Alien Vs. Predator (2000)

An original civilizational revisionist historical angle, epic blockbuster action, and fight for the ages between the two best movie monsters of all-time, AVP delivers everything fans of either/both franchises could want: a big-ticket (but hyperviolent) movie crossover. 8/10.

Plot Synopsis: When the wealthy and ambitious Charles Bishop Weyland (Lance Henriksen) funds an expedition to Antarctica, he hopes to find a mysterious source of heat that has been detected. Led by a tough guide, Alexa Woods (Sanaa Lathan), Weyland and his team uncover a pyramid, but they also find malevolent parasitic aliens. Making matters worse, another extraterrestrial species, known as Predators, arrive to hunt the other aliens, with the humans caught in the middle of the conflict.

*Possible Spoilers Ahead*

Official CLC Review

The Two Greatest Movie Monsters

The Icons Of Extraterrestrial Bioterror: 1979’s Xenomorphs and 1986’s Predators Throw Down – And Sci-Fi Fans Rejoice

Photograph Courtesy Of: 20th Century Fox

Back in the 1930’s-1940’s, The Golden Age Of Monster Movies brought us tons of franchise and monster crossovers that served as benchmark symbiotic relationship spectacles that brought big box-office returns and served as blockbuster fluff that left movie-goers happy. From the Abbott & Costello films to Frankenstein Meets The Wolf-Man to Gojira x King Kong kaiju films to anime x comic book crossovers all the way to Avengers: Endgame fast-forward in 2019, that original concept has become a hallmark of meat-in-the-seats moviemaking – the sheer prowess and entertainment-value of having legendary creatures, characters, or calamities crossover being one that is a pretty safe bet to enthrall viewers of all ages. Two franchises that need no introduction in the world of sci-fi are Alien and Predator: perhaps the two most iconic, and easily two best, movie creatures and franchises in filmmaking. A lifelong Xenomorph-fan since I first witnessed that chestburster scene many years ago, I could not wait to see the ultimate biological organism/prey take on the ultimate hunter on the big-screen. A primally-fascinating civilizational revisionist historical angle, epic blockbuster action, and fight for the ages between the two best movie monsters of all-time balancing & deepening each’s lore, AVP delivers everything fans of both franchises could want for an exhilarating big-ticket (though hyperviolent) crossover.

The Civilizational Revisionist Arc

The Boldest Part Of AVP: The Historical Rewrite Of Mankind’s History In The Lens Of A Game Of Empires; Adds Depth To Lore

Photograph Courtesy Of: 20th Century Fox

The blockbuster pitch for AVP as far as storyline goes is fascinating: a primally-compelling civilizational revisionist historical angle that rewrites the existence of mankind and compels with mythological intrigue. A game of empires wherein Predators met with man millennia ago and were the ones who put our evolutionary dominance over the hierarchies of life on this Earth into motion by teaching our ancestral first civilization how to build pyramids and colonize, and thus worshipped as gods, is a phenomenal punch of intrigue as to why they would liberate our dominion over a planet? The catch is, nicely-scripted to maximize horror, a blood-sacrifice every 100 years wherein the proto-pyramid boasting architectural motif features from Egyptian, Aztec, and Cambodian cultures-to-follow underneath the Antarctica Ice serves as the field for the ultimate hunt: coming-of-age Predators must come out alive having killed the Xenomorphs birthed from the human sacrifices and survive to claim their ‘manhood’ and place in the clan. Everything about the plot is brilliantly-staged and reverberates all that perplexes and fascinates us about one of mankind’s most primal/driving questions: where did we come from, why us, and what horrors lurk out there and in our own planetary history behind-closed-doors? My favorite part of AVP, besides the epic blockbuster action (as I’ll address later), the concept of the film is as bold and fantasy-driven over-the-top as its original franchise-films: a plot that deepens the lore and grips our attention with deathly-fascination we must learn more about from the opening seconds.

The Arctic Setting & Characterization

The First Step Is The Discovery – An Elaborate Trick, Phenomenal Setting, & Bad Characters (Albeit Ones We Don’t Care Abt.)

Photograph Courtesy Of: 20th Century Fox

Of course, this plot is hidden to us beneath centuries’ worth of ice in the arctic – and that, unfortunately, means [sigh] we need some human characters to find out everything for us. Make no mistake about: the characters of AVP are bad. Cardboard-cutout characters cantankerously caricaturish and cataclysmically one-dimensional/shallow, they are but husks waiting for the hunt – with the exception of the infamous patriarch of Weyland Corporation surprisingly-humanized trying to find a legacy beyond stock-shares and sickness, and Sanaa Lathan’s [exposition-less] yet badass-heroine protagonist Alexa Woods. The difference is: who goes into an film titled Alien Vs. Predator and says: I care more about the humans than the monsters. The crew on this expedition serve their purpose in being trickfully-lured down to the pyramid, discovering its ancient historical secrets, and being breeders for the ultimate terror: Xenomorphs. They do so in a phenomenal location-setting in the howling mystery of primordial blue lifeless Antarctica (that beckons comparisons and nostalgia-reminisces to Carpenter’s 1984 The Thing in all the best ways) and one-of-a-kind pyramidal set work inside, as the film sets stage for the big-ticket event we really came to see: the hunt and lore-expansion.

The Ultimate Game/Hunt

The Blockbuster Achieves What It Promises 10x Over: Jaw-Droppingly Epic Alien Vs. Predator Action Sequences On Steroids

Photograph Courtesy Of: 20th Century Fox

The blockbuster action of AVP is about as epic as I could’ve possibly dreamed. Believe me: you feel the stakes of this once-in-a-century’s match of the titans in a lost tomb of historical significance – and the entertainment-value is on another level. The film achieves what it promises 10x over: jaw-droppingly staged and well-executed, massive-scale alien vs. predator sequences that will leave any fan of either [or both] franchises geeking out in happiness. The CGI & VFX required to bring the two titans of sci-fi monster movies to life is incredible: the big-ticket event feels very high-budget and gives it that exhilarating edge it needed; the fight scenes still look as good today 15+ years later as they did in the early-2000’s I haven’t found many films that look as good as from its comparatively VFX-nescient era. The cinematography is filled with shockingly-proficient shot constructions like our favorite shot of the xenomorph roaring above its predator-kill in the sacrifical chamber on a mountain of skills and intricate use of its believable special FX like slow-mo, long shots, and revolving camerawork that invokes a keen sense of action/adventure that should accompany a film like this for about as exciting and visually-provocative a canvas as I expected from AVP (one that might also be one of the best vs. films to-date on an ocular/spectacle-level). The orchestral score is serviceable, albeit stock/run-of-the-mill like its characters, capturing the terror and pulse-rattling action of seeing the ultimate predator hunt the ultimate prey/organism – an expedition filled with casualties.

A Hyperviolent Gore-Film

One Of The Most Violent & Gore-Inexorable Films Of Either Franchise’s History – One That [Should] Be Expected But Might Offend

Photograph Courtesy Of: 20th Century Fox

The visual canvas, though strikingly-beautiful and epic as believable in the realm of blockbuster fantasy sci-fi/horror, is one that is extremely hyperviolent. You thought one chestburster scene in the original Alien was enough to mess you up for life? Pssh, try multiple here. The violence is quite often overwhelming – even for fans of the original franchises that must acquiesce that this might be the most carnage-filled entry in either creature’s lore. Besides the fact that it overindulges its sweet-tooth for seeing many innocent people slaughtered in brutal, grotesque ways for seemingly no reason, many of them go against lore or preconceptions. The Predators kill the team above ice for no good reason – going against their no-women-or-children and no-unarmed only-fair-fights writing from Schwarzenegger’s ’86 film just for [hackneyed] entertainment-value.. I guess? Also, one sacrilegious plot decision was having Weyland – the patriarch of the company that is the entire reason for the Alien series’ many expeditions beyond the stars looking for Xenomorphs – be killed not by one himself.. but instead by a Predator cameoing from another franchise. That one hurt as a lifelong Alien fan. Besides that though, the film does a remarkable job of balancing both creatures so that each has its moments and neither truly wins or loses in the end – the Predators submerge the Queen and detonate the pyramid, but one chestburster hides and escapes to be reborn from a fallen-Predator in the final scene (one of the best possible ways and plot-twists to end the journey setting up for a sequel).

Conclusion

An Epic Monster Crossover

A Lore-Expanding, Well-Shot & Locationed, Primally-Fascinating, Civilizationally-Hierarchical Hunt For The Ages – Despite A Lackluster Character Cast & Hyperviolence

Photograph Courtesy Of: 20th Century Fox

Overall, AVP delivers exactly what it promised and achieves everything fans of both [or either] franchise could’ve expected: the ultimate hunt and once-in-a-century’s death-match between the two titans of sci-fi/horror creature features. The blockbuster pitch and civilizational historical rewrite of mankind’s history is one of the best and most primally-fascinating hooks into a mega-budget film I’ve seen – one that dramatically deepens the lore and hierarchies of each of its creatures while involving us as more than just damsels-in-distress or unfortunate bystanders/cameos to be hunted like the previous films. The CGI & VFX are phenomenal capturing the exhilarating pulse-rattling, expensive-feeling, big-ticket, machismo-filled, epic action scenes that remain jaw-dropping nearly two decades later as some of the best from the early-2000’s. The cinematography is shockingly-proficient and score serviceable – all together buffering the film from its major flaws: cookie-cutter characters lifeless even before the hunt [although no one should care much about the humans or expect Oscar-performances in a 1h30min blockbuster called Alien Vs. Predator] and hyperviolence amongst the most extreme from either franchise’s filmographies. A primally-fascinating civilizational revisionist historical angle, epic blockbuster action, and fight for the ages between the two best movie monsters of all-time balancing & deepening each’s lore, AVP delivers everything fans of both franchises could want for an exhilarating big-ticket (though hyperviolent) crossover. Whoever Wins, We Lose.

Official CLC Score: 8/10