In the past week, I spent some time examining examples of the products that made the Alien franchise so compelling and with The Predator offering the next chapter into the exploits of the honourable Yautja, it’s clear to see why they are the mainstays of the sci-fi world. Both franchises have had similar premises, placing a collection of humans against a couple of the respective species finest soldiers. This raises the question of who is better? One film managed to gather all three candidates into the proverbial ring for the ultimate championship title card: Alien vs Predator.
In the futuristic year of 2004, excavations by the Wayland company reveal a massive pyramid-like structure underneath the frozen island of Bouvetøya. Eager to see what treasures remain to underneath, Charles Wayland establishes an international team of explorers and archaeologists to uncover the ruins. Yet in doing so, the team uncovers the preserved previous hosts, and it seems they’re more than interested in getting the interlopers involved in their competition.
By setting the film in contemporary times, A.V.P. at its heart utilises heavily the tropes of slasher horror films, and by doing so showcases the adaptability of these iconic characters to other situations outside of sci-fi horror. Tropes such as establishing “the rules of survival” (that are almost made to be broken), the team being dwindled one by one, recognisable and relatable stock characters all help to make A.V.P. similar to the previous films yet offers a fresh entry point for newcomers.
The film knows what the audience has come to see and takes great pleasure in building up the suspense and tension of finally seeing these two titans fight. Normally in these types of situations involving divided sides, it would be unwise to take sides, yet in this case, it appears we’re supposed to root for the predators. It’s a bold direction, but make sense considering how The Predators have a code of honour, and The Aliens are just killing machines.
This eternal struggle is brought to life by its location, this frozen tundra helps evoke films like The Thing, and the underground Pyramid complex is a welcome addition. Not only as a fun and claustrophobic arena but as an entertaining nod to how far back in human history these two have been settling their differences on our planet. As well as offering a huge plot thread that can be explored in future generations of this spin-off franchise.
Alien vs. Predator is what happens when you combine the established sci-fi horror legends with the contemporary slasher horror of the day. It helps introduce a whole host of different and unaware movie-goers into what makes these characters the juggernauts that they are, as well as providing the answer to the decades-old question of who would win in a fight between the two? Despite the tag-line proclaiming that “Whoever wins… we lose”, the audience is actually in for just the opposite.
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