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ALIEN VS. PREDATOR ($30) is a concept that could have been a contender on the motion picture screen, but instead the movie seems more like the Cliff Notes version of a comic book, than a sequel to two of the most thrilling action/science fiction movies of all time. Instead of building a story, ALIEN VS. PREDATOR depends upon the established fan base’s knowledge of the creatures that it brings together; thus forgoing a lot of exposition, as well as compressing the Alien life cycle we all know and love, into something more convenient for the movie’s time frame. Also keeping with the Cliff Notes approach, are the two dimensional human characters, which are given little or no character development, and are used primarily as cannon fodder in the film’s ensuing battle between the Alien and the Predators.

OK, now despite the criticisms, ALIEN VS. PREDATOR is actually a pretty serviceable action/science fiction offering for anyone for anyone with popcorn movie expectations. Set in present day, the plot of ALIEN VS. PREDATOR follows the discovery of an ancient pyramid buried under tons of ice in Antarctica, which comes to the attention of billionaire industrialist Charles Bishop Weyland (Lance Henriksen), when a previously undetected heat signature emanating from the pyramid is picked up by one of his company’s satellites. Quicker than you can say Tomb Raider, Weyland has assembled a specialized a team (from different disciplines), for the sole purpose of uncovering the pyramid- and ensuring the billionaire a little bit scientific immortality. However, lurking beneath the Antarctic ice, imprisoned inside the ancient pyramid, is an alien queen, who is kept there to breed more of her kind to satisfy the race of Predators in their ritualized ultimate hunt. As you might expect, our group of human explorers soon find themselves caught between the Aliens and the Predators, with little hope of surviving either species. The cast of ALIEN VS. PREDATOR also features Sanaa Lathan, Raoul Bova, Ewen Bremner, Colin Salmon, Tommy Flanagan, Joseph Rye and Agathe De La Boulaye.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made ALIEN VS. PREDATOR available on DVD in a 2.35:1 widescreen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. Despite being a somewhat dark movie, ALIEN VS. PREDATOR makes for a great looking DVD. The image is generally quite crisp and very nicely defined, although an occasional slightly softer looking shot crops up here and there. Colors are strongly rendered and the flesh tones appear quite natural. Blacks are right on the money, whites are clean and contrast is excellent. Additionally, the image boasts fine shadow detail, and a nice dimensional quality. The film elements used for the transfer appear pristine, although a noticeable grain structure does make its presence known in the darker sequences. Digital compression artifacts are held in check.

ALIEN VS. PREDATOR features 5.1 channel soundtracks in the flavors of Dolby Digital and DTS. The soundtrack provides just what you’d expect from a major studio action science fiction movie; it’s big, loud and aggressively mixed.  Sound effects are very well implemented in all the outlying channels during the big action sequences, plus there are some nice ambient effects during the quieter moments.  Dialogue is crisply rendered and is always completely intelligible.  Fidelity is top flight, the music sounds great- with a real sense of presence and the sound effects are mighty convincing.  The bass channel is full, deep and packs quite a wallop. As for the differences between Dolby Digital and DTS, the latter produces a warmer, more cohesive sound, with the standard bearer doing almost as well. French and Spanish surround tracks are also encoded onto the DVD, as are English and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some nice extras. Starting things off is the ability to watch an extended version of the film, with an alternate opening. Next up, are two audio commentaries for the theatrical version of the film. The first commentary features director Paul W.S. Anderson and actors Lance Henriksen and Sanaa Lathan, while the second includes visual effects supervisor John Bruno and creature effects creators Alec Gillis & Tom Woodruff. A twenty-three minute making of program is also included on the DVD, as are three deleted scenes, and Darkhorse comic book covers for their Alien Vs. Predator series.

ALIEN VS. PREDATOR may not be a classic like the original films that inspired this movie monster teaming, but it is a fun popcorn movie. The widescreen DVD looks great and boasts the kind of soundtrack the genre fans will love. Additionally, there are a few nice supplements on the disc, which definitely makes the DVD worth checking out.



AVP - Alien Vs. Predator (Widescreen Edition) (2004)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2005 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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