The follow up to 2004’s clumsy – but overall solid – Alien vs. Predator, proves that more is not always better. Sometimes more runs counter to any hopes of artistic coherence.
Director: The Brothers Strause
Written by: Shane Salerno
Runtime: 94 minutes
US Release: November 4, 2007; 20th Century Fox
Picking up immediately after the events of AVP, Requiem follows a lone Predator playing exterminator in a small Colorado town overrun with Xenomorphs. Leading the horde of aliens is the big-bad “Pred-alien”, a creature that deserves due attention; in this film, however, it is quickly demoted to an afterthought along with other potentially interesting elements. One of which is the story of an ex-con (Steven Pasquale) who returns to town, resuming a frenemy relationship with the sheriff (John Ortiz). Such a relationship offers the thematic exploration of justice and friendship that would sufficiently carry any movie. Requiem, however, has a kill quota to fill; it demands a bevy of unimportant characters to slaughter.
Indeed, the Strause Brothers direct their movie like a teen slasher. Accordingly, there is a subplot concerning a group of teenagers composed of the dork, the babe, and the bully with his gang of stooges. It is contrived, but worse, it lacks irony. The same cliches inhabit Scream, after all, but Wes Craven’s movie works thanks to an intentional self-awareness. No such awareness presents itself in Requiem, rendering the gross-out kills boring by the end.
The Strause Brothers, to their credit, try really hard to make those kills memorable. At times they succeed, but ironically so; any lasting impression from this subpar meal comes from the acid reflux endured afterward. Two kills are worth mentioning to highlight the gratuitous nature of the deaths: a Xenomorph pumps a pregnant woman full of spawn, which then burst through her stomach; then at the end, the army literally nukes the town. The first example is a shocking display of violence on the innocent. In and of itself, this is not a terrible choice; kids are often killed in movies to effectively heighten fear and tension. But reflecting how the teenage characters are handled, there is no sense of awareness. The pregnant woman (and her baby) are brutality torn apart without intention, grace, or respect. As for the climactic finale of the film, it just smacks of laziness. Nothing illustrates the filmmakers’ lack of creativity than this choice. It is how a fourteen year old would end a movie (no offense to aspiring fourteen-year-old filmmakers; it’s a fine choice for where you’re at in your career).
Unlike its predecessor, Alien vs. Predator: Requiem, offers zero repeat value. Even the Predator itself is given little to do, mopping up Xenomorph kills more than anything else. Overdrawn, needlessly violent, and full of cardboard characters, AVP:R should only be endured as part of a larger Predator or Alien marathon.
by Vincent S. Hannam