their prey. Predator was not as successful as the Aliens series and spawned only one sequel, Predator 2 which did not retain Schwarzenegger. Both films were set in the present day. Both series, however, enjoyed popular success in the comic book realm, however, but eventually, it was their combination that really created a lot of buzz. Sort of like, "Who would win? Aliens or Predators?" Eventually, though you might have missed it, an Aliens vs. Predator movie would have to be made. It's a no brainer. Big action, big villains, etc. So, the idea was that the Predators had hidden their ultimate prey in a secret chamber in a pyramid-like temple in Antarctica. Some wayward humans stumble upon the pyramid and release the Aliens and the Predators come to hunt and there's lots of mayhem. The film apparently did well enough to spawn a sequel of its own, this film to be reviewed, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, though most people would probably wonder what the fuss is all about, this is probably the first time in history that a sequel has been made to a film that was a hybrid of two other film franchises (with Predator not quite qualifying for the monikor with just one sequel, yet now with two AvP sequels, it sort of does).

The first thing to like about Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem is the name and the tag line. Any film with the word 'requiem' which means, in this case, "a song or hymn of mourning composed or performed as a memorial to a dead person", in the title, has got to be good, right? Recall, Requiem for a Dream, for example. As for the tag line which began appearing on posters, "This Christmas there will be no peace on Earth," what's not to love about the creativity of that line? Well, other than the obvious fact that many within the Christian faith are growing weary of seeing one of their most sacred holidays being used in movie tag lines. The second thing to like is the story. Now, it might sound odd to be heralding a story about Aliens and Predators when there are brilliant scripts out there like the one for Juno or Lars and the Real Girl or even Walk Hard, but give this one a small chance to present its case. What the writer, Shane Salerno, has done with this opportunity is to create a rather compelling fable. And what better time for fables, then the winter holiday season. The fable serves to remind we mere humans of a number of important life lessons. No, these are not new lessons. Are there new lessons? The lessons have been taught time and again, but they bear repeating, since, it seems, some people don't ever learn them. More on this in a bit.

The story begins in the present. The Predators have gotten a bit cocky about themselves—I'm sort of extrapolating this from their behavior. They seem to feel they've tamed or at least contained the Aliens, keeping face-huggers, as they're known, in tanks on board their ships. The face-hugger is an amazingly adept biological adaptation of the Aliens species. The creature, which emerges from an egg looking a lot like a Caucasian flesh covered spider with a longish tail, has but one task in life, and it generally executes that mission with surgery-like precision. It seeks out a host, latches onto the face, hence face-hugger, wraps its tail around the neck, and implants an embryo for the Aliens into the host. Approximately 12-24 hours later, after an incubation period, the embryo emerges by blasting through the chest of the host—a process now parodied in so many horror films most people forget where it came from—and running away down the corridor seeking darkness and food. Humans, by the way, make for excellent hosts. Well, on this particular ship, we see the Predators sort of operating the ship, and etc. until something goes wrong, adult-stage Aliens are loose, and bad things start to happen on board which cause the ship that had been close to earth to crash. Which is does in the Rocky Mountains close to the town of Gunnison, CO approximately 161 miles directly west of Pueblo, CO or skiers may know it to be about 30 miles south of Crested Butte, CO. Just before it crashes, the ship's logs are transmitted to the Predator Home World. The crash kills all on board, except, of course, the face-huggers who immediately escape the ship to seek out prey. Which they find, all too quickly, in the form of a hunter and his young son—both of whom get, sadly, hugged. Back on the Predator Home World, a decision is made to send a 'clean-up' operative, known to the writer and director as "The Wolf" (Ian Whyte) to make this unpleasant incident disappear. After all, the Predators have been enjoying their hunting operations all over the galaxy, and they don't want the earthlings to be getting too suspicious. What could be worst then us finding their ship and enduring an Alien infestation? So, yes, Aliens vs. Predator since only one will be sent to clean up the entire mess. He's so 'sick' that surely he can do the job. This affords the convergence, once again, of humans, Aliens, and the Predator, for humans, start to notice when their spouse and son fail to return. And, with Aliens blasted out of their chests, they are not likely to return. The emerged aliens metamorph into their adult state quickly and coach more face-huggers attack and implant a band of homeless folks living in a sewer tunnel spreading the infestation quickly. The Sheriff Morales (John Ortiz) sends out a search party for the missing hunter, but he soon as bigger problems on his hands. His high school buddy, Dallas (Steven Pasquale) has just returned from a stint in prison, but he's turned over a new leaf. His younger brother, Ricky (Johnny Lewis), however seems likely to follow in his elder's footsteps despite his affection for on-again off-again girlfriend Jesse (Kristen Hager). The final important cast member is Kelly, a military officer on leave, Kelly (Reiko Aylesworth) who's daughter, Molly (Ariel Gade) will provide the signature scream for the Alien's side of things when she first sees an adult-stage Alien. As "The Wolf" arrives on earth, he begins his mission of eradicating any trace of the Predator ship and Alien infestation. As Dallas arrives, he will try to see how he fits into his old town given his criminal record and troubled younger brother. As the Aliens are present, they will try to reproduce and take over a new territory literally teaming with unsuspecting hosts. They will also be able to do something new, they sill be able to implant dozens of embryos themselves as adults into pregnant woman without the need of face-huggers—something we fans of the films have not seen before. Normally a queen is cultivated who lays thousands of eggs in warm, humid chamber, and who later serves as Ripley's chief nemesis to be blown out an airlock into deep space. See the spoiler for full and complete details to what else happens and the ending.

So, as for the fable. While being an obvious fable on the surface of good vs. evil, though given the triangular nature of the story, who's good and who's evil is never as clear. The take home lesson goes back to man's notion that he might be able to control nature. Anytime we get too cocky about that, nature deals us a fatal blow. Less obvious to those that do not know the history of the specific material, though, goes back to the original Aliens films. They come from a time when powerful and shameless corporations rule earth. One of these goes so far as to try to bring back one of the Aliens for analysis paying no attention to the potential dangers just one let loose could kill millions of innocent people. When viewed strictly as a horror film, Alien and Aliens are two of the best ever made, but they are equally chilling due to the elements they rely upon whereby human greed and the benefits of a few outweigh logic and the benefits of the many. AvP: Requiem pays homage to these films, that would come after in the mythology of the story line, by making a special reference at the end which helps to explain, maybe, the certain advantages in technological resources one company gets out of this incident and the potential for reverse engineering. The military solution for the problem that arises in the film, namely, that a small town is overrun with a deadly alien intruder, also proves to be an interesting lesson for all, the moral of which is, don't wait, if your town's infested, get out and fast. And, don't believe messages that say, "Go to the center of town for an airlift evacuation."In AvP: Requiem, The Brothers Strause (Colin and Greg) deliver a surprisingly good film given that it's the sequel to the hybrid of four sequels. One might believe that pretty much everything that could have been done has been done. Part of the reason the film over-achieves is that the writing and the characters are not as cliché as they could have been. Too many horror films give audiences no reason to care about the people being chased by the homicidal character to the point of them cheering on the homicidal character often the most well-drawn and painted in the story. On the contrary, Shane Salerno has quickly given just enough back story to make us care a bit more about the people. Clearly, Kelly was a dedicated and devoted solider. Her daughter has missed out on her for most of her life.

… a surprisingly good film given that it's the sequel to the hybrid of four sequels.
There is pain on both sides associated with this. Dallas clearly loves his little brother, and without that much spoken between them, it's easy to see his deep regret that his brother might ever admire him or turn out like him. No, this is not On Golden Pond. Neither is it, though, the typical schlock of horror sequels. It does have more obvious appeal to those who are 'into' the mythology of one or both of these sci-fi horror lines, and the film's story might fail a bit there in not weaving more of that into this one somehow. True, the film is better than expected partly because the expectations for this kind of movie are generally pretty low. But, it's also because the special effects are not over done, the Aliens as always are amazing, the gadgets of the Predator are cool, and the pacing and tension were appropriate. The outcome is a film viable of being worthy of the Alien lineage, though this one is nothing on the same order when it comes to the original two Alien films. If it could lead to a third AvP film, however, that would find a way to rekindle the true and lasting sense of horror of dread and bring in perhaps Ripley's great-grandmother as the heroine of the film, then there might be a fitting capstone and end to the series and this would be seen as a fine transition and way of setting that up.

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Cast Members
Steven PasqualeReiko AylesworthJohn Ortiz
Johnny LewisAriel GadeKristen Hager
Sam TrammellRobert JoyDavid Paetkau
Tom Woodruff Jr
The Brothers Strause
Shane Salerno
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Review-lite Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007) [max of 150 words]
The Brothers Strause rekindle the story in this sequel to AvP which finally united in film the mythologies of the Predator and Alien universes as they had been in comic books for years. A Predator ship overrun with Aliens crashes in the mountains fo Colorado near Gunnison. Aliens escape and begin to overtake the town, while a Predator 'Clean-Up' man is sent to eliminate evidence of the incursion. Shane Salerno writes a better script with better human characters than the genre typically has gotten since the great days of the first two Alien films—still regarded as the most frightening and dread-filled, sci-fi horror films of all time. Part fable, this film offers up some good lessons while serving as a worthy basis for transition to what might be the best of the AvP films to come.

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