Alien vs. Predator — two thumbs where?

If you like mindless action/suspense/SF entertainment, Alien vs. Predator is your kind of movie. If you’re looking for something thoughtful, non-formulaic, and offering insight into the human condition, keep moving people, there’s nothing to see here.

If you’re looking for me to spoil the movie, look no further!

We open predictably, if you’ve seen the trailers: a satellite detects a pyramid under antarctic ice, and the satellite’s owners round up the best and the brightest archeologists, ice drillers, and climbers to form an expedition to check it out.

Don’t get attached to any of these characters. They’re all doomed except one, and she isn’t deep enough to get attached to. There each have a few good moments, and Lance Henrikson’s best was an almost imperceptible nod to his dagger-and-hand trick from Aliens.

The “Predators” have already bored a tunnel down to the pyramid with a space laser, so we get to skip over the “digging through the ice” part of the expedition. Our doomed party arrives at the pyramid before the hunters do, shimmying down the sloping tunnel and leaving a group up at an abandoned whaling camp.

That group dies first. The predators plow through them with no explanation. One of them survives long enough to slide down the tunnel, but then he gets spotted and dispatched.

The doomed party down below splits into two groups. One is in the “Sacrificial Chamber,” so labeled in the conveniently readable mix of ancient egyptian, mayan, and cambodian. The other descends to a treasure chamber, and manages to unlock the chest where the predators keep their weapons. When they remove the three shoulder-mount cannons, all hell breaks loose. The pyramids internal walls shift about, the Sacrificial Chamber is locked, and alien eggs are lifted into it. You know that cute blonde chick from the trailers? The one who has a gun pointed at an egg? She misses.

The pyramid continues to shift every ten minutes or so. If you count shiftings, the baby aliens gestate and become full-grown in 20 minutes. I’m willing to overlook this plot-hole, though, because the Predators LOSE their first two encounters with the aliens. Apparently for all their machismo, these guys ain’t got much of a game when it goes hand-to-hand.

Before long, we’re down to a single predator and three humans. The count drops to two, and then one human pretty quickly, and we get the predictable human/Predator alliance. We also get the predictable “Queen Alien is freed from her chains” moment, and at that point we’re expected to actually fear for the entire human race. Feh. The predators have been doing this for thousands of years. They’ve got orbital weapons. They’ve got a ship up there. They can contain this.

The remaining predator ends up using his wrist-nuke as a tactical grenade. He throws it into a room full of eggs, and he and our human heroine ascend the tunnel in a super-sled of some sort that I don’t remember anybody bringing to the party, but whatever. Unfortunately, the queen is already loose on the surface (and doing remarkably well in that cold.) In a climactic battle the queen is dropped into the depths, chained to some massive piece of 19th-century hardware. The remaining predator is killed, and our heroine is gets her “I’m a real Predator now” mark on her cheek. Then the predator spaceship de-cloaks, and they carry off their fallen comrade, nodding at our heroine but NOT taking her with them in what would be a TRUE gesture of respect for the humans who’ve come so far.

Oh, and then back on their spaceship a chest-burster escapes from the fallen Predator while nobody is looking. Here’s hoping it kills everyone on their ship.

–Howard

27 thoughts on “Alien vs. Predator — two thumbs where?”

  1. Let’s not forget the plot holes such as, “I’m wearing a skin tight shirt and no coat in the Antarctic night”, “It’s October and the sun just went down. Are you sure we’re in the Antarctic?” and of course, “We just arrived. It’s dark. I have two flashlights. I think I’ll use a flare instead for dramatic lighting.”

    1. If I’m recalling correctly, October is when the sun should be coming up in the Antarctic – but you’re right, it required near-total suspension of disbelief not to notice that no one’s breath steamed except for the one guy who slid down the tunnel out of control and was chopped up for his efforts.

      1. You’re right. It is when it’s coming up. But in the movie, it’s going DOWN. I just want to know how that guy survived a 2000′ slide down a ice tube to get chopped up for his efforts.

        1. Well, you’ve gotta figure that, while the days are still short, the sun must also set in October. It isn’t until December or so that it never sets.

          The part I can’t get is, if it’s night…in the Ross Sea ice…how come nobody seemed cold – except for that one guy that miraculously survived a two-mile-deep slide down the ice?

  2. Oh, YEAH! My review is here but I completely forgot that entire issue… and I was wondering too– how far were they below sea level– 2000 ft? Even without the water crushing down on them, wouldn’t they have needed some sort of special breathing apparatus? Suits of some sort? And wouldn’t that champagne have exploded? Or at least tasted really nasty? 🙂

    1. Except they were 2000 ft down in a cavern. Ambient pressure is based on how much stuff is above you. Water is incredibly heavy, so pressure builds very quickly. 14 pounds per square inch (an additional atmosphere) every 33 feet of depth. That’s due to the column of water pressing down on you. So, yes, under 2000 feet of water, you’d be subjected to about 900 pounds per square inch of pressure. You’d be dead.

      Since the only thing pressing down on them in this watertight cavern is air, 2000 feet of air is merely 15.6 psi. When comapare to the pressure of a normal atmosphere that you endure each day (14.7psi), that is miniscule. You withstand greater pressure at the bottom of the deep end of the swimming pool (~19). In that instance, the champagne would have had slightly more carbonation still suspended in the liquid, so it would fizz as much in the glass, and would taste slighty more bitter due to a higher carbonic acid content, but probably not enough to be noticed.

      1. Keep in mind also that Antarctic ice is ABOVE sea level. They probably only had an additional half-pound of pressure at their 2000-foot-below-ice-surface depth.

  3. That’s some of the plot from the Dark Horse comic series, only they seem to have rewritten just enough of it that they didn’t have to pay any royalties to DH. Feh.

  4. There’s also the fact that this is an archaelogical expedition and somehow, just when they’re needed, the guns appear as if by magic; first pistols, then miniguns or machineguns with laser-sights. Since when do archaeologists end up being Special Forces types anyways? Apparently, the director saw Stargate: SG-1 and assumed all archaelogists were literate in every hieroglyphic language and also had magic gun-storage spaces and Special Forces training. At least the SG teams, led by Air Force special ops types, actually are seen carrying theirs.

    Incidentally, I thought the Predators were supposed to be hunters – the stealthy, kill from range or up-close types, and not bumbling goons as they’re supposed to be here. This was SUCH an easy movie to make into a decent Sci-Fi/Action flick, and they blew it.

    You think it’d be poetic justice if the director ended up being lynched by Aliens and Predator fans? 😛

    1. Well, as far as the guns bit goes, only the nitwits from Weyland had them, and they weren’t skilled in any sort of true archaelogical capacity. They were there to carry heavy stuff, pretend they knew just enough to escape notice, and then draw guns in case someone else tried to jump the claim, so to speak. It’s not super-plausible, but it’s something I can see a corporate expedition doing. That’s why the scientists weren’t packing at all, except for the occasional pocket knife or ice-axe.

  5. You know, I think I’ve heard enough here to know I don’t want to see that movie.

    The cinema staff don’t like it when I start throwing things at the screen and screaming about the stupidity of the characters. Well, more than once a month at any rate.

  6. The one major thing that bugged me was that the only characters that they did develop were the ones who all died, while leaving out an amazing opportunity (if only for merchandizing) to develop the Predators a lot more.

    *shrug* I dunno, I guess I think the Preds are cool, and they deserved better in this movie. I think I’m gonna go and read my Dark Horse trades now.

  7. Feh. The predators have been doing this for thousands of years. They’ve got orbital weapons. They’ve got a ship up there. They can contain this.
    What was that line? Oh yeah… “I say we dust off and nuke the site from orbit… it’s the only way to be sure.” Except, sans the ‘dusting off’ part…

    Unfortunately, the queen is already loose on the surface (and doing remarkably well in that cold.)
    To be fair, these guys operate pretty well even in hard vacuum (and clinging to the bottom of a transport, no less.) Though if I may posit a question that may or may not have been answered.. what the heck were Alien eggs doing on Earth? Why hadn’t the planet been overrun by Aliens? And who built a pyramid for the things without getting eaten??

    Er, one more, backstory really — are Predators a particular race, or do they come from a variety of races and just happen to be the best at killing stuff? But you’re right, it would’ve been cool if they took her with. Shades of Samus Aran!

    1. The backstory is that, when the aliens get out of control, the Predators use a magical orbital weapon that kills the aliens dead, without somehow leaving any trace of its use on the planet in question. My question is how do the scientists here know to kill people before the embryo hatches, when people in Alien did not necessarily think that way?

      The Predators are a race of hunters, however, and they are a rather homogenous group. The Alien Versus Predator novels did have them adopting one human survivor of a colony which was overrun by Aliens, but she was marked with the Master Hunter’s special mark, indicating the woman was one of his students. Of course, she DID kill Aliens with his weapons, so there was some justification for this point of view.

      Here, they’ve got a Lara Croft knockoff killing aliens, and somehow the guns show up out of nowhere. Oh, and they seem to ignore the whole ‘acid blood can eat through the decks of ships’ thing.

      1. “Deep Throat? You mean the one that helped Solid Snake??” :>

        Er… so did the Aliens build the pyramid to resist the weapon, or what?

        Wow, nice to hear they forgot one of the main things that makes Aliens nasty… :p

        1. No, the Predators built it to keep the Aliens confined. That’s why there were hieroglyphics – they taught the locals (us) to build those things, then we conveniently all died off… never mind how those people got to Antarctica in the first place.

          The weapon’s just supposed to be a deus ex machina, which never apparently got used here once the Predators realized the aliens were out of control. 😛

          1. As I understood it, the pyramids were build by human worshippers of the Predators. The Pyramids were used as rite of passage buildings.
            The predators had a Queen alien… I don’t know… deep frozen? In suspension? in a chamber in the bottom of the pyramid. It was chained up, so that when the hmans took the predator’s shoulder cannons (or as was apparantly supposed to be the case, when the predators took the cannons) the queen was lifted up and… awakened/tortured by some sort of arcing electricity into laying eggs. These were then whisked away by a conveyor belt to the lifts that took them up into the now-sealed sacrificial chamber, in which there should have been worshipful humans lying on the slabs near the “egg elevators.” (in this case, there were a bunch of random people reading stuff and then looking at the eggs in wonder.)
            The eggs hatch, the alien Face-suckers lay the chest-bursters, and then, in… wait, 10 minutes?!!?
            In 10 minutes, the chest bursters have popped out and matured, and are then freed from the sacrificial chamber to do their thing.
            The weapon we see in the “explanation” isn’t orbital- it’s one of the predator “Wrist-Nukes.”
            Essentially, young predators are brought here to kill all the aliens, or blow themselves and the aliens off the face of the planet.

    2. In the comics, the pyramid is a remnant of a civilization run by the Predators, in which they would conduct their Rite of Passage by stocking the place with humans and xenomorph eggs, and then sealing the Predator kids in. The fast-gestating xenomorphs are hand-waved away with the explanation that the Predators genetically engineered them to make better prey.

        1. Oh, it’s been a while. Um, I think there was this whole vaguely Aztec civilization with the Predators as gods. Predators are a separate race; they can’t breed with humans. I think that’s what you’re asking, anyway. I dunno…look at the pretty fight scenes and ignore the tissue-paper plot. *waves something shiny*

  8. The temple, of sorts, ahs one purpose. You seal all your children in, throw in some human slaves, hit the dispense eggs buttopn for your captice queen, shake well, and open after a few days. Any surviving predators have proved themselvs, nay surviving alians get killed off by the battle proven adult predators.

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