Monday, March 18, 2013

Predator Week (Extended) – Everything Else

I ended up going over five posts for Predator Week, but I’m sure you guys won’t mind. Because today is the day that I talk about all of the other stuff. This is going to be even more stream-of-consciousness than usual, so bear with me. I did some last-minute viewing and perusing for this one, so I’m going to write as it comes to me.
            I watched Paul WS Anderson’s Alien Versus Predator when I got home this morning (Thursday). Yes, I do own that movie and I bought it because I am a fan of Anderson’s stuff and there were things about the movie that I really liked.

There are also a lot of things about that movie that I do not like. At all. I don’t want to use this post to review a single movie, so I’m just going to hit on a few things:
  • Aside from Lance Henrikson and Spud from Trainspotting the cast is just awful. The female lead delivers lines like somebody who has never had to deal with shitty dialogue before and that just won’t fly in an Anderson movie. There’s a certain amount of gleeful abandon you have to possess (see – Milla Jovovich) to make it work. This lady is not gleeful. As a matter of fact, she’s a downright drag. Everybody is. The tone of the movie doesn’t even feel like an Anderson joint because nobody is having any fun.
  • The Predators look goofy as fuck. Why are they so fat? And all of the extra bullshit on their armor is absolutely unnecessary. The minor changes between Predator and Predator 2 were perfect. They didn’t seem like upgrades so much as differences in design. The armor in AvP looks like Rob Liefeld designed X-Treem Prederators for a 90’s comic book.
  • The Predators’ weapons, however, were awesome. The Glaive-like thing, the retracting trident spear, and the detail of the constricting net winding up were all very cool to see. And I have to say that the Predators did move well. All of the fight scenes looked great. My only issue with them was the cinematographer’s use of quick cuts and shaky cam. That’s lazy as shit and made the fights and big action scenes less impactful.
  • The Xenomorphs also looked amazing. Actually, all of the effects in the movie were outstanding. Which is a trademark of Anderson’s work. There were times where I actually couldn’t tell if things were practical or CGI and that’s pretty impressive.
  • While I was hoping for the story from the original AvP series from Dark Horse, this story is actually very good and makes a whole lot of sense. The concept of Predators building pyramids as a giant hatchery and breeding ground for Xenomorphs is cool. And the remote setting works. Anderson went to great pains to not contradict anything from previous or possible future films and I think he succeeded. Also, it seemed like they were playing with the idea of making the female lead the equivalent of Machiko Noguchi from the comics. But then didn’t.
  • One Xenomorph does not equal one Predator. While the fight between one of the Predators and one of the Xenomorphs in that one area is visually awesome, it doesn’t work. The Xenomorphs’ strength is in sheer numbers. One-on-one they shouldn’t survive against Predators. And the thing is, that fight would have been even more awesome if it had been against five Xenomorphs. Heck, within the same movie a small group of Predators is shown fending off a swarm of Xenomorphs for a time.
  • All of the stuff with the Queen was awesome. From the egg chamber setup to her interaction with the Warriors to how they ended up freeing her by dripping their acid blood on the chains to the big final fight scene. Every shot of the Queen looked great and the fact that she was so well characterized without ever uttering a word was impressive.
  • It was totally unacceptable to make this a PG-13 movie. Combining two of the best R-rated franchises of all time should not have watered them down. It boggles the mind that Kenner was making “5 and up” toys based on the earlier R-rated movies and McFarlane Toys – who have no boundaries whatsoever – ended up making the PG-13 toys.
I can’t totally pan this thing. There are some truly great ideas and visuals that just got bogged down by decisions that were made to appease FOX and their perception of theater audiences at the time. I think if this same movie were made now a lot of things would be very different.
2 out of 5

And then there’s Alien Versus Predator: Requiem

Apparently I let somebody borrow that one and never got it back. Either that or it was one of the movies that we lost in the flood. I’m not sure. But I wasn’t able to watch it again in time for this. I remember liking it more than AvP, but I’ve only seen it once. I bought it, but never watched it again. Not the best sign. I might do a review down the road, because now I have to find out.

Discussing Dark Horse’s Alien and Predator comics is a daunting task. There are so many of them, it’s been a long time since I read most of them, and even the Alien Versus Predator series aren’t that fresh in my mind despite the fact that I’ve read them all within the past few years thanks to the Omnibus editions.

But I can tell you where I got into Dark Horse’s comics. As a matter of fact, the series might well have been the first comics I bought from Dark Horse.

As I have mentioned before, Chris Claremont’s run on Uncanny X-Men is what made me a comic book collector. Batman as a character was my gateway and opened me up to reading comic books, but Claremont’s compelling ongoing narrative is what hooked me. So when I found out (possibly through Previews, possibly from the guys at the comic shop) that Claremont was writing a comic about Aliens and Predators I had no choice but to check it out.

Alien/Predator: Deadliest of the Species is an epic, 12-issue comic book series written by Claremont and drawn by Jackson Guice and Eduardo Barretto. Oh, and another big selling point were the beautiful covers by John Bolton. It ran from late 1993 through early 1995 and it changed my mind about licensed media tie-in comic books. Not that I had even heard that phrase at that point, but I knew from experience that comic books that were directly tied into movie projects tended to suck.

But DOTS (normally I hate abbreviating things, but I’m not typing “Alien/Predator: Deadliest of the Species” more than once) was a high water mark of 90’s comics. The story was typical Claremont – layers of intrigue, tons of engrossing characters, and a level of personal drama that stopped just shy of being soap opera-esque. The visuals were distinctive and created a very different world that sucked you into the narrative. I wouldn’t know this until later, but it feels almost like a Moebius comic in its other-worldliness. 
I’m honestly not quite sure how to describe the plot without giving too much away, but it takes place in the future when Earth has been overrun by Xenomorphs. The central character is the trophy wife of a powerful man. There is a big, mysterious secret. There are mercenaries and there are Predators and there is a villain more insidious and evil than the Aliens or Predators. It’s a damned good read and I’d put it up against any current comics. The whole thing is collected in Alien vs. Predator Omnibus Volume 2, along with a few other stories worth your while.

One of the most surprising entries are the Batman Versus Predator comics, a joint effort between DC Comics and Dark Horse. There were three different miniseries and the first one actually predated DOTS by a couple of years. Dave Gibbons wrote and the Kubert brothers provided the art. It was essentially Predator 2 with Batman instead of Danny Glover and if you think that’s a great idea you’re right. Despite being a complete rehash of the sequel, which was already very similar to the original; Batman Versus Predator was a fun miniseries.

I own the second series and liked it so much that I didn’t buy the third.

There are a lot more crossovers featuring Predators - Tarzan Versus Predator, Alien Versus Predator Versus Terminator, Batman Versus Superman Versus Alien Versus Predator, Predator Versus Pee-Wee Herman (just kidding). I haven't read those, but I will if I come across them. I remember being particularly intrigued by the Tarzan one, but never picking it up for some reason.

And that's it for Predator Week. Come back tomorrow for a review of a toy I didn't think I'd bother buying, but ended up being thoroughly enchanted by. 


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