Paul W. S. Anderson directs Sanaa Lathan, Lance Henriksen and Ewen Bremner in this sci-fi horror mash-up were the iconic xenomorphs and hunters from far better movie series’ face off.
“Whoever wins. We lose.” Fair to say I was the target market for this… I obsessed over both franchises – bought the Dark Horse comics, action figures and model kits in my teens. When this arrived after a seven year drought of big screen releases for either sci-fi series, it was fair to say I was hella thirsty for acid blood and cackling countdowns. Despite Event Horizon being promising, there was something about Paul W. S. Anderson that didn’t exactly stoke up the fire of excitement. Neither Arnie nor, more importantly, Sigourney was returning. The released movie was a low toss. Not particularly spectacular – awkwardly characterless and pulling its punches in terms of gore. Slick, toothless, featureless. A disappointment. A couple of decades of even lower quality reboots and sequels down the line, has this aged any better on cautious rewatch? Not really. It feels like mercenary lowest common denominator stuff. Sanaa Lathan tries to be a memorable final girl but she merely hits her mark in an underdeveloped role. Anderson clearly loves his sets and monsters, bringing atmosphere to his abandoned Victorian whaling outpost and the alien pyramid underneath. His shooting style is just a little too clean and unfussy though. You can see the animatronics jerkily calibrating the alien queen’s artificial moves, the shifting of the traps goes at exactly the speed of four Czech men pushing a bit of heavy set dressing in unison. There’s a reason Ridley, Cameron, Fincher and even Stephen Hopkins powered into backlighting, shadow and dry ice. As well designed as the creatures are they cannot hold up to the scrutiny of a well lit lengthy close-up. Give us a bit of mystique, for fucks sake. For middling action and reheated plotting AvP might be a good starter into the franchise for the uninspired. It does exactly what it says on the tin and clearly is made by someone who slavishly adores the franchise. For those of us immersed in these series this feels very much like the bland off cuts and reheats from superior movies rather than the mother of all battles. Still, the sequel to this went the other way and that was even worse…
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