Just as the dot com bubble of the 90s inevitably had to burst, so the great tide of films from the 1980s must also at some point die off.
Two of the greatest franchises of that era for horror / sci-fi fans where of course, the Aliens series and the less numerous, but just as well liked, Predator movies.
At their height with Alien, Aliens and Alien 3 the original Alien trilogy told a story of an amoral, insect like breed of creatures that were able to survive (and kill) their way into any ecosystem. They seemed tied to the destiny of one human more than most, Sigorney Weaver's Ripley, ranking up there with Bruce Willis for 'in a vest climbing through tunnels' action during the 80s.
The Predator series with just two outings during its height was an equally fascinating and original IP. A race of supreme hunters from a galaxy many thousands of years away would come to earth and hunt 'worthy' prey using a variety of high tech gadgets and bare faced strength, this is one of the movies that made Arnie's early career.
In the mid 90s a comic crossover of the two occured, with writers and artists portraying a universe in which the Predators actually captured and 'bred' Aliens to use as hunting species. Indicating the Predators had found their most deadly foe and that they had, played a little fast and loose, introducing them to various environments in order to hunt them in the wild.
Then, someone, somewhere, turned around and said "Let's make that a movie" and my life went to shit.
What could have been a true great of cinema, an update of the Aliens and Predator saga with modern effects and technologies applied, in a slick, tense, occasionally bloodridden piece of celluloid art, became instead 'Disney's big aliens fight each other until something stops them starring Whinny the Pooh and friends'.
The lamentable Aliens 4 or 'Resurrection' should have told us where this franchise was going. Just as with evrything else post 2000 it was designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator, out of whom, the most money could be made in the lifetime of the product, i.e. children.
The moment the first AvP was rated PG I knew the only thing that was going to work in this movie were the product tie ins.
In summary the first film was a piss poor action-fest which saw seemingly hundreds of predators (Best known for working alone) dispatched by fat, sluggish aliens that had been buried, and discovered, under the ice by a small human research team.
So I expected very little of this second outing, in fact I hoped, perhaps they could do a Star Wars Episode III and just salvage some of the wreck they'd made of my childhood.
So myself and the intrepid Spike headed into town to watch the film, along with my missus to get a decent consensus view.
The opening credits told me all I needed to know. They had blended the style (By this I mean fonts) of the Alien films with those of the Predator universe. A homage to those of us who had actually seen these titles upon first release.
That was the highlight of the movie.
From there in a loose plot, continuing the end of the first movie where a predator alien hybrid runs amok on the predators ship, causing it to crash in the United States, and the ensuing carnage of a small town which sends in the marines only to be double crossed by a besuited grey, Government man from the Government occurs. Now that's novel.
We get elements of Scream and I know What you Did Last Summer with a tacked in group of teens and their romantic sub-plot. There are literally tonnes of scenes inserted which are supposed to be in homage to the first films, but actually just look like poorly ripped off afterthought throughout.
As with Freddy and Jason, it simply becomes, who will die and how. True to form we get a tough female lead, whos acting is so unbelievably shoddy that Weaver's alien 4 'I'm a clone' outing really is oscar nominating beside it.
IF the Aliens and Predators in the story had followed their biological programming and attacked only living beings the entire acting cast would have been safe because they were clearly made of some form of wood.
The film rips off the car chase scene from Aliens, the 'Alien lust' scene from Alien 3, the Predator injured scene from Predator one, the Aliens swimming scene from Alien 4 and numerous others with reckless abandon.
It also has its signature shock moment, much like Saw or Hills have eyes etc. This is to do with the way the predalien hybrid breeds. It appears that the new species 'pumps eggs' into already pregnant female hosts via their throats which then burst form their wombs. It's pretty grim to watch the insemination sequence, but beyond the intitial shock value it makes no sense. It basically resembled very bad porn, indeed Spike remarked to me halfway through "Now thats a deep throat". Quite.
The picture quality was very good although relied on far too many cliches, steam, flashing lights, darkness, rain and power failure being the predominant visual effects. All overused and badly manipulated to create a sense of total non-tension.
The sound was probably my biggest complaint, it was quite simply too loud. It was loud to the point of changing heart rhythm and whilst this can be good in real moments of power, the volume and aggression of the effects didnt fit the weakly acted film and certainly had me with my fingers in my ears several times (Which incidently saved me from some of the more awful dialogue).
The story was filled with many holes and contradictions, and if you were a true fan of either franchise or both it was just a giant swiss cheese of thing (Why did the predator attack an unarmed man running away from him? How did the predalien evolve a whole new reproductive system in one generation? Why did the aliens kill most of their victims and not others? Why did the gestation period for the chest bursters vary form five minutes to almost three days? Why can the predalien only use females for new aliens? Why are these aliens regular alien and not predalien hybrids? Why are there no cross breeds generated for humans a la Alien 4? How did the government explain not one but two nuclear explosions on US soil to the public and everyone else? Why did the female lead simply stop crying about her husband after his gruesome death in five seconds?) I could go on and on but it serves no purpose.
My good lady who has never seen the original movies thought it was 'fun' and 'noisy' she, like the audience is was designed for will no doubt love the 'shlock factor' and the 'two monsters in a horror movie' scenario.
The slow rot that began with Aliens 4, and accelerated to a death knell with AVP1 is finally completed with this movie. Lucas has slaughtered Star Wars upon the alter of 'most franchise dollars available' and the makers of AVP2 have also finally put a good idea to its death.
Bleed out all love for the previous films, add the inability to make a good movie from scratch, overloud soundtrack with repetative use of theme music, sprinkle in a 'ready to die' cast and some ass achingly poor acting and then add a signature chock scene and the executives wish to get as many toys and posters out of a 15 cert thats possible and you've got AVP2.
Recommendation: If your little ones are a bit too old for Whinny the Poohs big movie or Pixars 'OMFG look we animated a frog!' and you dont understand films such as 'Charlie Wilsons War' then please go and see this movie and buy all of the associated shit. You'll be helping kill the last good ideas of the 80s.