The only way a movie built on so triumphantly dumb a premise could work was if it buffed up good on a) the FX, b) the stunts and c) the gross-out factor. What we’re not looking for here is a) performances of depth, b) character sketches sturdier than wet toilet paper, and c) a plot. Just so we’re very clear about that.
AVP aces the second test, but on the first it scores a lukewarm 1 out of 3. Nothing great in any one department, but a dab and a sniff of all three. A millionaire industrialist spots an underground pyramid in Antartica, so he gathers a crew of good-looking experts to go digging. To be the first man among the oldest prehistoric skeletons is apparently very important to this guy.
Accompanying the rich crank (Lance 'Aliens' Henriksen) are an Italian archeologist (Raoul Bova), a Scottish geologist (Ewen ‘Trainspotting’ Bremner), a team of hardy engineers and one guilt-tripped environmental expert (Sanaa Lathan as Lex Woods). Woods decides to abandon the expedition when she sees how dangerous it could be, but then she gets all maternal about the rest of the idiot crew, and stays on.
After the lot of them has established contact with a penguin and swapped their share of touching personal histories, things begin to happen. The pyramid they’re cautiously exploring is the scene of one the earth’s most ancient battles: boxers vs. briefs.
No, it’s actually big, stinky alien vs. robotic predator with dreadlocks. The predators are a race of extremely high-tech warriors who view humans as the wrapping paper that holds their 18th birthday gift: manhood. As part of a rite of passage ceremony, the predators must battle their deadliest enemy, the aliens, who hatch out from the stomachs of sacrificial humans. Cool, huh? And original too.
The reptilian mucus-dripping aliens are of two kinds, the t-rex type with evil, photogenic grins and the face-huggers. This second kind uses some strange vacuum-suction thingie to grab hold of your face and well, stay there for uncomfortable periods of time. Lex, the environmentalist, and the archeologist get separated from the rest of the crew, which is swiftly decimated by either the predators or the aliens. So the remaining humans must team up with the lesser of the two blood-thirsty evils in order to get out safe.
Unlike his last two movies which were full-blown versions of computer games, Paul Anderson's AVP is only inspired by one. It's no Mortal Kombat or Resident Evil, but in it's own way, Alien Vs Predator strengthens the case for the Concerned Parents Against Virtual Violence league. Heads get wrenched off, ornamental spears rip through guts, and green blood is liberally spilled. But those are the good bits, and in AVP, they are few and far between.