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Dustin Putman

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Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem  (2007)
2 Stars
Directed by Colin Strause and Greg Strause
Cast: Steven Pasquale, Reiko Aylesworth, John Ortiz, Johnny Lewis, Ariel Gade, Kristen Hager, Sam Trammell, Robert Joy, David Paetkau, Chelah Horsdal, Gina Holden, Kurt Max Runte, Liam James, Tom Woodruff Jr., Ian Whyte.
2007 – 86 minutes
Rated: Rated R (for violence, gore and language).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, December 25, 2007.
2004's "Alien vs. Predator" played almost like a cruel joke to fans of both sci-fi/horror series' who were looking forward to seeing the title space creatures war off. A watered-down, virtually bloodless PG-13 bore, the film was cluelessly stripped by the powers that be of precisely the elements audiences go to these kinds of movies for. In a bid to right their wrongs, 20th Century Fox has set out with the R-rated "Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem" to return to all the violence and mayhem this new franchise off-shoot should have had in the first place. For that alone, you almost—with an emphasis on the word, almost—want to overlook its own scripting inadequacies and give the picture a pass.

Picking up where its predecessor left off, stowaway aliens on a predator-run spacecraft are the cause for a crash-landing to earth—more specifically, the sleepy Colorado town of Gunnison. While a predator with a grudge sets out in hot pursuit of the quickly multiplying aliens, the cold-blooded extraterrestrials lay a deadly path throughout the city. Joining forces to escape the invaders' wrath are, among them, Dallas (Steven Pasquale), who has picked the wrong week to return to his hometown after being gone for an unspecified amount of time; Dallas' teen brother, Ricky (Johnny Lewis), who has his eye on school hottie Jesse (Kristen Hager); police officer Morales (John Ortiz), and Iraqi War vet Kelly (Reiko Aylesworth), back from a tour of duty and trying to reconnect with daughter Molly (Ariel Gade).

"Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem" was directed by brothers Colin and Greg Strause, visual effects supervisors making their feature filmmaking debuts, and written by Shane Salerno (2000's "Shaft"), whose strong spot clearly isn't in penning human characters. The scrappy protagonists are the very definition of body-count fodder, paper-thin screenplay constructs whose development and arcs are tossed out the window after a first half of setup. For a time, it is okay that these characters are the embodiment of shopworn clichés; one doesn't expect much more than that from a genre movie called "Aliens vs. Predator," and the radical change in location to a populated U.S. city is refreshing. "The Brothers Strause," as they are credited in the end titles, do a professional job in depicting an alien/predator invasion and use a bevy of interesting settings (a high school, a cafe, a construction site, a hospital, etc.) to bring a sense of scope to the small-town milieu.

The opening ten minutes are enough to prove that this isn't going to be the kiddie show that the 2004 original was, what with a hunter (Kurt Max Runte) and his young son (Liam James) being attacked in the forest, both of their chests graphically ripped open by freshly incubated aliens. Since the cast are relative unknowns, the film also holds a certain unpredictability in who is going to die, and when. The problem is that one doesn't know enough about them to care. The myriad subplots among the humans are a waste of time since there is no satisfactory closure to any of them, including the relationship between Ricky and Jesse, and the mother-daughter duo of Kelly and Molly. Meanwhile, lead Dallas isn't built up enough to even bother explaining why he has come back to Gunnison to reunite with his younger brother. It doesn't help that the acting is barely adequate, at best; no one seems to have their heart in it, failing to react to situations in a realistic manner, and some look downright indifferent to the whole thing.

For audiences looking for a mildly entertaining and well-paced throwaway horror flick, "Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem" will suffice. Viewed as the latest entry of both "Alien" and "Predator," it is inconsequential and underwhelming. Scares are few and far between. Suspense is in short supply. As for the battle sequences pitting the slimy aliens against the metal-geared predator, they are plentiful but forgettable, nondescript freneticism shot in murky lighting. The film's consequently best and funniest moment hasn't a thing to do with the gory subject at hand, but is a line of dialogue, perfectly delivered. When Kelly questions the honesty of the National Guard when they claim to be coming to the rescue, another character defiantly says, "The government wouldn't lie to us." With sly comedy like that, maybe "Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem" would have been better off as a satire.
© 2007 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman