village voice
RSS/Podcast feed for Village Voice News La Dolce Musto
Wynonna's backwoods backstory (and other therapy issues)
RSS/Podcast feed for Village Voice News Status Ain't Hood
The Departed UGK Mastermind Raps His Last
RSS/Podcast feed for Village Voice News Cover Story
On the Taco Trail
Enter to win a $50 Gift Certificate to Agozar!
Tekserve iPod Contest
Enter to win a 80GB iPod Classic from Tekserve!
Bodies The Exhibition
Slime Pickings
Latex vaginas + Boba Fetts on steroids = choreographed black-on-black-in-blackness
by Ed Halter
August 13th, 2004 5:50 PM

Ka-ching (left) vs. ge-schlorp (right)
photo: 20th Century Fox
Alien vs. Predator
Written and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson
20th Century Fox, in release
In the lowfalutin spirit of Dracula vs. Frankenstein, King Kong vs. Godzilla, and Freddy vs. Jason (not to mention next summer's inevitable Benji vs. Garfield), Alien vs. Predator arrives via the most convoluted revenue-stream daisy chain to date: It's a film based on a video game series that in turn drew inspiration from a string of comic books and novels (!) that were themselves retreads of two separate sci-fi movie franchises, one of which dates back to the ancient age of Carter. With perfunctory battle sequences, cardboard characters, and uncreative scare 'ems, Paul W.S. Anderson's monster mashup isn't quite terrible enough to be so-bad-it's-awesome, but his swift (if forced) plotting and amusingly shoddy costumes mean that there could be worse ways to enjoy air-conditioning.

Set in the present day, the story appears to be only loosely related to any of the films, although the casting and naming of bazillionaire industrialist Charles Bishop Weyland (Lance Henriksen, who played the android Bishop in Aliens and Alien3) suggest either a future timeline-threading or quasi-random in-joke. After his satellites discover a Mayan-Cambodian-Egyptian-style pyramid 2,000 feet below the ice in whitest Antarctica, Weyland organizes a crack team of smart people to investigate, including a ballsy lady ice ranger (Sanaa Lathan), an archaeologist (Raoul Bova) who conveniently has the ability to read Mayan-Cambodian-Egyptian glyphs, and a skinny guy who looks funny when he's frightened (Ewen Bremner). Once the troop becomes trapped inside the pyramid, the structure transforms into a kooky castle of revolving walls and Chinese-puzzle chambers, shuttling the characters from one peril to the next inside its literalized narrative machinery.

No surprises here with either extraterrestrial race: The Aliens are still flying latex vaginas that invade chests and metamorphose into giant penis-headed goo-drippers; the Predators remain invisi-shielded Boba Fetts on steroids. Anderson's vidgame-adaptation skills (Mortal Kombat, Resident Evil) disappoint when the baddies go head-to-head: Some of the key tussles are barely visible choreographies of black-on-black-in-blackness, thus working as blind radio-play sound-effect brawls of the Predators' blade-readying ka-chings versus the Aliens' Lovecraftian ge-schlorps. The best moments are bits of unintentional nerd-camp, provided by this low-budget schlockbuster's adherence to the Predators' '80s-era creature effects in favor of any more contemporary CGI update. After all, there are precious few movies nowadays that offer the spectacle of a dude in a ridiculous rubber suit—complete with dread-like hair extensions—booking it Indiana Jones–style as a roaring fireball blossoms mere millimeters away from his plastic-encased butt. Had anarchists or Naderites their own newspapers, they would undoubtedly click their mandibles in delight at the movie's advertising tagline—"No matter who wins . . . we lose"—and drool gobs of acid saliva at the prospect of editorial cartoons casting Bush as warmongering Predator to Kerry's crypto-French Alien. But opting out of a world-shaking battle would be such a bummer. Better to live by the revelatory bad-assism dealt by Lathan: "We are in the middle of a war," she warns her fellow totally doomed human. "It's time to take sides."

More by Ed Halter
Visions of Grandeur
Standish Lawder opens more doors of perception

World Beat
Margaret Mead doc fest takes pulse of the global music scene

Lincoln Center South
The NYFF walks its avant-garde picture palace to Anthology Film Archives

Anger Me

Scotland Bard
Bill Douglas filmed life as it was: hard, bleak, cruel.

Add a Comment

Not ? Login as a different user.

All reader comments are subject to our Terms of Use. By submitting a comment, you acknowledge that you have reviewed and agree to these Terms of Use.

Login or Register

Login or register to have a chance to win Free Stuff, subscribe to newsletters and much more!

Login Register
The Village Voice Ad Index
New York City's Hottest Tickets for New Years Eve
New Years Eve
Event Guide

» click here to see more...

Holiday Gift Guide
Wrapping 2007

» click here to see more...

Best Of NYC 2007
Places & Spaces

Hip Neighborhoods, Distinctive Developments, Green Buildings

» click here to see more...

Fall Guide 2007
Village Voice 2007 Fall Guide: Art Bites

» click here to see more...

Fall 2007 Education Supplement The Village Voice Fall 2007 Education Supplement
Rookie Teacher Nightmares
The Hardest Lessons
Our Course Catalog

» click here to see more...

Siren Music Festival The Village Voice Siren Music Festival
Your guide to New Yorks Hottest Indie Rock Music Fest

» click here to see more...