ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  paul w.s. anderson

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  horror

LENGTH  -  87 minutes

RELEASED  -  13 august 2004

DISTRIBUTOR  -  20th century fox

OFFICIAL SITE  -  alien vs. predator

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $60,000,000
alien vs. predator - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from alien vs. predator at

buy the dvd from alien vs. predator at

during an archaeological expedition in antartica, a team of archaeologists and other scientists find themselves caught up in a battle between the two legends

was rumored to be in development ever since a skull from the title characters in the "alien" film series appeared in the spaceship trophy room in predator 2.


picture from alien vs. predator

picture from alien vs. predator

picture from alien vs. predator

picture from alien vs. predator


two out of four possible stars

The producers of Alien vs. Predator did the franchises no favors when they decided to make this film a PG-13 theatrical experience. Far from being the doubly horrifying dose of science fiction the film might have been, "AVP" will convey little of the abject horror and dread these star creatures gave the audiences in their respective series. Part of the reason an "Alien" film is so frightening is the quiet waiting game followed by a gruesome death that each character must undergo. It's a breathtaking game when it's done right. And in Alien vs. Predator, something just is not right.

Owing to the filmmakers that have gotten their claws into these two franchises, something rather depressing has resulted from their efforts. Point blank: the predators in this film (there are several) do something that is so completely at odds with their nature that several scenes elicit laughter from the audience rather than awe or excitement. In attempting to best convincingly throw these two aliens together in the same story, screenwriter and director Paul Anderson has spoiled and pillaged two successful franchises for the price of one. In a scant eighty-seven minutes, no less.

Spoiler in next paragraph - highlight the text with your mouse to read

What is so unbelievably lame, unintentionally hilarious, and poorly done about this film's story is that one of the predators actually teams up with one of the humans to defeat the alien. What sort of hair-brained nonsense is this??? I'm at a loss, truly. Although the second "Predator" film was not as ingenious as the first, even that poorly regarded sequel followed the "rules" of the game and showcased a predator that was true to its nature.

End of spoiler - the paragraphs below contain only review, no spoilers

A supremely important element missing from Alien vs. Predator is the presence of a strong lead performance from a human. The Alien's got Sigourney Weaver. The Predator's got Schwarzenegger. Each of these actors created an indelible hero with their performance as the only person left standing in their respective aliens' wakes, and AVP is missing that strong element. Although star Sanaa Lathan seems to fit the role of "Alexa Woods," ice trekking extraordinaire, with a minimum of difficulty, the character itself is very weak and her actions late in the film during her battles with the aliens don't really allow her to exude enough Bad Ass. Every action hero needs a dose of Bad Ass in his or her performance, and Sanaa seems to have been the recipient of an empty can of Whoop Ass.

Who knows what she might have been capable of had her dialogue been just a smidge above the idiotic. In point of fact, who knows what any of the actors might have done had they been given a tight script or some more graphic deaths. The unimaginative human death scenes (which usually occur entirely off-screen) were probably created with the film's PG-13 rating in mind. The producers were probably trying to ensure a larger audience by knocking a potential R-rating off this film's plate, but in doing so, they messed with one of the fundamental practices of. Sure, you've got some people getting speared and some are covered in Alien Goo, but the blood just isn't there.

The blood spatter on the wall of some human's unfortunate chest explosion (courtesy of a birthed Alien) is nowhere to be found. The persons responsible for the visuals did an incredible job and perhaps the gore exists somewhere in a vault and was simply edited out for the rating? Maybe there will be an "unrated" DVD release that will more accurately convey the fear and desperation of the characters that this film so badly needs. While violence in movies and television is the source of strife for many parents, the fact remains that these two franchises were scary because of their gore. To a lesser extent, they were also heart-pounding because of the quiet moments that infiltrated much of the films (the almost operatic opening of Alien is a prime example).

Despite the addition of Lance Henriksen as "Charles Bishop Weyland," which was a stroke of genius on the part of the casting director, much of his character's dialogue is weak and obvious. Audience appreciation will probably come from the fact that Henriksen starred in another film in this franchise: Aliens, the 1986 sequel. An interesting note for fans of the series: Henriksen's role in Aliens was as "Bishop," an android who helped Sigourney Weaver's "Ripley" (true Bad Ass) to defeat the aliens in that film. In Alien vs. Predator, Henriksen plays "Charles Bishop Weyland," owner of a giant company whose satellite discovers a subterranean pyramid in Antarctica. The interesting thing is that the name of the infamous "Company" in the futuristic Alien franchise is "Weyland Yutani." So it follows that the Company created one of its models of android using the likeness of the founder of their company: Henricksen's "Weyland." (it should be noted that AVP takes place in the present and as such, is almost like a prequel to the first four "Alien" films)

Like his character in Aliens, Henriksen's role is a benevolent one, though the dialogue usually fails this interesting character. The reasons behind Weyland's motives are interesting, but the things Weyland says are far from utterly intelligent. Merely adequate would more accurately describe his dialogue and the dialogue of most of the other characters in the film. Especially that of Tommy Flanagan, whose presence in the film would lead you to believe his character has some bearing on the plot (given that he's been in quite a few films before and has a recognizable visage). There are a host of other characters that litter the film, but none of them make more than a momentary impression on the audience's memory.

The only place in which this film excels is in its alien and predator effects (just look at the photograph at the top of this review for the crew's beautiful creations). It also does more than well in its cinematography and landscape effects. This film is much more interesting to look at than it is to think about. With the dialogue being a shade worse than any film released this year, you could probably put the film on mute (assuming your movie theater comes equipped with your own personal remote) and just watch the scenery. The giant underground pyramid is interestingly designed and claustrophobically photographed and makes for an quickly unfolding cat-and-mouse game that develops between the various species in this film.

But the story and characters of the film are entirely lacking. The balance of grace and excitement so evident in the Alien films is gone. And it seems the personality and motivation of the "Predator" species has been thrown out the window for this film as well. Though some aspects of the film were obviously created from the mind of a fan of the "Alien" and "Predator" series, Alien vs. Predator is chock-full of Lame and Cliché Movie Dialogue. Perhaps the production would have benefited from some character improvisation on screen, such as was the case in the original 1979 Alien film. Surely this cast of actors could have dreamed up more imaginative things to say than what Paul Anderson presented them with in his laughable script.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

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