Aliens and Predators – Where Next For the Movie Franchises?
After almost thirty years of Alien action and over twenty years since the Predator first burst onto our screens, these two giants of genre cinema seem to have settled into their own series together, which in turn seems to have created its own genre of double-header movies. Taking its cue from Freddy Vs Jason (a shallow, woeful excuse of a film), the first AVP was released in 2004 to much fanfare and critical disdain. Its sequel, Alien Vs Predator: Requiem followed in 2007, an the credibility of the series seemed to have been dealt another blow thanks to a laughable script and substandard execution. Still, credibility aside, the films have been hugely successful and an inevitable third entry is being worked on already. Will it be continuing case of diminishing returns or will this third AVP have anything in the way of originality or impact? Here we’ll take a look at all of the Alien movies, both Predator movies and the AVP series thus far. Then there’ a look at what may be on the way for the third.
Lets start with the Alien films. Ridley Scott’s original 1979 masterpiece still stands up today. It really hasn’t dated that much, and despite everyone knowing exactly what is going to happen to the ill fated crew of the Nostromo, it still packs a massive punch. The iconic visuals, including the various Alien designs by HR Giger, are still stunning, and the direction is impeccable- not shot wasted. A masterclass in atmosphere and pacing, this is an absolute must-see in every possible sense. Essential.
James Cameron filled Scott’s shoes more than admirably, and delivered an incredibly satisfying sequel in 1986. The focus was much more on action and spectacle, but Cameron’s blockbuster didn’t let the characters slip, giving us some real tension as our heroes are picked off one by one by the eponymous creatures. The Powerloader Vs Alien Queen scene at the film’s climax is thrilling to this day.
David Fincher brought us the bleak and claustrophobic third entry in the series in 1992. Set on a distant penal colony, the reawakened Ripley faced the feral Alien creature once again. The finale, with Ripley’s iconic suicide as the Alien Queen chest bruster rips through her body, is something viewers will never forget. A highly underrated film, this is an incredibly tense piece of science fiction drama.
Jeane-Pierre Jeunet was responsible for directing the fourth film back in 1997, with a script by Buffy creator Joss Whedon. While it carried an ingenious visual style and some great scenes, the lacklustre script and clunky acting from much of the cast left fan opinion divided. It is an enjoyable popcorn movie, but after what came before, it falls short of being great.
But what of the Predator films? There have only been two solo Predator movies to date, and the never saw the heady heights of the early Alien films. Still, they continue to be popular. The original, Schwarzenegger-starring 1987 action romp was a great story of survival against a terrifying foe. By the end of the movie, there’s just Arnie and the Predator left standing, and the outcome, while predictable, is very satisfying. The Predator comes across as a lethal, ninja-like beast capable of sheer, terrifying malice, and all in the name of sport. An iconic movie that has sadly had its potency watered down by what would later become the Predator franchise.
Predator 2 came in 1990. Danny (Lethal Weapon) Glover headed up this by-the-numbers sequel. The action is moved to Los Angeles, and the Predator is loose on the streets. Even without Arnie, this sequel is still a fun way to spend 90 minutes, even if it doesn’t quite match the ferocity of its predecessor, or the tension.
Alien Vs Predator arrived in 2004. The film that had been mooted for ten years (ever since the original AVP comics showed up from Dark Horse) opened to a great deal of fanfare and made a ton at the box office. Once the fury had died down, the empty plot and nonexistent script became the stuff of legend. What it did have was some very exciting set pieces that thrilled fans the world over. What the film lacked in coherent story it more than made up for in spectacle. The battles between the Aliens and Predators are superb, if more in the vein of superhero movies than the original versions of the beasts. A fan favourite for sure, but more a Hollywood blockbuster than a serious science fiction film.
The terror came to a small American town in the oddly-plotted sequel, Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem. The violence was raised to an al-new level, as was the gore. Again aimed squarely at the blockbuster audience, it lacks a decent script and has an almost MTV style direction. The set-pieces come thick and fast, and while the viewer may not care in the slightest for the human characters, the scenes featuring the Aliens and Predator are gripping and thrilling in equal measure.
But what of the third film and the future of the two separate franchises? There has long been an Alien 5 in the offing, but it has never seen the light o day, and the AVP series may well have killed the chances for the Aliens and Predators to strike out on their own for a good few years yet. As for Predator 3, nothing is even being considered now. Word is that the third AVP movie will see the series shift back into deep space, which is exactly where the films should have been set in the first place. Some fans have called out for the third film to have no human cast, and thus no risk of terrible dialogue, but sadly there is little chance of Hollywood putting out a film with pretty actors in it these days, which is a shame. A full on art house AVP film would still bring in the audience of the previous films and also win some of those much-missed credibility points that these cinema icons lost a long time ago.
Andrew writes for the pop culture/memorabilia site movies, tv and games memorabilia site Starstore.com and its popular movies, TV and memorabilia news blogs, covering the latest and greatest in film, TV, music and comics merchandise and collectibles.