AVPR: Builds on the first, but goes maybe a bit too far
The second movie in the nascent AVP franchise was titled AVPR: Aliens vs Predator - Requiem. The title that was chosen for the sequel for 2004's AVP: Alien vs. Predator would appear to have been surprisingly apt, but maybe not the way they'd hoped.
[Of course, spoilers coming up]
But first, the story
Our movie starts right on the heels of the previous movie. We follow a ship of Predators as they leave Earth with their fallen comrade in tow. As they do, an alien chestburster pops out of the dead hunter with obvious evidence of genetic crossing.
The newborn Predalien, pretty much instantly grown, attacks the crew, causing the ship to veer off course and crash land back on earth. The Predalien survives and escapes, along with a handful of facehuggers that had been stored in glass jars.
The last surviving Predator gets off a distress message just before being killed. That message is picked up on what we can assume is the Predator home world and a lone warrior heads off to intervene.
Meanwhile, a father and his son (Look! It's young Shawn from Psych!), out hunting in the mountains, come across the downed ship and fall victim to the newly-released aliens.
The town, shortly sends out a search party when the father/son duo doesn't return home, and a cop comes across the Predator while he is disposing of evidence of alien attacks. You can pretty much guess what happens to him.
Meanwhile, the people down in the town that we are getting to know best include:
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- Soldier and mother Kelly (Reiko Aylesworth), just returning from deployment to a daughter—Molly (Ariel Glade)—who seems indiferent to her mother's return
- Dallas (Steven Pasquale) - a man just returning from prison for deeds we're never specifically told and his old pal, now Sheriff Morales (John Oritz)
- Ricky (Johnny Lewis), Dallas' younger brother who has an obvious crush on Jesse (Kristen Hager), despite her currently having a boyfriend—Douchebag, I mean Dale (David Paetkau)
- Others who come in here and there, but seriously, are just food for powder, as the bard would say
The alien threat is eventually revealed and the citizens of this Colorado town, desperate for escape, call for help. Troops from the Colorado Army National Guard come in but are instantly slaughtered by the growing alien swarm.
Attempting to escape, our heroes are told by Colonel Stevens (Robert Joy) over the radio that an airlift evac is being sent to the center of town.
Some of the team don't trust this and head for the hospital to try to use the hospital's medevac helicopter to escape, while others head for the center of the blast zone, I mean town.
Arriving at the hospital, they find out that the Predalien has decided to establish its own nest right there, particularly as there are plenty of victims to use as hosts, since 'he' is apparently a queen, able to force multiple infant aliens down a single person's throat without use of a facehugger. A bit extreme, but okay.
The Predator shows up and there is a huge fight while our heroes chopper away barely ahead of the blast from the center of town, though they're also blown down into the ground, where a National Guard team finds them and *tada!* the conflict is over.
Or is it?
Yes. Yes it is.
Dot dot dot
A requiem is a musical service or hymn for the repose of the dead. From one perspective, I can understand the artistic choice to use it as the title for this movie, but it would appear that the second move in the AVP franchise is likely to be the death of the franchise itself.
And maybe for the best.
If you watched the first AVP movie and felt cheated that it had been toned down to a PG-13, don't worry. AVPR: Aliens vs Predator - Requiem is definitely going to give you more harsh content. If you can figure out what exactly you're seeing to begin with.
One of my biggest complaints of the last movie was that the action, while at times exciting, was frequently filmed too dark, too close, or too shaky to make out what was happening. This time, it's as if the director team, the Strause brothers, ala Crocodile Dundee, looked at that movie and said "That's not incomprehensible movie action. *Ssschikt* Now that's incomprehensible movie action."
Seriously, I was surprised to see that someone was actually credited for lighting this movie. Almost every attack is done in a room so dark as to make it practically a radio play.
Yes, what little I can make out is definitely strong, somewhat gory and disturbing alien and/or predator action. But it's so much work to make sense of it at all.
AVPR - trailer
What about the monster(s)?
The Predator is very much what you can expect and hope for from the previous movies. No real new details here.
The aliens appear a bit different from the original design by H.R. Giger, but mostly similar to what you would expect.
The new element here, not surprisingly, is the extremely fast-growing Predalien.
The concept of the Predalien was first depicted in a Dave Dorman painting, and later featured in the Alien vs. Predator comics. The idea of genetic crossover from host to alien was first portrayed in film with Alien³. And considering the genetic mutations seen in Prometheus, the idea definitely has feet. Except that the AVP series shows the existence of the xenomorph we already know, fully developed and on earth today.
The Predalien admittedly looks cool. When you can actually get a clear shot of it. And its ability to inject multiple alien embryos into a single human host is definitely horrifying.
But the difficulty of combining these two movie franchises is in finding the proper balance between showing each species enough to meet the audience's desires, but not so much as to bore them. And I personally could stand to see a little more of the Predator actually fighting and killing the xenomorphs.
Where does that leave us?
The movie is full of elements that make reference to the previous Alien and Predator movies. One character is named Dallas after Tom Skerritts's character on Alien. And he even shouts to his brother, "Get to the chopper!" Lots of fun Easter-egg moments like that. But that might not be enough for the fans.
Mostly, the movie is just too hard to see.
But there's also the violence and gore of the move. It's like the Strause brothers were so intent in not making this one PG-13 that they actually break a few unspoken rules of R movies in general.
I mean, they kill a kid. On screen.
First the kid watches as his dad burns his arm off with alien blood, then take a hugger to the face before getting his own leathery head hug. And when they wake up, once again, the kid watches as his dad succumbs to a chestburster, then crumples in pain as it happens to him.
Or there's a doctor who takes an alien bite to the center of his face, or a pregnant woman with a brood of aliens bursting out of her belly.
They're definitely not afraid of going over the top here.
But it does make this one a slightly better example of a monster movie than the last one. The attacks are more vicious, though they really don't emphasize the tension and suspense as much as I would like.
And after two movies, it would appear that the Alien vs. Predator concept might be fully mined of all its 'cool' too. If we don't see another one, I'm okay with that. But if someone comes up with a great idea and can pull it off well, I'll be there to check it out.
I just won't hold my breath.
But what do you think?
For me, this one gets a 5 / 10.
AVPR: Aliens vs Predator - Requiem is rated R for plenty of violence, gore, disturbing imagery and language, as well as a little bit of teen sensuality.