Alien vs. Predator (2004)


We Have to Consider the Possibility That We Might Not Make it Out of Here.

After having watched far too many Alien and Predator related movies back to back, I think I figured out what probably got today’s movie started.  I wouldn’t personally have drawn any comparisons between those two movies myself were it not for today’s film until I rewatched Predator 2.  In that movie, you can see what is clearly a Xenomorph skull inside the Predator’s ship, implying that the Predator could defeat the Xenomorph.  Fanboys being what they are, the Predator fans probably started to rub that in the face of Alien fans, causing Alien fans to defend their preferred series.  Over time, it became very similar to the Star Wars/Star Trek debates, and studios decided that they needed to make two movies that answered the questions of the fans.  Either that or the studios wanted to make more money.  Either way, the movie came out, and later became the subject for my review of Alien vs. Predator, written by Shane Salerno, written and directed by Paul W. S. Anderson, and starring Sanaa Lathan, Lance Henriksen, Ian Whyte, Tom Woodruff Jr., Raoul Bova, Ewen Bremner, Colin Salmon, Tommy Flanagan, Joseph Rye, Agathe de La Boulaye, Carsten Norgaard, Liz May Brice, and Sam Troughton.

A mysterious heat signature shows up underneath the island of Bouvetøya, 1,000 miles north of Antarctica, attracting a lot of attention, most notably from Charles Bishop Weyland (Lance Henriksen), head of Weyland Industries.  He hastily assembles a team of experts to go and investigate what appears to be a temple buried beneath the ice, and contracts Alexa Woods (Sanaa Lathan) to lead the expedition, against her better judgment.  When they arrive, they find that some airborne anomaly has burrowed a hole from the surface to the temple in less than a day, even though the technology to do that doesn’t exist as far as humans know.  They get down to the temple and quickly find that this temple is a training ground for the Predators, who have kept a Xenomorph queen on ice in the temple until she’s needed to produce eggs, which then produce facehuggers, which then produce Xenomorphs, which then battle the Predators.  And the humans are now caught in the middle of the fight.

I can’t remember it that well, but I feel like my biggest problem with this movie was the same that I had with the movie Freddie vs. Jason: the studio/writer is too afraid of fan feedback to make a decision about who would win the fight that is the entire basis of their movie.  Freddie vs. Jason refused to make the decision and Alien vs. Predator made the wrong one.  And by that I don’t mean that I had picked who I wanted to win and they didn’t.  I mean that they made the humans win, or at least the one human win.  That’s not how the word “versus” works!  I’m not a huge boxing fan, but I’m pretty sure the winner of the famous Ali vs. Foreman fight was not Steve from row three.  Make either the Alien or the Predator definitively win, or don’t bother making the movie.  The world wouldn’t have missed the movie that much either since it really wasn’t that good.  Not horrible, but not great either.  I’m sure most of us know – because of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups – that two great things can work great together, like chocolate and peanut butter.  But some of us (namely me) know that two great things can be horrible together, like chocolate chip cookies and peanut butter.  And yes, I know that from experience.  The story was weak and barely worth paying attention to.  It was mainly just there for the purposes of the setup and then completely forgotten about, just like Alexa’s rules.  I distinctly remember her first rule being that everyone stays together, but the whole problem stars because the group splits into two.  Later on, she even brings it up again.  I guess getting six people killed by forgetting your rule will make you remember it a little better.  They also take to something I’ve hated about movies like this for a long time: why the hell would you even bother bringing an expert when you have no intention of listening to them?  When the expert on ancient cultures tells you not to take the Predator’s guns out of the coffin, why are you going to not just ignore him, but look him right in the eyes as you disobey him and single-handedly get everyone killed?  I also don’t like the Predator working with the humans.  That’s entirely out of character.  The closest thing Predator’s do to work with humans is occasionally to not kill them.  I didn’t even like the entire premise of the movie.  I don’t think the Predators and the Xenomorphs are a good match for each other.  The Predators are skilled hunters and the Xenomorphs are just semi-dumb creatures (at least as they’re portrayed in this movie) that don’t win with cunning or power, just sheer numbers.  This movie is supposed to be a battle between two powerful creatures and it turns into more like the battle I had with the ant hill the other day.  Granted, the Xenomorphs did their damage, but it was more to the humans and only against the Predators with either surprise or numbers, which kind of takes away from the power of the Xenomorphs.  The only occasion where they seemed to show any intelligence was when they raptor-ed the guy in the hallway at one point, having one appear in front to distract him but then hitting him with two from either side.  I was surprised that he didn’t applaud the girl’s cleverness.

I didn’t find any of the performances to be anything special.  Sanaa Lathan was the de facto lead of the movie.  She performed alright, but I get the feeling like they were trying to mooch some of Ripley’s badass chick character, but never really managed to do it, even though this chick did do ridiculous things that should never have happened, like at the end of the movie when she saved the Predator from something really big that it was fighting.  Lance Henriksen was also in the movie, and he was solid in his performance, but it didn’t usually require much more out of him than coughing in the background of a scene.  I was also shocked to see that I had actually seen more than one movie with Ewen Bremner in the cast, the other being the Rundown.  I’ve probably seen more, but I hadn’t yet paid attention to him until I saw him in a role I liked, as with his character in the Rundown.

Alien vs. Predator is two great things that probably should have never been put together.  They didn’t make it a decent fight, they made a silly decision on the outcome to the battle, and they didn’t put very much of interest in the movie to make up for that.  They did much more to damage the two things they brought together than they did to help it along, and for that I say you should skip this movie.  It’s okay, but there’s so many things that would probably bother fans of either of those two creatures, and people that weren’t fans of either probably wouldn’t consider watching the movie anyway.  Alien vs. Predator gets “It’s a bomb.  Well, I hope it kills every fucking one of ’em!” out of “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

The Rundown (2003)


I’d Offer You a Beer, But It Seems You Blew Up My Bar.

The first day of my challenge leading up to my birthday gets things kicked off with a bang.  I’ve picked my favorite movie in the action genre.  There are a few things I’d like to make clear when it comes to these selections.  First, I’m not saying that today’s movie is the hands down best action movie ever made.  I’m saying it’s my favorite.  It’s my birthday and I’ll review what I want to!  Second, it also had to be a movie that I haven’t already reviewed because it wouldn’t really count as one a day if I just copied and pasted a previous review.  And third, I didn’t want them to cross categories.  Also, I kind of just looked through my DVD’s and grabbed any candidates that occurred to me.  So yeah, I may have forgotten about movies like Terminator 2 and Predator, but I’m comfortable with the decision I made.  Like I said before, it’s not necessarily the best action movie, but certainly a favorite of mine.  And so, I bring you my review of The Rundown, written by James Vanderbilt and R.J. Stewart, directed by Peter Berg, and starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Seann William Scott, Christopher Walken, Rosario Dawson, William Lucking, Ewen Bremner, Ernie Reyes Jr., and Jon Gries.

Beck (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) is a retrieval expert who is pretty damned good at what he does, even though he’s not that into his profession.  He only does it to pay off a debt that he owes his boss, Billy Walker (William Lucking) and to get enough money to open his own restaurant.  Billy offers Beck one more job to clear his debt and earn enough money to achieve his goal.  That job: go to South America and retrieve Billy’s son, Travis (Seann William Scott), who is down there searching for a golden artifact called “el Gato Diablo”.  Beck catches a ride with an eccentric pilot named Declan (Ewen Bremner) and starts his search.  Beck’s even kind enough to pay a visit (and a lot of money) to the corrupt de facto owner of the town, Cornelius Bernard Hatcher (Christopher Walken), to make sure he’s not stepping on any toes.  He finds Travis at a bar owned by Mariana (Rosario Dawson), but he also finds trouble when Hatcher decides that Travis was close to finding the Gato and he no longer feels like Beck should take him.

I guess this contest is not going to be bringing any surprises when it comes to my opinion, so the fun will have to lie in the justification.  I love this movie.  I will grant the conceit that things in this movie have been done before, and the movie also seems disinterested in surprising you along the way.  What it wants is fun, and it delivers that throughout.  But, as always, we’ll focus on story first.  The basic idea of the story is a combination of various things that have been done many times in the past.  It’s a bounty hunter movie, it’s a rebellion against oppressive forces movie, it’s a buddy picture, and it’s even kind of a love story that they start and don’t finish.  In fact, the greater majority of the buddy picture parts of this movie seemed straight out of my dim recollection of the Damon Wayans/Adam Sandler movie Bulletproof; a movie that I kind of want to watch now that I’ve thought about it.  But that will have to wait until after the contest is finished.  But we already know that it’s the journey and not the destination, and the journey is very well done.  Loads of good action, great scenery to put around it, and some clever dialogue to boot.  When Beck was talking to his boss in the beginning about not wanting to get the money from the starting lineup of a football team, not because he’s worried about injury for himself but because he’s worried that he’ll hurt them and “they have a good chance of repeating”, it’s funny and lets us know that this guy is a badass.  A good amount of the funny that came from Travis seemed like it was improvised.  Seann William Scott talked a lot, but a decent enough portion was funny.  Calling Beck “Wolfgang Stuck” amused me.  I also liked when he played the rebels against Beck.  The baboons humping Beck’s face was a little low-brow, but that’s not to say I didn’t think it was funny.  I felt like they could’ve tried harder with the rebels.  They seemed to try to rush us to caring about them with a quick conversation and the handing over of a necklace, but we didn’t have enough time to get to know them to actually care about what would happen to them.

I loved the action in this movie.  On occasion, I’d say I’ve had my fill of shootouts in movies.  They’re usually not that visually interesting.  I get the feeling that Peter Berg agrees with me to some degree because he made his main character refuse to use guns.  People would pull guns, but he’d quickly disarm them and get to the beatings.  And who would’ve known that a fight with “Get Your Freak On” by Missy Elliot playing in the background would work?  Not me before this movie did it, I’ll tell you that much.  But Beck was so against using guns that he found other creative ways to use guns.  The one I liked the most was when he tripped Travis by popping the clip out of the gun, causing it to slide across the floor and underneath his foot, causing him to fall on his ass.  There are also two possible outcomes to your main character having an aversion to guns.  The first one is that he’ll have a sappy, mopey story about how a gun killed his wife or some shit, and the second is that he’ll pick up guns and be epic with them.  Thankfully, they chose the latter.  We know it’s coming, but he uses those guns in such awesome and creative ways – ways I’ve never seen guns used before or after – that I don’t give a damn.  Some of the things that Beck does in the movie border on superhuman, but I actually believe it from the Rock.

I loved every single performance in this movie.  For someone with a less than admirable job, the Rock always came off as extra charming. This first occurred to me when he was accidentally getting the autograph from the quarterback in the beginning of the movie.  He had such happiness on his face, like a child getting an autograph from Mickey Mouse.  He doesn’t keep that innocence for long because it quickly becomes time to beat some ass.  For some reason, the Rock is really good at fake fighting.  I can’t figure it out.  Probably just a natural gift.  Seann William Scott was playing a lot more for comedy.  He wasn’t always funny, maybe landing on about 70% of the random things he said, but he was still good.  What helped it more was that he and the Rock had a great chemistry that made all of their parts together that much better.  Christopher Walken is fantastic in this movie.  He’s definitely funny, especially coming from someone who knew he was watching a movie and that this character wasn’t real.  But, even though he was funny, I get the feeling that I wouldn’t want to be anywhere around that character if he was real.  He pulled off intimidation very well.  But it’s Christopher Walken.  What do you expect?  I get the feeling that Rosario Dawson wasn’t really trying to be sexy at all in this movie.  Thankfully, she has no say in the matter.  You’re gonna be sexy and you’re gonna like it, missy!  She also had a great character.  She was also very charming and certainly no damsel in distress.  Ewen Bremner was the comic relief character and you know what I generally say about comic relief people: only this guy has done it without annoying me that I can presently think of.  His big joke was mainly his super thick accent, but he worked it well.

I love the Rundown and I don’t care who knows it.  This is one of the best, and most fun, action movies that I can think of.  The story is basic, unsurprising, and it’s been done before, but some great writing, fantastic action, and outstanding performances elevate it to be one of my favorite action movies ever.  Of course you should watch this movie!  You should own this movie!  And you should fuck yourself if you disagree with me.  The Rundown gets “Establish dominance!  Establish dominance!” out of “Have fun.”

Congratulations goes to my friend Eric for being the one who finally guessed the movie.  And a special shout out goes to Chris and Fabio for trying so hard.

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.