It was a sold-out afternoon show for Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem in downtown San Francisco yesterday, and I was sitting in between two huge family groups who had helpfully brought about half a dozen kids under the age of eight. Good call! This was a family movie, starting off on the right foot with a Predator ship full of Alien specimens crashing in the Colorado forest and immediately implanting themselves in a hunter and his young son. You've got to love a holiday monster movie that's not afraid to kill kids in horrible, gut-munching, blood-spewing detail. People who want dialog that goes beyond "People are dying!" should seek out something else; but monster freaks will love this flick.
Probably the best thing about AVPR is the lone cop Predator who comes to the small Colorado town to clean up the mess left by the crashed Predator science ship. We see Cop Predator on the Predator home world playing what looks like a Predator video game, hanging out in his Predator apartment and drinking Predator beer. Then he gets a signal or message or something, and takes off on his badass Predator motorcycle so he can get to the ship that will take him to Earth. He's got cool weapons, he punches out an Alien (dude, seriously awesome), and he kills some of the more annoying human characters too. Once this badass hits the screen, the flick basically becomes a Mexican wrestling movie crossed with Halo. In case you are wondering, that is Totally Fucking Awesome
Also, there's this Predator-Alien hybrid called the Predalien — sort of the turducken of monsters — but it isn't really that important to the movie. In fact, most of the fight scenes are so swishy and dark and shiny that you can barely tell who is fighting whom. It's just double-mouth fu, and spines and claws and "screech!" In fact, there's even a hint about what audience these fight scenes are aimed at. When the surviving humans all run to the local ammo store to hide, the two guys behind the counter start babbling about conspiracies and aliens. "Are you stoned?" asks a cop. They both nod, along with half the people in the movie theater.
What's amazing about this zippy little 87 minute flick is that despite its B-movie simplicity, it manages to slip in a few subversive messages. The army reaches the remaining townspeople via radio, telling them to head to the center of town "for rescue." But the one character who is actually military says, "No — they're lying." She says that the army is probably trying to herd everyone together in order to nuke the town and contain the threat. Only a few people believe her, insisting, "The government wouldn't lie to us!" (This line got the whole theater yelling and laughing.)
Like many recent monster flicks influenced by 28 Days Later's dim view of military intervention, the characters in AVPR are caught between two angry monsters and the army. The question this movie seems to ask is: Who would you want on your side? Predator or army?
I know my pick.