Alien vs. Predator on Blu-ray disc
It’s deadly killing machine against deadly killing machine,and whoever wins, we lose.
A satellite owned by billionaire Charles Bishop Weyland (Lance Henriksen) has picked up something weird: a pyramid buried thousands of feet below the surface…of Antarctica. Naturally, they want to head to the ice continent to examine things a little closer, so they enlist a team of experts, including cold weather explorer Alexa Woods (Sanaa Lathan), archaeologist Sebastian de Rosa (Raoul Bova), and geologist Graeme Miller (Ewen Bremner). Not to mention several other random soon-to-be-victims, mostly riggers and drillers and whatnot.
After a lengthy trip to the large icy rock, the team is puzzled to discover that someone has beaten them to the punch. Upon their arrival they find a large shaft already drilled in the ice, leading directly to the underground pyramid. This is about the point at which most logical people would leave well enough alone. But characters in sci-fi/horror/action movies are very rarely logical…
So down the team goes. After taking their sweet time, they finally enter the pyramid, awed by its size and scale, and by the fact that it appears to have characteristics of at least three ancient civilizations. Whether it be on purpose or not, the team eventually splits up (of course they do!). Some stumble upon what appears to be a hi-tech gun cabinet, while others come across a room full of eggs.
Oh, did we forget to mention that an Alien Queen is being held captive in the pyramid, just recently awakened by…something…for some reason? And if you’re able to put two and two together, you probably already know that the Predators will be showing up pretty soon. Naturally, our human friends get caught in the middle of a really hardcore battle. Or perhaps they’re there for another reason?
Alien vs. Predator is the kind of film people will argue about for years to come. The more open-minded individuals will appreciate the effort that went into making it, and enjoy it for what it is: senseless, mindless fun. Others will detest it for not staying 100% true to both franchises and refuse to suspend their disbelief, thereby creating a chain reaction that results in them wasting 100 minutes of their life.
Fortunately, we fall into the former category. AVP is not a cinematic masterpiece. Certain aspects about it don’t even make a lick of sense. But who cares? We’re here to see the Aliens fight the Predators.
Some things must be mentioned, such as the far-fetched theory of a pyramid thousands of feet below the surface of Antarctica, which would have had to have been built millennia ago, before the continent was just a big chunk of ice. This also would have been long before humans ever came up with the idea of civilization. It also must be mentioned that the alien gestation period seems normal in some unfortunate souls, but is greatly accelerated in others, whatever the particular scene calls for.
However, these are mere trifles, counteracted by all the fun tributes to the series’ that are thrown (subtly and otherwise) into the film – but we won’t spoil them for you here.
Paul W.S. Anderson has the thankless job of directing the movie (and also wrote the script based on a story by himself and original Alien creators Dan O’Bannon & Ronald Shusett). His work includes such underrated flicks as Resident Evil, Soldier, and Event Horizon, and as a talented filmmaker he’s managed to make a better Alien vs. Predator movie than you might expect.
Sure there are holes, and the movie isn't going to win any awards, but it’s a great-looking, fun flick that manages to look like it had a bigger budget than it did. The sets are huge and elaborate, the effects are phenomenal, and the action very well staged. It even comes up with a pretty good (if not completely satisfying) explanation as to why things are the way they are.
Alien vs. Predator rocks, despite what some naysayers would say (which would probably be ‘nay’). It’s pure popcorn fun, provided you don’t plan on taking it too seriously. Certain folks should save themselves the agitation and just stick with the original series’.
On Blu-ray, AVP is just as good. Presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, at 1080p, of course, the sparkling video transfer features great use of dark elements, a good blend of colors, and appropriately subtle flesh tones. Detail is always perfectly visible, and the lack of light never interferes with our viewing of the action (unless it was the filmmaker’s intent). It isn't the best, most reference quality Blu-ray we've reviewed, but it's excellent nonetheless.
The dts 5.1 Master Lossless audio track will give you a feeling of being trapped on all sides by monsters that can kill you without a second thought. Even when there is not much going on, the surround speakers always try and keep busy. Whether it be the score, random dialogue, or just good old fashioned sound effects, they’re always doing something, while the front channels handle the bulk of the work. It’s during the action scenes that you can hear aliens, predators, and people screaming or shouting or whatever it is that they do in such situations. At one point we were forced to jump slightly as an alien leaped from the back of the room into the TV, a bit that was very nicely done.
The Blu-ray also includes both theatrical and unrated extended version of the movie - if you need more of it! You can access it either (via branching) as an alternate version of the movie, or as a standalone section in the extras.
Moving on, we also get two audio commentaries. The first is by director Anderson and actors Henriksen and Lathan. Generally what happens is that one of the actors will say something or tell a story from the shoot that will get Anderson going on an even better anecdote or explanation. His passion for making movies is commendable, and he almost always has something interesting to say. The second commentary is by visual effects supervisor John Bruno and creature effects designers/creators Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff, Jr. This is only for those interested in the technical aspects of filmmaking, as they talk endlessly about special effects and how they did the things they did. They do, however, also ask each other some intelligent questions, leaving ample opportunity for intelligent answers. One of the better technical tracks we've heard.
There's also a trivia track and the Blu-ray disc is enhanced for D-Box motion control, if you have one of those system.
Alien vs. Predator, from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Jim Bray's columns are available from the TechnoFile Syndicate.