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January 8th, 2008

I ended up seeing Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem because a friend broke up his girlfriend. If you're a guy, you'll know what that means there's a rather large likelihood that you will end up at some trashy, violent piece of escapism, and that's how I ended up there.

What I wasn't prepared for, however, was just how laughably bad the film would be. It would be bad, of course, but that was half the point, and truthfully, as a piece of trash cinema, I didn't mind the first Aliens Vs Predator film. I admit: I kinda have a weakness for the films, mostly because it involves people running round, screaming, shooting, and being impaled/and or used for breeding purposes. Anyhow, I know it's stupid, but even as a way to kick back, I figured I'd skip this--the trailer looked like it was enough, but... well, circumstances. Ah well. Anyhow, in case it's important to you, AvP: Requiem takes place directly after the last film, in which the hybrid alien-predator bursts out of the dead predator's body, grows with an amazingly rapid pace, and causes the spaceship with the predators on it to crash on earth, setting free a bunch of aliens. A father and son front the small town of Gunnarson--or whatever it's called--are out hunting when the ship crashes and, with a few chuckles, they get taken in for breeding purposes, so to say.

Before you know it, however, using little boys to breed isn't the point of the film, and you're in a teen horror flick, complete with trouble teenager who delivers pizza, ex girlfriend he still has the hots for, and stupid jocks who will die for you enjoyment. He even has a brother who has just been released from prison, and who will, later, know how to use a armoured vehicles gun, a machine gun, and a couple of other things that you would suspect ex-cons would know. But prison these days, huh? If they're not teaching you how to use a machine gun, they're teaching you how to be responsible and how to take charge when aliens are lurking in the bushes. The other main characters include the token black man, also the sheriff, and the token tough woman, a soldier, but neither of these characters get much of a shake, given that they are not all that hot in their underwear, and cannot appeal to the teen audience for that all important connection of their daily life--I know when I was a teenager I was always being stalked by aliens while being beaten up by jocks for my not all that attractive though the film would like me to believe she is ex-girlfriend... it was a tough few years being a teenager, I guess. Lot of expectations.

In fact, afterward, I had this fantasy of the pitch that went down for this film:

In it, I imagined the Brothers Strause, two con-joined twins who shared the one brain, standing in the plush office of studio executive, surrounded by images of the previous Aliens and Predator films. "We want to go in a different direction," the Brothers say in one voice. "The product is getting stale. It's done the tough woman. It has done the muscled man. It has done the black man. It has done done the black woman. It has done adults. It has done survival. It has done action. But it has not done blond, white teenagers in small town, terrorised by the biggest nightmare of our generation. It's Aliens meet Halloween."

After which a giant cheque was given to them.

Still, nothing I have written so far really captures the movie. The acting is, universally, awful. It's rare that I sit in a cinema and think, "I am so a better actor than that," but there was a couple of moments, the worse being with a cook, that I said that and believed it. It reminded me, a little, of the acting that you get in student films, where you have to use anyone to fill in the spots of soon to be dead people. But, even if it wasn't the cook, everyone else acted badly. Even the predator acted badly, and not much is required of the predator, except to leap around in camouflage and kill people which, though this is certainly going to sound strange when I say this, he didn't do. In fact, the predator in this film is actually quite hilarious, since for a creature that comes from a culture of hunters, he leaves his homeworld without any weapons and instead of stalking aliens quietly, proceeds to jump in water loudly, kick in doors to announce his presence, and set traps that contain no logic whatsoever. Also, he has a blue goo that, it seems, is aimed at hiding the presence of aliens, which may or may not work, given that he then skins a man and leaves him hanging from a tree shortly before he begins blowing up town generators. That kinda hints at the logic and script problems within the film, too.

I could go on. I really could. It's like shooting things in a barrel. Actors, directors, scriptwriters: everyone involved in this film, which is unintentionally hilarious, is worth taking a shot at, but you know what?

It was kind've the right film for a guy who'd just broken up with his girlfriend.

Last Short Story List

The Last Short Story (lastshortstory) folk finished reading the year's short fiction, and compiled a recommended list. 'John Wayne' is on it, which is nice.

It's an interesting list in that it represents a few people I actively dislike, and some who I have a neither positive nor negative opinion of, but only a couple of people I'd seek out. For example, I've never understood the appeal of Ted Chiang, and I find the few pieces I've read of his badly written and old tricks. Likewise, I find Grace Dugan to be bland and unoffensive to the point of offense, Holly Black an annoyance with words, and Greg Egan just dry. I don't mind when the latter is occasionally political, mind. This is not a slag on the list, by the way, it's just me talking about it, in that way that you talk about these things. I like the way Hal Duncan uses words and Rjurik Davidson's use of the high concept, for an example on the other side of things.

Anyhow, if I had read the thousands upon thousands of stories that the LSS crew did, I would be able to offer you some alternatives, but honestly, I didn't (and I won't). Taste is taste and all: so if you read a few stories that you liked more than what's listed there, note them down.