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FOX

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Paul W.S. Anderson
Cast:
Sanaa Lathan, Raoul Bova, Lance Henriksen, Ewen Bremner, Colin Salmon, Tommy Flanagan, Joseph Rye, Agathe De La Boulaye, Carsten Norgaard, Sam Troughton
Writing Credits:
Dan O'Bannon ("Alien" characters), Ronald Shusett ("Alien" characters), Jim Thomas ("Predator" characters), John Thomas ("Predator" characters), Paul W.S. Anderson, Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett

Tagline:
Whoever wins ... We lose.

Synopsis:
"It may be our planet, but it’s their war!" The deadliest creatures from the scariest sci-fi movies ever made face off for the first time on film. The incredible adventure begins when the discovery of an ancient pyramid buried in Antarctica sends a team of scientists and adventurers to the frozen continent. There, they make an even more terrifying discovery: two alien races engaged in the ultimate battle. Whoever wins ... we lose.

Box Office:
Budget
$65 million.
Opening Weekend
$38.291 million on 3395 screens.
Domestic Gross
$80.281 million.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Supplements Subtitles:
None
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 108 min. (Unrated Extended Version)
101 min. (Theatrical Version)
Price: $34.99
Release Date: 1/23/2007

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Paul WS Anderson and Actors Sanaa Lathan and Lance Henriksen
• Audio Commentary with Visual Effects Supervisor John Bruno and Creature Effects Designers/Creators Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr.
• Trivia Track
• Both Theatrical and Unrated Extended Versions of the Film
• Trailers


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Alien Vs Predator [Blu-Ray] (2004)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 14, 2010)

Ever since Predator became a hit in 1987, it seemed logical that Fox’s two big science-fiction monster franchises would combine. By that point, the Alien series was established as a success, and the two characters felt like a natural match.

The concept first came to life on the comic book pages when Dark Horse started their Aliens Vs. Predator series. That proved quite successful and launched thoughts that we’d eventually get a big screen battle between the aliens and the predators.

It took 15 years for this to happen. The comics started in 1989 but we didn’t get a film of Alien Vs. Predator until the summer of 2004. Was it worth the wait? No, as AvP only fitfully lives up to its potential.

As the film opens, robotic pioneer and corporate honcho Charles Bishop Weyland (Lance Henriksen) rounds up chemical engineer Graeme Miller (Ewen Bremner), environmental technician and guide Alexa Woods (Sanaa Lathan), archaeologist Sebastian De Rosa (Raoul Bova) and others. We learn that Weyland’s satellite located a mysterious underground pyramid in Antarctica. Weyland takes the group on a dangerous expedition to find the pyramid, and they race the clock since others will also seek it.

In the meantime, a predator ship comes to life and sends some of its inhabitants to Earth. The explorers find a mysterious tunnel already dug there so they follow it. They explore the pyramid while the predators monitor them. Eventually this leads to the defrosting of a frozen alien queen and the creation of her eggs. We then see them do their thing along with a hunt by the predators. All three sides - alien, predator and human - get involved in a major conflagration that fills much of the movie as our protagonists try to figure out how to survive. We also discover the secrets of the pyramid and that backstory.

I truly loved the Alien series and also enjoyed the two Predator flicks. That meant I really wanted to get something special from AvP and hoped that director Paul WS Anderson would capitalize on the subjects’ potential. A lot of fans frowned on his hiring, as his prior efforts didn’t inspire a lot of confidence. I can’t say I disagreed, but I thought Resident Evil was a decent action flick and crossed my fingers Anderson might be able to work wonders with this franchise.

I hoped in vain. Yeah, the movie does come to life fitfully when it actually lives up to its title. Some of the battle sequences provide moderate thrills and excitement; they don’t compare with the best parts of the prior Alien movies, but they give us some fun.

Unfortunately, Anderson spends way too much time with the humans. He clearly takes Alien and Aliens as his models. Both of those movies use extended introductions to the human characters before we see much action. While Anderson doesn’t get quite as much time with which to work, he does set things up in a fairly slow manner.

That worked for Ridley Scott and James Cameron but flops badly here. The problem largely stems from the boring characters and dull cast. Both of the first two Alien flicks enjoyed strong actors and lively roles, but neither of those circumstances converges here. I almost feel bad for Lathan, as Sigourney Weaver leaves big shoes to fill. She does nothing to create a vivid personality, and Alexa comes across like little more than a generic budding heroine.

None of the other participants does any better. Even familiar face Henriksen can’t bring out any life in Weyland, and it feels like Anderson brings him into the story as a gimmick more than anything else. Other Alien flicks featured thin characters, but at least they were interesting. These are one-dimensional and boring.

By the way, it’s not a mistake that I’ve referred almost exclusively to the Alien flicks as inspiration for AvP. The film feels much more like a part of that series and the predators almost come across as incidental. If you check out the disc’s extras, we hear much of Anderson’s affection for the Alien movies and not so much about Predator, so this slant toward the former should come as no surprise.

Oddly, AvP appears to use another series as a bigger influence than the Predator movies. In many ways, AvP reflects the tone of Jurassic Park. The introduction in which Weyland’s lackey rounds up the various experts and they head to Antarctica strongly resembles the opening of Park, and other sequences reflect the Spielberg offering as well. Heck, Anderson makes the queen alien act like a T-rex at times!

The biggest problem with Alien Vs. Predator isn’t that it steals from other movies. Instead, my main issue stems from the film’s general dullness. AvP simply lacks much personality. It fails to capitalize on the potential inherent in its subject matter and comes across like little more than just another action flick.

Note that this disc includes both the original theatrical cut along with a longer unrated version of the film. Does the longer one improve on its predecessor? Not really. It adds 12 segments of varying lengths, none of which do much to create a more exciting or involving movie. Actually, the prologue in 1904 – which also appeared on the original DVD release – is pretty good, but nothing else stands out as particularly memorable. In either iteration, AvP remains a lackluster film.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio A-/ Bonus B

Alien Vs. Predator appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The visuals usually seemed fine, but a few concerns knocked my grade down to “B” territory.

Sharpness didn’t present any significant issues. Most of the movie came across as nicely detailed and distinctive. However, some shots looked just a little soft; these weren’t dominant, but they meant the movie sometimes lacked the detail I expect from Blu-ray. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, though, and the movie lacked any form of source defects.

With its preponderance of snow and ice, AvP didn’t offer a very broad color scheme. Nonetheless, its hues came across smoothly. The film displayed its chilly bluish tint well, and the occasional brighter tones looked concise and vivid. The most challenging elements stemmed from some colored lighting, and those shots seemed clearly rendered.

Blacks were positive. They showed nice depth and tightness, and shadows provided good clarity as well. This was a dark movie, but the low-light shots remained satisfactory in terms of visibility and delineation. The occasional soft shot made this a “B” transfer, but it was still quite appealing most of the time.

Greater pleasures came from the DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio of Alien Vs. Predator. The soundfield appeared very broad and engaging throughout the movie. All five speakers got a strong workout as they displayed a lot of discrete audio. This made for a convincing environment as we heard plenty of atmosphere and objects swirl actively and appropriately about us. Segments like the chases and fights stood out as particularly dynamic, but a mix of action sequences kicked things into high gear. All these elements created excellent feelings of place and brought the material to life well.

Sound quality also appeared very good. Dialogue was crisp and distinct. Speech showed no signs of edginess or any problems related to intelligibility. Effects were always clear and dynamic, plus they displayed virtually no signs of distortion even when the volume level jumped fairly high; throughout explosions, blast, and various elements, the track stayed clean. Music sounded appropriately bright and accurate and portrayed the score appropriately. The mix featured some pretty solid bass at times, and the entire affair seemed nicely deep. Overall, the audio provided the expected levels of involvement and activity.

How did the picture and audio of this Blu-ray differ from the prior DVD? I felt audio appeared pretty similar between the two. The lossless DTS-HD mix was a bit punchier, but the tracks on the DVD were nearly as good.

As usual, the Blu-ray boasted standard visual upgrades. Even with the light softness, the Blu-ray appeared tighter and more concise. It also provided deeper blacks and clearer low-light elements. This was a nice step up in quality.

This Blu-ray release of Alien Vs. Predator comes with a mix of supplements but it fails to include everything from the two-disc DVD. I’ll cover what we get here and then review the omissions.

I already mentioned one “extra” in the body of my review: the unrated edition of the film. This lasts an additional eight minutes and includes 12 snippets not found in the theatrical edition:

0:24-1:48: 1904 prologue;

3:14-3:48: More of the discovery of the Antarctic find;

8:50-10:04: Interactions between the scientists before Weyland first speaks;

34:13-34:16: More graphic killing;

34:24-34:35: More graphic killing;

37:12-38:56: More in the tomb, including the discovery of a dead facehugger;

53:52-54:44: Weyland’s legacy;

58:55-59:08: More gore;

1:00:07-1:00:08: Insanely quick shot of Sebastian;

1:04:39-1:05:21: Weyland’s death;

1:07:57-1:08:41: Theorizing about predators;

1:19:53-1:20:17: Predator cuts up an alien.

For my qualitative remarks about the added footage, refer back to the body of my review. I added this listing to give the extra material a quantitative summary.

Note that if you select the theatrical cut of the film, you can find much of this material on its own in a section called “Added Unrated Footage”. Taken together, these clips run a total of 10 minutes and 53 seconds. Since the unrated cut lasts only about an extra eight minutes, this makes little sense on the surface. I gather that the individual segments also include some bits found in the theatrical version, so not all of that 10:53 is new.

We get two audio commentaries. Both also appeared on the prior release, and they only accompany the theatrical cut of the film. The first one presents director Paul WS Anderson and actors Sanaa Lathan and Lance Henriksen, all of whom sit together for their running, screen-specific chat. As one might expect, they cover a pretty wide variety of subjects. We learn a little about the cast and how they got the roles, and we also get notes connected to the story and influences from the prior flicks. The discussion includes information about locations and sets as well as the film’s visual design, character development, and general shooting anecdotes.

This is the very definition of a listenable but unexceptional commentary. On one hand, it maintains a decent energy and offers a fair number of nice details. In the other hand, it suffers from too much happy talk and general praise. It’s one of the many tracks that’s good enough to screen but not terribly memorable.

For the second commentary, we hear from visual effects supervisor John Bruno and creature effects designers/Creators Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr.. All three chat together in this running, screen-specific track. As one might expect, effects elements dominate this discussion. We learn about the practical and computer elements as well as the flick’s overall look. At times, the commentary gets a little dry, and a few dead spots occur. In general, though, the guys keep the tone light and jocular, and they help make this a reasonably informative and likable piece.

A new addition to the set, the film includes a trivia track. Rather than discuss the film, this subtitle commentary offers lore about aliens and predators. We get “transmissions” with facts about the various species. These notes appear somewhat infrequently, but they’re fun when we see them.

Finally, the disc throws out some trailers. We find ads for AvP, Behind Enemy Lines, Phone Booth, Planet of the Apes (2001) and The Transporter.

So what do we lose from the two-disc SE? Quite a lot, as the Blu-ray replicates that release’s first disc – plus the new trivia track – but doesn’t bring any of the second platter’s components along for the ride.

This means we fail to get additional deleted scenes as well as extensive materials that look at all aspects of the production. I liked the SE’s extras quite a lot, so it’s a drag those components fail to show up here.

Fans waited many years for Alien Vs. Predator - and then got a major disappointment from this unfocused and bland flick. It occasionally mustered some good action but usually kept things dull and without much excitement. The Blu-ray presents fairly good picture with excellent audio and a few interesting extras.

Unfortunately, the Blu-ray drops tons of supplements from the two-disc SE, so fans will have to hold onto that release if they want to keep all that AvP-related info. For those who only care about the movie, though, the Blu-ray is the way to go.

To rate this film visit the original review of ALIEN VS PREDATOR

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