Alien Vs. Predator or Salmon Fishing in the Arctic

Ash Isaac

In the rarefied world of Hollywood there are two Paul Andersons. One of them is the critically-acclaimed auteur behind such classics as Magnolia, There will be Blood and The Master. The other made this, but hey, the world needs ditch-diggers.

Aliens and Predators have been serving up their unique blend of blood and guts since the early eighties. The only real surprise is that it took until 2004 to finally unite what had been the most highly anticipated crossover of franchises since Freddy versus Jason or The Muppets versus Sesame Street. The real question for fans of Xenomorphs and Yautja was could these two vicious, ruthless, bloodthirsty species successfully share the screen along with arguably the most barbarous and cold-blooded race in the universe, (humans)?

The back story to AVP reveals that both Predators and Aliens have made their presence felt on Earth as far back as Aztec times. In the macho culture of the Predator species, killing things is the equivalent of having a Bar Mitzvah as far as a rite of passage goes, and killing Aliens is the equivalent of the gaudiest, fanciest super sweet sixteen birthday party that you’ve ever seen. As with all the best parties, the cardinal rule is to hold it in someone else’s house, which is where Earth comes in. Predators turn up to Earth with a cargo load of Aliens and proceed to hunt them as prey to justify their masculinity. Talk about overcompensating.

Sometimes the Predators win, in which case all is well, but other times the Aliens win in which case the obvious and not particularly novel solution for the Predators is to blow everything up. Fast forward thousands of years and a batch of intrepid explorers is drawn to a mysterious heat signal in Antarctica. The team is bankrolled by Weyland Industries, a monolithic mega-corporation, richer than Apple, but less sinister, (just), and headed by Lance Henriksen reprising his Bishop persona from previous Alien films. Also present in this hardy rabble is Arctic guide Sanaa Lathan and perennial Anderson favourite Colin Salmon, most famous to UK audiences as bit part Bond character and one time Strictly contestant, but most famous to worldwide audiences for dying horribly in Paul W S Anderson films.

As our heroes journey under the ice to track down the source of the heat signature, a massive Rubik’s cube style pyramid, about as ominous and foreboding a building as Bates Motel appears. They are followed by a trio of surly Predators, none too happy about their frat house being discovered. Into this mix is thrown a shackled Alien queen and before you know it the group is accosted by 8 foot tall aliens on either side. Yikes.

What follows next is the depressingly familiar pattern of the last film in both franchises. Face-huggers, chest-bursters, unsuspecting human hosts, infra-red scanners, laser weaponry and more gnashing teeth and flowing saliva than a panel of talent show judges. Gone are the sympathetic heroes you could root for. No Ripley, Dutch, not even a Harrigan. Just a collection of cardboard cut-out characters that are ripped apart by Predators and Aliens as easily as, well…cardboard. Eventually all that is left is our plucky heroine Lathaan who survives by forming an unlikely alliance with the least remaining Predator before he too meets a sticky end.

This prompts a whole collective of Predators showing up at the end to gather their fallen comrade. Awww. They’re about as articulate as ET and no less classy. The final shot sets the scene for the inevitable sequel as a chestburster explodes from the body of the dead Predator just as his comrades start to set co-ordinates for home and turn the intergalactic radio on. You would have assumed that after years and years of fighting Aliens the Predators might have just taken a second to scan the body for any unwanted cargo or contraband, but no, nothing to declare here, Guv.

‘Whoever wins, we lose’, goes the tag line and one can only assume the producers meant us, the cinema going public. Come in Paul Anderson, your time is up.

About Ash Isaac

I am a contributor of questionable taste, origin and talent. My one claim to fame is that I was born in the same hospital as Cliff Richard. I am still in possession of my soul unlike Sir Cliff who sold his to Samael the Desolate in return for eternal youth and the friendship of Sue Barker.