Set in the near future, well before the Alien films but after the Predatorfranchise, AVP has a group of scientists and security experts in the pay of the LanceHenriksen (Weyland, of the Weyland-Utani Corporation that plays such an important role in theAlien films) arrive in Antarctica. Here they find a pyramid buried deep in the ice, whichturns out to be a Predator training site. A trio of these creatures arrives for training, but thehumans have …crewed up the program, releasing the Aliens before the Predators can get hold ofthe necessary weapons. Cue the violence.
In the opening scene, a monitor is seen showing Frankenstein Meets the Wolf ManThat was the first of the monster match-ups, and that cheerful but far-from-classic programmergives you a sense of how you should approach this puppy. No, this is not a patch on theAlien films. Not even close. But then, director Paul W. S. Anderson (MortalKombat, Event Horizon, Resident Evil) is no Ridley Scott, James Cameron,David Fincher or Jean-Pierre Jeunet. His work does, however, stand up fine in comparison to thePredator films, and the story is respectful to both franchises, and should please fans ofboth monsters (if not of the films). The film is tight and exciting, and has good monster mashes.Which, when you get right down to it, is all one could reasonably have expected. It alsoacknowledges its debts not only to other movies, but to the Dark Horse Comics. The alternatebeginning is a short Antarctic prologue set in 1904.
There are both 5.1 and DTS options here, but the difference between the two escaped myinsensitive ears. The DTS might have a slightly stronger bass line, but it isn’t as if the bass is badon the other track. The environmental effects are excellent, whether we are hearing wind,explosions, or sinister echoes and hisses. The placement of the effects is very strong, and so isthe placement of the music cues — the result is most effective.
The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen picture is also terrific. There is no grain or edgeenhancement, and the contrasts are strong (which is good, given how much of the film takesplace in the dark). The image is extremely sharp, and the blacks are to die for. A very nicetransfer all round.
There are two commentary tracks here. Visual FX supervisor John Bruno and creature FXdesigners Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff, Jr. handle the more technical of the two. Moreinteresting, for my money, is the track hosted by Anderson, Henriksen and Sanaa Lathan. In anaround all the behind-the-scenes stuff, self-confessed fanboy Anderson points out all the little in-jokes and references to the other films. There are three short deleted scenes, and a making-offeaturette. The latter, in a spasm of honesty, is labelled “AVP Promo,” but it is in fact head andshoulders above most other featurettes of this kind. Other promotional elements are the film’sSuperbowl ad, Fox’s “Inside Look” and a spot for “American Dad.” There’s a gallery of comicbook cover art, and still more features for DVD-ROM. The menu’s main screen, intro andtransitions to the film are animated and scored. The result looks pretty cool, but also makes onethink perhaps a bit too much about a video game, a comparison which then carries over onto thefilm.
Enjoyable, but forgettable. But oh, how terrible this might have been.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentaries
- Making-of Featurette
- Deleted Scenes
- Comic Cover Art Gallery
- Superbowl Spot
- Inside Look
- DVD-ROM Features