Friday, January 18, 2008
Directed by: The Strause Brothers
Written by: Shane Salerno
Don't forget to click on the pics for INTROSPECTOVISION!
This movie just plain fucking asked for it. It didn’t even tip toe around a scathing review…it dove headlong into it. And here it is…
The directors of this little opus call themselves “The Brothers Strause,” which is a collective nickname for Colin and Greg Strause, two brothers who managed to pull off the biggest ‘Punk’ ever on Twentieth Century Fox.
Their credits are listed on imdb.com as pretty much all visual effects work on all the big budget films of the past three years, usually adding a piece to the larger puzzle, but in no way spearheading the project’s direction. That much, after watching this crap, is obvious.
“The Brothers Strause” make AVP: Requiem look like it was not only ‘called in,’ but is so fucking lazy that it seems that they sent their direction in through the messenger on Xbox live while they were in the middle of playing ‘Gears of War.’
And, for the record, having a nickname like “The Brothers Strause” further discredits the movie…The Farrelly Brothers get away with it because they make movies for you to intentionally laugh at. In this case it’s amateurish, tacky, and ultimately, clears up your hour-and-a-half-journey of stupidity with the explanation that it was a couple of assholes pranking you (a la the Jerky Boys).
The first AVP was directed by Paul W.S. Anderson (Resident Evil, Mortal Combat, Event Horizon) and was a fun, cheesy good time. It in no way captured the menace of the Predator or Alien films, but rather took the ‘anime’ approach, which is what I call it when an R-rated franchise goes PG/PG-13. It was Predator and Alien-LITE. But, at least it was fun.
AVPR makes the first AVP look like the first Predator or the first Alien put together.
AVP: Requiem picks up literally after the credits roll on the first film. We are introduced to a bunch of lackluster, boring, clichéd, and I-can’t-wait-for-you-to-die characters who all stumble through the film as mere fodder for the canon.
Only the canon is just as boring. The big joke/fantasy element of the ‘PredAlien’ is now fully realized and looks so ridiculous that, really, who gives a shit? The thing looks ridiculous and is about on par with the ‘human’ alien in “Alien: Resurrection.” Instead of trying to up the bar, Colin and Greg (I refuse their nickname) should have tried to merely reach it.
What is disheartening is that filmmakers…wait…they have not earned that title…we’ll call them ‘fanboys with a camera’…when these fanboys are given a shot to direct a big sci-fi epic at Fox (Lord…am I the only one laughing my ass off here?)…It seems that the studio has all but forgotten that ALL of the films in these respective franchises were taken under the wing of a director with vision…and even if that vision didn’t turn out to be a great success, at least it had some kind of focus.
The first Predator was directed by John McTiernan (Die Hard, The Hunt For Red October, etc.), who is not always on point with his films, but is generally successful and has helped define the action genre during his career. The first Alien was directed by Ridley Scott (Gladiator, Blade Runner, etc.), who needs no introduction, nor does the director of the sequel, James Cameron (Titanic, Terminator). The third Alien film was directed by David Fincher, who would later bring us the classics “Fight Club” and “Seven.”
What the fuck happened Fox?
I’ll tell you what happened…you got fucking lazy. You probably didn’t even want to make this pile of celluloid shit, so you kicked it down to some promising visual effects fanboys and they shit you out a turd.
Greg and Colin are at fault for not doing their best to make something great…and trust me…they didn’t even try…but the fault ultimately rests in the studio’s hands for not giving two shits about who made this film or how it turned out.
Now, Predators and Aliens may seem all, well, childish to many. It’s a sci-fi kids fantasy epic…monsters and spaceships and heroes and heroines. It’s been the lynchpin of cinema since cameras first started rolling. Our fascination, as human beings, will never end with this type of genre, I assure you. However, the level of product, obviously, has diminished.
The script by Shane Salerno (Armageddon, Shaft) is a hodgepodge cliché of mixed genres…namely the teen horror/slasher genre mixed with monster alien sci-fi. Sounds great, right? Wrong. There is not one single worthy character in the bunch, no one that takes up the mantle of protagonist that would make you cheer for them, let alone remember their name.
Look, I have to go back to the originals here, so bear with me. Predator had Schwarzennegger…Predator 2 had Danny Glover (which is odd, but it worked)…All of the Alien films were contingent on Sigourney Weaver as Ripley, one of the most baddest ass heroines in film (Seriously, she owns the line “Get away from her you bitch!”). These were all iconic characters that you cared about, that you wanted to win, that you wanted to live, to see the fight through. To boot, they all had great supporting characters as well. Most people can name their favorite colonial marine from Aliens or their favorite operator from Predator.
AVP turns humanity into lackeys to be killed off, instead of choosing one or two of them to lead the fight. Here’s the thing; I wouldn’t have a problem with that if you fleshed out your protagonist as much as you did the human counterparts. Of course, in AVPR’s case, there is no fleshing out whatsoever, unless you count some gratuitous shots of a girl stripping down to her undergoods.
Let’s face it…Let’s be honest here, fanboys and non-fanboys alike…the aliens in the “Alien” series always looked cool and vicious…but really…aside from a few head nods at the right moment they weren’t fleshed out for shit…they’re the equivalent of a wild, unintelligible animal…and they don’t seem to have any kind of goal…they just kind of kill and impregnate everything and spawn like cockroaches…maybe that is their goal and if it is…well, that’s fuckin’ weak.
The Predator on the other hand has a much more documented and intricate past and present, a home planet with it’s own society and strange rituals, etc., which have been portrayed in the comics and novels that have followed since the first films release.
Even the Alien vs. Predator comic book that inspired this whole debacle (but has not been tackled in story in any way) had a thoroughly involving and intricate storyline with each character, human or alien, all having an agenda. Knock comic books all you want, but the majority of that industry’s writers put a lot of work into their stories.
Okay, so the story is so fucking bad and you want an explanation? You got it. Strap in. As I said earlier, we pick up at the end credits of the last film, as the new hybrid Predator/Alien pops out of the protagonist Predator’s chest.
The hybrid is obviously loose and starts attacking the ship (and is pretty well full-grown already), and kills the crew, which causes the ship to veer back to earth and crash land, breaking all their live specimen cases of aliens, which in turn begin face-huggin’ away at anything that moves.
The Predator ship sends out a distress signal and we get a glimpse of the Predator home world as some lone Predator sits in his ‘office’ admiring the sunset when the signal comes in. He quickly gears up and flies out, alone, and not alerting any fellow predators to his departure. “Yeah, just got a distress signal…probably nothing…it was from earth, so I’m just gonna go check it out…nah, I don’t need back up…I’m good…got my spear and shit, so…yeah…laterz.”
The aliens spread like wildfire, face hugging and multiplying, this time under the leadership of the hybrid instead of a queen.
The Predator shows up and starts to ‘investigate’ in Predator: CSI-style. He pours some acidic potions and runs some tests that have quirky sci-fi sound effects and discovers that, yep, it’s them pesky aliens with them snapping jaw thangees again.
A lower-level sheriff shows up at the scene the Predator is investigating and, for whatever reason, the Predator kills him, skins him, and hangs him up, but doesn't take a trophy, as is his custom. There is no motive for killing the cop. But, I guess Colin and Greg decided you had to have a skinned human hanging in a tree in order to make it seem Predator-ish.
Now, up to this point, we’ve been introduced to an Ex-con named Dallas (who looks like a ‘dark side’ Backstreet Boy) and his pizza delivery boy brother, Ricky. Dallas is fresh off the bus from ‘the pen’ and catches a ride with the sheriff, who happens to be a childhood friend.
The sheriff, played by John Ortiz, is boring, stupid, and apparently too young and inexperienced to handle a city of this magnitude. Ricky, the pizza boy is all in love with this blonde bitch named Jessie and naturally she has an entourage of testosterone laden jocks who beat little Ricky up and throw his keys in the sewer drain.
Good ol’ Dallas shows up in time to stop Ricky from taking a baseball bat to the jocks and they head to the sewers to find his keys. Of course the sewers are not only filled with rats, but also with homeless people who, naturally, are face-hugged. Oh, and pointless. And stupid.
The CSI-Predator shows up to the sewers and a little fight breaks out, which is uninspired, unexhilerating, and completely yawn-worthy. I would rather watch someone play Halo.
First off…you’re on earth…why are you taking everyone into the fucking sewers? You have cities and buildings and historic sites, etc…there are a lot more interesting places to stage a battle other than a fucking sewer. (see Predator 2 for reference)
Now, it’s time for ‘Paul’s Crazy War Vet Gaffe Squad.’ I was talking to my platoon leader yesterday who saw this movie abortion and he told me how he and his buddy laughed through the whole thing and probably ruined it for the rest of the audience. I told him that wasn’t possible.
We are treated to the lovely Reiko Aylesworth (Fox’s 24), who plays a US Army soldier returning home from Iraq. Reiko gets off of a bus, which drops her near her home and she then walks to the front door where her husband and daughter are waiting.
We’ve been at war since October 2001. That’s seven fucking years. How hard is it to simply GOOGLE the process of a soldier returning home? They don’t just land on a plane, jump on a bus and head on home. I realize you only have an hour and a half, give or take an hour, to tell a story on film. I’m not saying you need to turn the movie into something else; I’m talking about accuracy. Accuracy leads to authenticity leads to credibility, something this movie has ZERO of.
In short, when a soldier returns home, they have to turn in all of their gear (we fly home on a civilian chartered aircraft with ALL weapons and gear in tow or on our person), then be briefed, and then they are turned lose in a homecoming ceremony. Now, you could sit here and argue with me about ‘oh, maybe they just didn’t show that part and she just took a bus home and…”
Oh, you don’t have anything more to say because I just karate chopped your larynx.
The point is if someone was at war for 12-18 months, their family doesn’t wait at home for them; they meet them at the homecoming ceremony. You’re telling me that this chick just went to war and her husband and daughter wouldn’t be at the first point of contact that they could?
I’d call bullshit, but the fucking lines are busy.
Bear with me. You’re lucky you have a crazy war vet to tell you these things. To boot, Reiko is wearing a MARINE uniform and has ARMY tags on. Seriously, they didn’t even try, folks. And even though the average joe doesn’t know, it still counts. Because guess what, I don’t know shit about being in prison or being a sheriff, but somewhere, probably on this blogsite, there is a sheriff or ex-con writing their own review of this shitflick and citing all the inaccuracies. This one insults on all levels.
Allow me to enlighten you further. Reiko, upon seeing her daughter, presents her with a gift. What? No, not a fucking teddy bear. Howabout a pair of PS-7B monocular night vision goggles. These things are $2,000 and, when issued and used by the military, are a SENSITIVE item, which means you NEVER take it home and it is accounted for at all hours of the day. When it’s discovered that they are missing, the entire POST is put on lockdown and nobody can leave until they are found.
But, it’s cool, I’m sure Reiko cooked the books so that she could give some expensive sensitive equipment away to her daughter, so that she could, you know, look through them and stuff. Who needs ‘My Little Pony’ when you can have real life Army gear! (TIP: 7B’s suck ass and aren’t cool in any way)
That’s not the end of the insulting military antics, but we must move forward.
Ricky the pizza boy is invited by Jesse the blonde bimbo to the school pool, where they break in and strip down for a swim. At this point, Colin and Greg realize that they don’t have shit going on and keep the lens trained on Jesse’s nearly naked bod for much longer than usual. Not that I mind. They needed all the help they could get.
Of course the bullies show up and, naturally, the aliens are there too and carnage ensues.
In the end of this little tussle, we now have a rag tag group of teen horror movie cliché characters led by an ex-con named Dallas. They all flee to the streets and end up in a sporting goods store in order to procure some weapons. I still can’t decide if that was a smart or stupid idea since the characters are all over the map.
As the aliens spread, they naturally make it to Reiko’s house, where her sleepless daughter spots the aliens outside the window with her hunk o’ shit night vision goggles. Daddy comes in to assure her there are no boogeymen with acid for blood and fangs inside their mouths. Poor Daddy, he gets the goose.
Reiko grabs her daughter and runs and, by a strange twist of movie fate, ends up in the same sporting goods store where the rest of our rag tag group is. The whites of my eyes are now watching the movie.
At this point we have quick flashes to a government official (guy in a suit around a bunch of computers with people looking real busy and in a crisis) who is watching a map of this community (which is in Colorado). The map has little red splotches, which continue to grow larger and larger, signifying the spread of the aliens.
Okay, hi there fellow movie watcher. Let’s talk for a minute. Let’s speak realistically here. You may not be a scientist, computer programmer, current or former military, government spook, etc…and we can both assume that neither of us know everything there is to know about how things work.
But, in terms of common sense…HOW the motherFUCK would you track a bunch of creatures when you have no means of doing so. Did some wildlife film crew go out and tag all the aliens and their subsequent offspring in order for ‘guy in suit’ to watch on a monitor to let us know that, “Oh fuck, they’re spreading.” (Oh, that would be a great line for the trailer…really let the audience know that the aliens are getting worse!)
Am I the only one annoyed by implausibility? Am I the only one being insulted here? (Apparently not, due to this turkey’s abysmal box office performance…thank the Lord).
Now, once Reiko shows up at the sporting goods store she starts spouting off about how she knows what the government is going to do. They’re going to contain the problem. No shit, lady.
And suddenly they are treated to the rumbling sounds of the National Guard responding to the crisis. All two humvees and one stryker of them. This is containment?
And here we are treated to yet another movie cliché, which only seems to annoy those of us who actually have been involved in it; communication. Apparently, in movie world, every radio works with every other radio, no matter the frequency or type. Civilian radios somehow have the same fill as military secure channels and they can talk back and forth in clear and concise chatter until the screenwriter is done with them talking as the crucial info comes across.
Seriously, enough is enough. You’re telling me that we all have universal comms and that the Army sends in two trucks and a stryker (with about 9 soldiers total) to respond to an ALIEN INVASION?? Did these motherfuckers not see ‘Independence Day’ or what?
And of course, the ‘professional’ soldiers are dispatched like fodder so that the rag-tag can go out and take over their vehicles and equipment. And here we go again. Reiko discovers that there is a helicopter on the roof of the hospital and that they MUST get to it because her military ESP is delivering a message that the government is gonna nuke the city.
And she can fly a chopper. And drive a Stryker. And fire a .50 cal. And bake muffins. Holy shit, I should’ve married this chick. I love it when the vacant-minded Hollywood assholes assume that since you’re in the military you can do EVERY job in the military. Amazing. We don’t even need MOS’s (Military Occupational Specialty) anymore. We do it ALL. That’ll be the new motto.
Army. We Do Everything. Seriously.
Paul, that’s great that you want to rant about all the military goofs, but what about the aliens and predators and the fighting and stuff. Oh, I’m sorry. There isn’t any! Yeah, all that time you’ve been sitting there and reading my rant, yeah, nothing has happened.
Okay, fine, the Predator shows up in the sporting goods store, too. Yeah, they break out the camping gear and fire up some smores and learn each other’s language and make a pact to meet there every year, just like Before Sunset with Ethan Hawke. And then go fishing. Predators, as it turns out, love salmon.
So, the ragtag heads to the hospital to ‘GET TO THE CHOPPA!’ and battle their way through the uninspired last act of this trash. The Predator shows up…who knows why, really, he’s just there…and fights a few aliens.
Now, let’s talk about these fights, shall we? They are shot in super tight close ups, no slow motion, no iconic shots, just a bunch of close up bullshit that you can’t make heads or tails of. You can’t even tell what’s happening. Someone told Colin and Greg that the Bourne Supremacy/Ultimatum shaky cam thing is the new shit, so they decided to take it to a whole other level and make it completely blurry.
The Predator does a few little tricks and then just stands there like a bad ass, which seems to be the new custom with these films (and an annoying one at that). The aliens climb walls and screech and then die. I think I was playing zuma on my cellphone for that part.
We get to the big rooftop showdown. Predator vs. Hybrid. And it’s raining. Ooooooooo, this is it! No. This is not it. This is where Colin and Greg saw that their shit was weak and they figured a little rain might help delude the poop and wash it away.
We are treated to a weak-ass ‘battle’ where you can’t make heads or tails of anything. Then the Predator blows himself and the hybrid up, just as multi-tasking Reiko flies away in the choppa.
As she’s flying away, the big, bad, sneaky, dirty, government nukes the city and Reiko crashes miles away. We go to black. We come up from black. They crawl out of the debris. They are in the forest.
And then, in a commercial for US Army Special Forces, a bunch of soldiers come out of their hiding spots wearing full on guillie suits and camo and surround the survivors. You see, US Army Special Forces (SF for short) is so badass that they have intel on where and when a group of escapees from a national disaster are going to crash their stolen choppa and they just dig in and wait around the exact spot. Duh.
And that’s it. Yeah, they live. Great. Who fucking cares? And as a denouement we are treated to the government official meeting with an S&M dressed Asian lady in a futuristic office in a big sky rise and he gives her a suitcase and I don’t know what the fuck just happened and the credits start rolling and oh-my-God have I got to piss.
What this movie represents is the downfall of cinematic integrity. There are millions of Predator/Alien fans around the globe and we’re all hoping to see something great done with these entities, much like their originals, and are instead treated like a bunch of 13-year-old boys who just want to see some explosions and lasers and boobies.
The hunger for story and originality is insatiable. It is for me, without a doubt, and I think most movie audiences agree. We don’t need retreads like this. If you’ve ever seen the movie 'Multiplicity' with Michael Keaton you’ll remember that it involves him making a clone of himself in order to find more time for his family. Then the clone makes a clone of himself and so on and so forth. By the time they get to the fourth clone he is literally retarded, a mere shadow of the original.
AVPR is the 12th clone of multiplicity. A slobbering ignoramus that couldn’t count to six with all its fingers and toes exposed.
So, how do you fix it? Do we even care anymore? Should we just call these two franchises dead?
Perhaps. But, maybe, just maybe, Fox will come to their senses and hire some talented professionals to tackle the franchises independently and give us something fun, original, exciting, and maybe a little scary, just like the initial entries. Most people are familiar with the phrase “getting back to your roots.” Well, with these languishing franchises, that is exactly what the doctor ordered.
Otherwise, call the time of death and let’s move on.
NOTE: Requiem is defined as a musical composition or mass for a deceased person. The irony is just all too real.
GRADE: ZERO (cannot be graded as is off the scale)