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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Colin Strause, Greg Strause
Cast:
Steven Pasquale, Reiko Aylesworth, John Ortiz, Johnny Lewis, Ariel Gade, Kristen Hager, Sam Trammell, Robert Joy, David Paetkau
Writing Credits:
Shane Salerno, Dan O'Bannon ("Alien" characters), Ronald Shusett ("Alien" characters), Jim Thomas ("Predator" characters), John Thomas ("Predator" characters)

Tagline:
It began on their world. It will end on ours.

Synopsis:
By day, blind attorney Matt Murdock (Ben Affleck) toils for justice in Hell's Kitchen. By night, he's Daredevil, The Man Without Fear - a powerful, masked vigilante stalking the dark streets with an uncanny radar sense that allows him to "see" with superhuman capabilities. But when the love of his life, fiery Elektra Natchios (Jennifer Garner), is targeted by New York City's ruthless kingpin of crime (Michael Clarke Duncan) and his deadly assassin Bullseye (Colin Farrell), Daredevil may be about to meet his match.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$13.655 million on 2611 screens.
Domestic Gross
$41.797 million.

MPAA:
Rated R

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.35:1/16X9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English DTS 5.1
Spanish Dolby Surround 2.0
French Dolby Surround 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 101 min.
Price: $34.98
Release Date: 4/15/2008

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Directors Colin and Greg Strause and Producer John Davis
• Audio Commentary with Special Effects Supervisors/Creature Creators Tom Woodruff Jr. and Alec Gillis
• Five Featurettes
• Seven Still Galleries
• Trailers
• Digital Copy


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Harman/Kardon DPR 2005 7.1 Channel Receiver; Toshiba A-30 HD-DVD/1080p Upconverting DVD Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem (Unrated) (2007)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 23, 2008)

Nearly three decades after the Alien series started, and more than two decades after the launch of the Predator franchise, both continue with 2007’s Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem. The sixth Alien-related flick and fourth connected to Predator, Requiem starts with apparently the 917th time a predator vessel comes to Earth. Unlike the others, though, this one crashes because a hybrid “predalien” creature attacks the crew.

This one plops down in a Colorado forest, where both the predalien and a bunch of egg-laying face huggers escape from the craft. To deal with this, the predators send out a new hunter to come to Earth. They infect a local hunter and his son so the alien lifecycle starts anew. Sheriff Eddie Morales (John Ortiz) heads up the search to find the missing folks.

In the meantime, we meet some of the human locals in Gunnison CO. Ex-con Dallas Howard (Steven Pasquale) returns to town to set his life in order, and his teen brother Ricky (Johnny Lewis) delivers pizzas part-time after school. Ricky has the hots for classmate Jesse (Kristen Hager), an attitude she just might reciprocate. Soldier Kelly O’Brien (Reiko Aylesworth) returns from combat to her husband Tim (Sam Trammell) and daughter Molly (Ariel Gade). That roster encapsulates the main participants who attempt to battle the beasties who now swarm about their town. The flick follows their fights as well as further developments when the military becomes involved.

One reason why the Alien films worked – and the two Predator flicks to a lesser degree – stemmed from their human characters. We developed an investment in those personalities and we cared about them. Also, they managed to maintain our interest. Sure, they often veered toward stereotype, but the films often were able to use that to their advantage.

With its anonymous characters, 2004’s Alien Vs. Predator broke with that tradition, and unfortunately, Requiem continues the trend established in its immediate predecessor. If anything, the dull nature of the participants gets worse here. Requiem does precious little to develop the characters, and I bet you’ll find it difficult to simply remember their names. Oh, you might recall “Dallas” because the film steals the name from an Alien lead, a dopey inside joke that almost passes for cleverness here. Otherwise, you’ll probably have trouble simply identifying the actors’ faces much less their names; you’ll likely end up thinking of Kelly just as “Fake Ripley”, which is essentially the role Sanaa Latham played in the first AvP film.

I know it’s unrealistic to ever expect either franchise to produce anything on a par with Alien or Aliens but I sure wish that the filmmakers involved would try harder. I don’t think there’s any reason we can’t get something at least as good as the underrated Predator 2. Too much of Requiem feels like warmed over material borrowed from earlier flicks; there’s precious little innovation or creativity on display.

That’s not because the film lacks potential. Ever since Aliens became a hit in 1986, fans have clamored for an “aliens on Earth” movie. Technically, AvP delivered that, but not in the manner I think most fans desired. It put all the action in one remote spot and failed to develop the kind of “aliens in your hometown” concept that sounds appealing.

Requiem finally does that but it has no other tricks up its sleeve. Even the concept of the “predalien” falls flat. Rather than create the baddest-ass beastie in the universe, this sucker looks like some goofy invention the filmmakers drew up in about 10 minutes. He never develops into the be-all, end-all monster you’d anticipate.

This film also returns the series to its “R”-rated origins. Fans freaked when AvP went for a teen-friendly “PG-13”, so the suits apparently decided to go back to the gorier possibilities of an “R”. And Requiem certainly earns that rating. The film possesses many graphic kills and definitely packs the highest potential to offend viewers because it offs a number of children on-screen. I guess it wants to tell us it has no sacred cows – even pregnant women aren’t off limits here – so some folks may be offended by what they see. Those aren’t the kind of people likely to watch an AvP effort, though, so I doubt it forced too many to register complaints about its violence.

However, Requiem clearly inspires many gripes about all its flaws. The movie does occasionally manage to produce some effective action mayhem, but the uneven storytelling harms it. The filmmakers never decide if they want to focus on the internecine battles between the aliens and the predators or if they’d rather deal with the humans. Neither side develops appropriately so they both flop.

Requiem plays like a movie made by fanboys who like to see lots of fights and blood but who fail to understand that without interesting characters and intriguing plot points, no one will care. Often it simply rehashes concepts from its predecessors, and it brings precious little freshness to the table. It ends up as another disappointing entry in its series.

Note that this DVD supplies an unrated version of Requiem. It runs about 15 minutes longer than the 86-minute theatrical cut. I never saw the latter, so I couldn’t judge which edition worked best. However, the disc includes an option that “marks” the portions of the film added to the unrated cut, so at least fans can clearly see what changes took place.


The DVD Grades: Picture C+/ Audio A/ Bonus B

Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. While not a terrible transfer, the picture fell short of my expectations.

Low-light shots became the primary concern. In fact, they offered the only true problem, but since about 95 percent of the movie came during those kinds of circumstances, that became a major issue. This was a dark presentation, but we didn’t get a moody atmospheric darkness. Instead we found a “what the heck is happening???” form of darkness.

That was my main complaint, as I found it awfully tough to tell what was going on through much of the movie. It became difficult to discern the difference between predators and aliens or to figure out what occurred during fights. It wasn’t just the monsters bathed in darkness, though; humans were stuck in the muck as well, so good luck figuring out who’s who and what’s what through the flick. I don’t know if all the excessive darkness came from the original photography or the transfer, but I don’t really care. All I know is that I had a tough time figuring out what was happening; intentional or not, it was a bad choice.

This flaw was too bad, as the rest of the image seemed pretty good. Blacks were adequately dark and tight, and colors appeared surprisingly full. Movies like this usually offer stylized tones, but Requiem went with a warm, natural palette that showed vivid hues.

Sharpness was perfectly solid – or at least I think so, since it became so tough to see the action. When I could discern the elements, they usually looked crisp and concise, though some light edge enhancement occasionally lent a tentative appearance to wide shots. No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects occurred, and source flaws remained absent. If only the transfer didn’t look so dark, this would’ve been a winner. As it stood, I didn’t feel I could give the image a grade above a disappointed “C+”.

No such qualms greeted the movie’s sound. In terms of audio, Requiem provided both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 soundtracks. Most of the time I think the flicks with both DD and DTS mixes sound pretty much identical; I tend to notice only volume differences, as the DTS tracks are usually notably louder. That trend continued here. Once I adjusted for that factor, I thought the two mixes were very similar.

No complaints come with that observation, as the tracks sounded absolutely terrific. The various action beats flew at us hot and heavy throughout the flick, and they offered nearly nonstop opportunities for lively imaging. Bullets and other weapons filled the spectrum in an involving way, and the various creatures also cropped up around the room in a similarly convincing manner. I liked the “predator vision” effect that put us in the creature’s head, and even quieter moments demonstrated nice environmental information. The tracks provided consistently active and well-rendered soundfields.

All of that would be moot without good sound quality, but the two Requiem mixes satisfied in that regard as well. Effects came across very well, as those elements always appeared accurate and full. Music was also rich and dynamic, and both aspects of the track gave us deep, tight low-end response. Speech was crisp and distinctive at all times. Really, I could find nothing that I didn’t love about these tracks.

Quite a few extras fill out this disc. We find two separate audio commentaries, the first of which comes from directors Colin and Greg Strause and producer John Davis. All three sit together for a running, screen-specific chat. They discuss story issues and changes made for the unrated version, cast, characters and performances, sets and locations, visual effects, score, and some connections to prior movies.

This track proves serviceable. It goes through some basics in a decent manner but never opens up as anything more substantial than that. The participants manage to cover general thoughts about the film and throw in a little humor along the way. Nonetheless, the commentary has a “by the numbers” feel that makes it less than enthralling. I can’t call this a bad chat, but it’s decidedly average.

The second commentary features special effects supervisors/creature creators Tom Woodruff Jr. and Alec Gillis, both of whom also sit together and offer a running, screen-specific piece. They go into all variety of effects they worked on, with an emphasis on the various alien and predator costumes and related concerns. They also tell us a little about the locations and other production subjects, but they spend the vast majority of their time with practical effects.

That gives the commentary an awfully limited focus, of course, but Gillis and Woodruff do their best to make the discussion interesting. Old friends and partners, they joke around with each other and help ensure that the chat usually seems entertaining, even when they have to vamp to fill time during the non-effects shots. The track doesn’t cover a broad enough array of topics to become really satisfying, but it’s an enjoyable enough listen. I could live without their frequent half-joking plugs for their merchandise, though.

Five featurettes follow. Preparing for War: Development and Production runs 15 minutes, 51 seconds and features Greg and Colin Strause, Gillis, Woodruff, Davis, editor Dan Zimmerman, director of photography Daniel Pearl, 2nd unit director Jeff Habberstad, and actors John Ortiz, Reiko Aylesworth, Ariel Gade, Johnny Lewis and Ian Whyte. “War” looks at the original script and changes made along the way, casting, the Strauses and their directorial style, practical effects and the creatures, visual design and cinematography, and locations and sets.

“War” turns into a perfunctory piece. The shots from the set work as the best elements; they provide some nice glimpses of the production, though they fly by too quickly. The information offered tends to be pretty basic, unfortunately, as “War” rarely rises above the level of promotional program.

For the 12-minute and 13-second Fight to the Finish: Post-Production, we hear from the Strause brothers, Zimmerman, senior VFX artist/voice actor Matthew Santoro and animation supervisor Joshua Cordes. The show looks at editing and changes made for the unrated cut, visual effects, virtual sets, music and audio. Despite its focus on technical issues, “Fight” offers a lot of fun information. We get good facts about these areas plus entertaining bits about the audio, especially when we meet Santoro and hear his Predator impression. This is a surprisingly enjoyable show.

Next comes the seven-minute and 34-second The Nightmare Returns: Creating the Aliens. It includes the Strause brothers, Woodruff and Gillis. As implied by the title, the program looks at creature design. The participants cover influences from the prior flicks and various choices made for the critters. Some of this repeats from the commentaries, but we get a good overview that’s bolstered by useful visual support.

Crossbreed: Creating the Predalien fills eight minutes and 21 seconds with statements from Gillis, the Strause brothers, and Woodruff. “Crossbreed” follows in the same vein as “Nightmare” except it concentrates solely on the “Predalien”. We learn a lot of cool details about the creature in this tight show.

Finally, Building the Predator Homeworld goes for six minutes, 37 seconds and provides remarks from the Strause brothers, Santoro, and Cordes. We learn about the set and production design for our first glimpse of the predator planet. This becomes another useful and interesting piece highlighted by looks at the concepts the filmmakers didn’t pursue.

Seven Still Galleries appear as well. These cover “Designing the Predator” (15), “Designing the Alien” (10), “Designing the Predalien” (19), “On Set: The Rooftop” (16), “On Set: The Sewer” (16), “On Set: The Hive” (10) and “On Set: Cast and Crew” (30). You’ll find a reasonable number of good shots here, though the best ones show up in the “Designing” collections.

A collection of ads completes the disc. We find both “green band” and “red band” trailers for Requiem, while Fox on DVD presents reels for The Onion Movie, Hitman, Bachelor Party 2: The Last Temptation and Possession. Also, a few ads open the DVD. We get clips for the PC-relayed “digital copy” feature, the FX cable network, Jumper, and In the Name of the King.

Want to watch Requiem on the go? Then you’ll be happy to find a Digital Copy on DVD Two. This lets you transfer the flick to your computer, iPhone, iPod or other modern gizmo the youngsters love. Nothing else appears on DVD Two; it’s devoted solely to this digital copy. Wow – if the murky visuals made it tough to discern the action on my 50-inch widescreen set, I can’t imagine what this thing would look like on a three-inch video iPod screen!

Not that I’d feel particularly inclined to watch Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem again in any format. I love the Alien series, and Requiem had a lot of potential to be a winner. However, it combined a non-existent story with flat characters, boring action and bland acting to become a forgettable adventure. The DVD offers excellent audio and a pretty good roster of extras, but the excessively dark transfer was problematic. Requiem was a forgettable disappointment.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.1333 Stars Number of Votes: 15
45:
14:
5 3:
32:
21:
View Averages for all rated titles.

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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main