We've invited our friend John P. Higgins to share with us his thoughts about, well.. pretty much whatever he feels like. Schlock Games, Movies, TV-nothing is sacred. John's columns will be a bit more in-depth than our usual reviews, and may feature significant spoilers. You've been warned, but you'll like it.-The Management
This past weekend I watched Aliens Vs. Predator: Requiem, which was probably one of the most visually misogynistic movies I’ve ever seen this side of American Psycho.
Now, the Giger’s Alien is a pretty horrid creature in and of itself, with it’s perverse use of the human body as an incubator after a borderline sexual assault from the infamous face hugger, the beast dehumanizes everything around it.
The first time I tried to see this movie, it was with a friend who is a staunch opponent of violence against children, pregnant women or animals in most contexts. So as one of the creatures prepared to assault a pregnant woman, he cried out with his signature, “Aw, heelll-naw!”, and we left before the true nastiness could begin.
Through a compulsion for closure, I decided to see the film again. And since I saw the directors cut, it was even more violent and disturbing than I remember from what I caught in the theater.
There’s a creature in this film that forces a tube down the throat of a pregnant woman, and her throat throbs luridly as it forces its spawn into her lower torso, where she already has a baby, because it only attacks pregnant women. Now, when taken out of context, the scene is extremely offensive. When taken in context, it’s is the icing on a cake of sci-fi depravity the likes of which we haven’t seen since Event Horizon.
On top of that, characters that should have lived-because they didn’t have sex at any point-die anyway. It’s a rule in horror movies that if you don’t have sex or do drugs you don’t die, making nearly all of them an allegory for wildly excessive retribution visited upon youth by outside forces. But apparently, if the horror is from space, everyone is fair game. In the case of this film, the young and/or the pregnant are the proverbial chum in the water.
In addition to this nastiness, I hate the idea that the Aliens apparently have made it to earth on several occasions, making Ellen Ripley’s eventually fatal quest to keep them off-planet sadly moot, perhaps even more than her being cloned in the fourth film.
As the movie opens, a hybrid of the titular Predator and Alien crash lands on earth in a stolen space ship, and the standing governing body of the Predator race apparently sends an elite “cleaner” who takes care of these sorts of things. This particular Predator is a gangly sort of cross between a CIA agent, a Green Beret and a park ranger. I found the concept of Earth as a sort of intergalactic wild-life preserve to be rather funny, but when the only humor of a movie is more from the things you have to think of after the fact, something is lacking.
A good amount of action is spent in a massive sewer system that seems completely out of place in the small southwestern-western town of Gunnison, Co., standing in for the typical isolated, suburban Mainstreet, USA, where aliens, zombies, vampires and werewolves invariably schedule their showdowns with humans and each other between Spring parades and local music festivals.
There are a ton of issues throughout the film. Details that would ordinarily grab my attention are wrong, and other details that you don't care about are over-emphasized. An example in the former category has one character coming from the U.S. "ArmyMarines", judging from the half and half uniform she wears upon her arrival home from Inconsequencistan. She is a member of the branch that has female Stryker combat vehicle drivers, of which I’m fairly sure there are few.
On the other extreme, too much time is devoted to a character’s back story (whose name I don’t even remember, despite other characters screaming it before they die several times) about jail time and vague crimes that may have been committed whilst a member of the police force (though it’s never made clear). His entire “dark past” turns out to be wholly irrelevant in the grand scheme of an alien invasion, as most petty crime wouldn’t make you capable of handling sub-machine guns, let alone an extra-terrestrial shot-gun intended for creatures two feet taller than you.
Topping this mess is the inevitable “Man is the real monster” ending in which a shady government organization nukes the entire town to prevent the spread of the deadly phallus-headed Aliens, killing the remainder of the town's initial 5,409, minus the survivors who escape on a hospital helicopter, which of course the surviving veteran ArmyMarine knows how to fly as well (which means she had one of those rare military jobs in which she learned to drive a Stryker and fly a chopper). The argument could be made here that somewhere in her back story, she learned to fly a chopper as a civilian, but that’s giving the production far more credit than they gave me as an audience member.
The final insult occurs after the survivors land and they are confronted by a group of face painted commandos who insist they were “only following orders.” That’s not what got to me, though. What annoyed me was the surviving-woman-who-was-supposed-to-also-be-a-member-of-the-nebulous-military, regardless of branch, should have kicked that guy’s ass until candy came out and asked him if it would be acceptable if she nuked his hometown in the process of “following orders.” Instead, she shrugs it off and looks wistfully at the sky, where we are supposed to see her slight resemblance to Sigourney Weaver.
Aggressively terrible as that ending was, it doesn’t compare to the film's actual tacked-on ending, in which a man in a suit, who at this point is a war-criminal-having nuked more people than were killed in 9/11, delivers the Predators’ shotgun-like weapon to a Ms. Yutani.
This last scene was, of course, a desperate grasp for continuity with the series-as Yutani is the other half of the soon to be Weyland-Yutani Corp. We met Weyland’s CEO in the first AVP, and, as in this film, we didn’t much care then either.
On a final note, a film snob moment: The finest scenes in any film involving the Predator are the scenes where the Predator is alone on screen and doing its thing, telling a story entirely with physical acting. It is pure cinema to have an actor tell a story through motion alone, rubber suit or not. I found it fascinating in the first Predator, and still interesting in the second. AVP sorely lacked that little touch, and AVP:R at least had the good sense to bring it back. Unfortunately, that’s really all the sense it had.
Management again-Independent of Higgins' experiences, we happened to screen AVP:R at our Alien Invader Event. Yeah, we shut it off after 45 minutes out of sheer boredom.