The Alien and Predator franchises are amongst my favorite examples of Sci-fi/Horror. Alien and it’s three sequels (yes, even David Fincher’s hated Alien 3) are in steady rotation in my DVD player, as are the two Predator films (I secretly like the second, Arnie-less film better than the first, but don’t tell anyone). While Fox sort of dropped the ball with the not-quite-as-bad-as-everyone-says-it-is Alien vs. Predator – which was saddled with a very unsavory PG-13 rating – the studio has (sort of) redeemed itself with the mindless gorefest, Alien vs. Predator: Requiem.
Starting off where the first film in the series ended, a Predator vessel is leaving earth after claiming its dead from the arctic “proving grounds”, where human intervention interfered with a Predator rite of passage. One of the fallen warriors has been implanted with the embryo of a xenomorph (Alien) and a vicious Predator/Alien hybrid hatches, killing the Predator crew and forcing the ship down smack dab in the middle of a remote Colorado town. In a very short time, Aliens start bursting out of the townsfolk’s chests, while a bunch of humans we don’t care about try to fight them off. Meanwhile, the real star of the film – a bad ass Predator who takes a solo trip to Earth to clean up the mess – shows up and makes hay of scuttling Aliens, unwary humans, and the super hybrid critter that seems to have the best of both worlds encased in its nigh impenetrable exoskeleton. Along the way we are introduced to former jailbird, Dallas (Pasquale) and his former crime buddy/current sheriff, Morales (Ortiz), as well as the super hot Iraq war vet, Kelly (Ayelsworth), who, along with a slew of other caricatures, scramble to survive both the Alien onslaught and the Predator’s clean-up duty.
To call AVP: Requiem brainless would be akin to telling a blind guy who shouldn’t play Jai Lai; the point is it doesn’t really matter. This is basically Itchy and Scratchy, but with scarier looking antagonists and more glistening entrails. If you’re an Alien fan, you want to see chests burst, extendable jaws penetrate skulls, and acid melt faces. If you like Predator, you want strangely organic weaponry, infra-red vision, and whispery taunts. All of that stuff is on display here, and the ludicrously high body count makes for a nearly endless variety of fan favorite modes of death, and a newly discovered means of hatching aliens without a queen assures us that the Predator never runs out of xenomorph scum to snuff out.
Directed by Colin and Greg Strause (aka The Brothers Strause) AVP: Requiem is all guts, no story. The location, characters, and architecture simply serve as a hastily drawn backdrop against which the Aliens and Predator can kill, kill, kill. I laughed my head off at the attempts to make me care for the human characters, but not nearly as much as I laughed at watching them die. Is AVP:R a great film? Of course not, but it makes it is fun film, and The Brother’s Strause more than make up for the PG-13 AVP’s lack of gore with absolute buckets of the stuff here.
Fox presents AVP:R in a drop-dead-gorgeous 2.35:1 transfer that bursts off of the screen and into your living room with three-dimensional goodness. This is a very dark movie, and the transfer handles the color palette beautifully, with rich, grain-free blacks, cool greens and blues, and glorious reds. This is one of the best transfers I’ve seen yet, and constantly found myself saying so to anyone within earshot during the three times I’ve already spun this disc.
The thunderous lossless DTS-HD audio is just as flawless as the video transfer, with wonderful sonic projection, gut-rattling bass, and crystal clear dialogue. The sound effects give your satellite speakers a workout, while the subwoofer is pulsating in near-overdrive. This is an eviction quality soundmix that will have your neighbors begging for mercy!
AVP:R is loaded with extra goodies, albeit mostly 480p (save for the HD stills gallery and theatrical trailers, including this film’s “red band” trailer), including several behind-the-scenes featurettes including:; Prepare for War: The Making of AVP-R; Fight to the Finish: The Making of AVP-R; AVP-R: The Nightmare Returns - Creating the Aliens; Crossbreed: The PredAlien; Building the Predator Homeworld; Still Design Galleries; Designing the Predator; Designing the Alien; Designing the PredAlien; On Set: The Rooftop; On Set: The Sewer; On Set: The Hive; On Set: Cast & Crew, as well as two feature length commentary tracks. Blu-ray exclusive extras include a Weyland Yutani Archive for Profile 1.1 compliant players (update your firmware you lazy sods!) that allows viewers to access rather detailed “company profiles” of both the Alien and Predator species. Neat!
There’s also a second “Digital Copy” disc that includes a standard definition version of the film to dump onto your laptops or share with your mobile devices.
If you want to see a smart Sci-fi flick, go rent Blade Runner. However, if you’ve got a jones for campy horror and the sort of carnage you would expect when two of cinema’s most prolific killing machines go head to head amidst a bevy of human cannon fodder - all with reference quality video and audio, I might add - AVP: Requiem will, at the very least, feed that need. This Blu-ray release brings the cinema experience home and then some, and the extensive bonus materials add up to nearly a feature's worth of goodies alone. So give this unfairly maligned film a second look on Blu-ray! You may not fall in love with AVP:R, but you won't exactly hate yourself in the morning, either.