Aliens vs Predator: Requiem Review
Written by: thegoldensimatar
Aliens vs Predator: Requiem is a bit of a mixed bag. The screenplay is rather average on account the screenplay is from the man who brought us the screenplay for Shaft. First time filmmakers The Brothers Strause at least are able to bring it up to a level that might please some fans in delivering action mixed with suspense and there is some of the best cinematography of the year in horror. The film is also deliberately paced, nothing feels rushed and nothing feels so dog on slow. The character scenes are evenly paced and don’t lag, action isn’t over rushed and over in a few seconds, a very well paced film. Since the film has just been released I will do my best to keep it spoiler free.
The screenplay by Shane Salerno is average lets say. Though I give Salerno credit for trying his best to bring back the major strength of the first two Alien films, which is of course the characters, he fails to bring much character depth to the people that we see. The characters are the same archetypes we have seen before, the ex-con coming back to town to do right, local sheriff who is in over his head, kid having girl problems, a mother returning from a tour of duty overseas trying to adjust back home. The kid having girl problems, yes my friends, that does equal teenagers and teen drama. Something that is new to the franchises and should be kept out simply because you don’t stick them into the Alien or Predator films. Salerno does try to bring back the human element and characters Anderson setup and glazed over in his AVP, though Salerno fails to do much more than Anderson did. He thankfully sets up a few action set pieces in the screenplay for action, though some folks might be expecting more. Laugh out loud humor also makes an appearance, usually very reserved grin moments in the Alien franchise and Ahunuld’s one liners in Predator there are some good jokes here and there. There are also quite a few references for fans with character dialogue. Also, there is a huge wink wink moment at the end of the film that sets it up for a sequel, in space hopefully. Overall, in my opinion, Fox should have gotten a different writer to pen.
I was initially nervous over getting first time directors to helm this film. Then again thinking back all the directors in both Alien and Predator franchises were first time makers spare for Paul W.S Anderson, Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Stephen Hopkins. The Brothers Strause make a strong directorial debut with Requiemand show their talents as filmmakers. They are able to draw good performances out of their actors, deliver action that is intense and ferocious without relying on hyper-editing to try and enhance it. They are also able to take Salerno’s somewhat average screenplay and bring it up to a higher level than what it would have been.
Let me make a quick comment about the cinematography. Pure and simply, brilliant. Daniel Pearl of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre proves that he is one of the best cameramen out there in Hollywood. The shadows are deep and contrasts are sharp. Pearl has a brilliant eye for shadow and light. The Brothers and Pearl bring a unique look to the film.
As I have said the screenplay tries to bring back the developed and likeable characters from Alien and Aliens, which has been somewhat lost in 3 and Resurrection. However they are character types we have seen before and they aren’t really developed beyond their specific type, leaving you not to really have much care for them when they croak. These scenes are usually painfully paced and you writhe in your seat praying to either be struck down by lighting or for the film to move forward. Thank heavens the Brothers keep a tight reign on the pace and the character scenes move effortlessly and smoothly, so there shouldn’t be too much agony.
But it’s the action that we all care about. There has been talk online over everything is in pitch black and impossible to see, the Brothers keep the cameras within a hair’s width of the Predator and Aliens and cut so damn fast you don’t know what is going on. All I have to say to that, bullocks.
The Brothers bring an element of style and roughness to the action and though the lighting is low, you can tell what is going on. The action is fast and relentless, though the Brothers don’t hyper-edit it and the camera is far enough away you can see what is happening on screen. My main complaint about the Predator on this film is that he uses too much of his plasma caster and it would have been nice for him to use a bit more of his spear, shrunken or other weapons, then again would you want to get into hand to hand combat with an alien?
There are more battles in this film than in the first film, a step in the right direction for the fans, though there is gonna need to be a lot more to fully please everyone. The final battle with the Predalien is a rocking rough battle, though it could have been longer, but the ending to it, loved it.
The action delivers and I must say I am satisfied with it. Would like to have seen more of it going on, though it is a step in the right direction like I have said before. The Brothers bring back old school action and bring it without relying on modern stylization or editing techniques. Handheld cameras also come in near the end of the film, though it really isn’t made apparent and the Brothers don’t attempt for a ‘documentary’ style feel, something many directors try to get nowadays and usually end up looking like it was made by a first time student filmmaker who thought shaking the camera, zooms in and outs and all that jazz somehow would make it look sophisticated. If they tried for that, would have destroyed the movie.
The actors in Requiem are a mix of television actors and movie supporting role actors. Most of them are unknowns in the film world, though if you have seen American Gangster, you might recognize John Ortiz (Sheriff Morales) who played Russell Crowe’s first partner. Robert Joy (Land of the Dead, The Hills Have Eyes remake) also makes an appearance. The cast is an ensemble and they all do a fairly good job for their roles. They don’t have to that much to work with though but are able to work well with what they got.
The creatures by Tom Woodruff Jr. and Alec Gillis are perfect like always. The suits are totally believable and show why practical is always better than CGI. While Anderson wanted more giant, linebacker built Predators, this Predator goes back to the original of having him slimmed down, though still strong. I’m kind of in the middle of which kind I like better, I liked Anderson having them larger as it did give the species a bit more of a variety and make them seem less cloned.
The Aliens in the film go back to James Cameron’s design of the ridged head; the jaw area seems to be a bit of Jeunet’s Resurrection Aliens. Once again I am a fan of Giger’s original design, though I am also equally a fan of Cameron’s version of Giger’s work. Giger’s Alien has purity about it and Cameron’s has a roughness to it. Whatever one you guys like, rest assured they look great.
The Predalien, though I am ticked off Fox decided to show the design before the film came out –a giant blunder imo- it’s a great hybrid design. While the film is not specific that the Predalien is a female, there is a key visual clue for those who know the Alien Queen. The Predalien does posses a crest that sort of mimics the look of the Queen’s crest, though the Predalien’s is much smaller. I have to say I really love the design, a perfect blend of Predator and Alien and I hope if another pops up for AVP3 they don’t alter the design one bit, it’s perfect the way it is.
Despite working in the world of CG for their Hollywood careers, the Brothers keep the CG to bare minimum and it’s not even noticeable. This is where some of my nervousness came from once I learned they worked with CG for I feared they would go with what they knew and have all the Aliens done with CG. They are only CG in a few scenes, so it’s all good.
The music by Brian Tyler is one that brings back memories of the scores from the original films as well as there is a mix of samplings taken from the original scores of the movies. It’s a good throwback to the originals and while still being itself an original, I totally dig it.
Overall, Aliens vs Predator: Requiem, while certainly not a great film, is a major step in the right direction and should please fans unhappy with Anderson’s movie. The Brothers Strause made a strong directorial debut and brought their own visual style to the series. Though it has its problems, I do recommend the film for viewing and I think it’s worth it. If there is to be another AVP film, I do hope Fox gets the Brothers to direct, though I hope they get a different writer for the screenplay. I think that they could hit gold for a third film with them directing. This is tgs signing off, reminding you to pick up your trash when you go to the movies and that at the end of AVP:R there is nothing at the end of the credits.