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  Alien vs. Predator
Paul W. S. Anderson, USA, 2004
Rating: 3.0
 

Posted: August 20, 2004

Editor's Note: For the ultimate sci-fi B-movie-monster face-off, we thought it'd be fun to pit our two B-movie reviewers, Clemenza and Vincenzo, against each other in a verbal grudge match. Shows what we know. Warning: Some spoilers ahead. -- Kevin Forest Moreau, Head Zookeeper

By Clemenza & Vincenzo

Clemenza: So, my shiny-pated understudy. AVP. You saw it. I saw it. Although not together.

Vincenzo: No, I sat on the other side of the theater. I didn't want to have to bring an umbrella to save me from your uncontrollable drooling.

Clemenza: Careful, Son of Paul Shaffer. You may have been a bodyguard to the stars, but don't forget I've got a past of my own.

Vincenzo: Yeah, yeah, I've read your bio on the Shaking Through staff page. It mentions your alleged mob ties. It also mentions how you're, you know, how do I say this... Oh, yeah: HIDING like a little girl. Color me scared.

Clemenza: That would explain the yellow stains in your wardrobe. So anyway, we're here to offer our critical opinions on this eagerly anticipated cage match. And, well, uh, it was not without its "charms," I suppose. Shall we quickly recap the plot, CPO Sharkey?

Vincenzo: After you, my shady, lounge-singer-looking rival.

Clemenza: No problem, Cueball. Hey, Moreau! Be sure to fill in any blanks we may skip over! Earn your keep for a change, Editor Monkey! So anyway, the movie takes place in the present day, or should I say the present day-after-tomorrow: October 2004. A satellite scan has found some strange pyramid under the ice in Antarctica. Bad-ass Lance Henriksen plays the head of the Weyland corporation--

Vincenzo: Which later on becomes the company that sends Ripley [Sigourney Weaver's character in the Alien movies -- "Editor Monkey" Moreau] into space. That was pretty cool. And I liked how Henriksen's middle name was Bishop, and he's considered a pioneer in robotics, setting up the fact that you have these androids named Bishop that look like Henriksen later on.

Clemenza: Yeah, yeah, and in one scene you see Lance playing with a knife, trying not to stab himself in the fingers, just like the Bishop robot in Aliens. Very good. Anyway, Henriksen gathers a group of "experts," who are really just Predator and Alien fodder, to go down and investigate this thing. I could tell you the rest, but then you might not go see the film, and from what I saw on screen, these people need all the help they can get. Suffice it to say, the humans become the unlucky meat filling in an Alien and Predator sandwich.

Vincenzo: Wow, that was... poetic.

Clemenza: Yeah, well, your mother belches in iambic pentameter, I thought that was pretty poetic, too.

Vincenzo: You leave my sainted mother out of this!!

Clemenza: Easy, Oedipus! Easy! So what grabbed you most about the film?

Vincenzo: Well, first of all, I dug it. Yeah, it had more holes than Paris Hilton's chastity belt, but I thought it achieved what it was supposed to do. It put these two classic movie icons against each other, and kept the audience's interest. And by the way, Dr. Freud, at least I don't need to hide behind my mommy to protect me from the mobsters I sold up the river like a common stoolie.

Clemenza: Don't hate on me, Junior. There ain't no future in it. Back to the movie: Yeah, it did pit the Aliens and the Predators against each other... eventually. Much like Freddy vs. Jason, the showdown came way too late. As far as I'm concerned, the movie could have started with a Predator holding up a sign with the opening credits, and then smashing it over the Alien's head. And it's on!!! I need immediate gratification. Speaking of which, did you see that geek dressed in a Predator outfit in the theater lobby?

Vincenzo: That was an outfit? I thought that was your twin brother.

Clemenza: Wow, that was clever. Anyway, I kinda "nudged" him down the escalator, and one of his Predator dreadlocks got stuck in the grating. It was a lovely moment. But I digress. You don't think the film needed more AVP action?

Vincenzo: As much as I hate to admit it, you've got a point -- besides the one on your head, that is. The Predators and the Aliens didn't really start going at each other until a good hour into the flick. But I didn't mind the setup. It was a pretty standard B-movie setup, true, but I thought the director managed to keep things fairly interesting. He introduced the stock characters, like the goofy guy who kept showing everyone pictures of his kids -- you know he's gonna get it. And giving Lance Henriksen some kind of disease -- again, maybe setting up why there's a Bishop robot in the second Alien flick.

Clemenza: All very well and good, my follically-challenged counterpart. But I wanted action, up front!

Vincenzo: But you need the humans in the mix, to be terrorized by both the Predators and the Aliens. And to eventually fill in the story of why they're fighting! Plus, you got to see a pretty fair amount of the main character, Sanaa Lathan, running around all sweaty, and brother, there ain't nothing wrong with that! And I dug her palling around with the one Predator at the end, too.

Clemenza: Ah, yes, the story. Why they're fighting. The whole alien pyramid thing. Kind of insulting, really, from a human point of view. Why can't we have built all the pyramids? It was fun in a B-movie kind of way, but as long as you're doing a B-movie, why not just totally indulge in it, instead of waiting 'til the last parts of the film? I say let it be a free-for-all!

Vincenzo: I appreciate what you're saying. But you need setup. Even a Steven Seagal movie is based on a plot. Granted, not much of a plot, usually just a flimsy excuse to introduce some ass-kicking. But I like that. I mean, the scares are great and all -- at least they were great for getting my date to squirm up against me. But build up to them, create some tension. I thought they did that here. And then on TOP of that, introduce something new to the mythology: the whole Predators-as-Gods thing. That didn't thrill me, but I was able to roll with it, and enjoy the Alien-Predator bitch-slap-fest in some kind of context.

Clemenza: The Predators as Gods thing was cool. But the story to get to the pyramid was lame. I'd rather see that time used throwing a Terminator or a dinosaur from Jurassic Park into the mix. But whatever. What didn't you like about the movie?

Vincenzo: I don't think the story to get to the pyramid was lame. What I thought was lame was that they never explained why the pyramid had hieroglyphics and architecture from three different civilizations. Did those three human languages split off from the original Predator language? If so, why can't we understand them when they speak? And while we're at it, why did the Predators have to run on human being time? They come back to Earth every hundred of our years. And the pyramid's layout changed every ten minutes. So the Predators use our calendar and set their watches to our time? That was lame.

Clemenza: I agree. Get your own calendar, you bastards!

Vincenzo: But still, I can overlook all that. What I'd have done differently is the Aliens. Yeah, the explanation that they gave for why the Aliens were there was pretty nice. But monster-wise, they got the short end of the stick. They don't come off looking anywhere near as cool or menacing as the Predators. In the Alien movies, they're scary as all Hell! And they're unstoppable!

Clemenza: Come on now, Vincenzo! The Predators would kick Alien ass! They've got way cool weapons, homes! The Aliens got no lasers. They just leave behind a sticky pile of goo -- kind of like you, now that I think about it.

Vincenzo: Funny, I was gonna say the same thing about your sister. At least she left some behind last night.

Clemenza: Yes, my sister. She's an anthropologist, don'tcha know, sorta like Jane Goodall. Figure it out.

Vincenzo: I thought that was your mom, and the monkey from Friends was your pop. But back to my point: I just think the Aliens should have been built up better. You could have subbed any nasty creature in there and it would have worked.

Clemenza: Yeah, the film is biased toward the Predators. But hey, that's life, brah. The food chain. Like Station and us. We need something from him, we take it. Right? I'll grant you that the Aliens were pretty much a speed bag for the Predators to work over. But even in space, there's a pecking order. Trust me, right now, somewhere, R2D2 is getting his ass kicked by a Cylon. And maybe they could have developed the Aliens a little more, but they didn't have the time. And you know why? 'Cause they wasted the whole first hour of the flick!

Vincenzo: You say tomato, I say...well, I say "tomato," too, actually. Well, there you have it. I thought it was a perfectly fun, afternoon-matinee kind of B-movie.

Clemenza: All in all, AVP is what it is. There ain't nothin' wrong with B-movies. Heck, they get me almost minimum wage around here. I think it could have used some robots, and maybe some Hooters girls, but other than that, I suppose it delivers, eventually. Now, with that said, we gotta do the hard part. Rate the damn thing. What's the word?

Vincenzo: Somewhere in the 3's on the Clemenza scale... "Close, but..."

Clemenza: "Close, but..." indeed. Let it be written. So, you wanna break into Station's office and steal his Knight Rider poster?

Vincenzo: Tell you what: You take the poster, and make sure to snatch the King Dongs from his fridge. I'll stand guard and administer a wedgie if he comes in.

Clemenza: Like I said, bro, nature has its pecking order.

Vincenzo: Then we'll go to the break room and eat the King Dongs while we watch a true classic: Exit Wounds.

Clemenza: Word.

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 Clemenza's Ratings Key:

 5.0: A drop of bliss

 4.0-4.9: Touchdown!
 3.0-3.9: Close, but...
 2.0-2.9: Box of Rocks
 1.1-1.9: Time bandit
 0.0-1.0: Soul scarring
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