If you give a toss about the story, stop reading. But believe me, this comment couldn't possibly ruin the film for you any more than Fox has. Spare a thought for Paul Anderson as he struggles to make a film that hasn't been neutered by the MPAA or a cowardly studio. Once Paul Verhoeven left America to resume his stellar work in Europe, I guess the MPAA had to have someone to pound upon. After moronic parents who took their single-digit-age children to see Resident Evil complained, I guess it was inevitable that future Anderson projects face an even bigger butcher's knife.
But I am getting ahead of myself here. There are two things that made the Alien and Predator franchises work. The first was human interaction. In essence, the films were about humans trying to screw each other over for power, with the titular enemy there to deliver the consequences of not working together. A non-subtle and somewhat shallow social statement, in other words. Then there's the gore factor. Once the human drama is set up, who cannot help but feel for the survivors as a marine's face is melted by Alien blood, or when a train full of commuters are torn to pieces by a Predator who doesn't fully understand what is going on around him?
AVP tries to set up the former factor with Lance Henriksen's character anxious to find the strange artefact under the polar cap before he dies. Unfortunately, where Aliens in particular excelled was that it managed to give every character a third dimension. Here, only Henriksen's character gets such effort. So every act of violence or mayhem is given a feeling of absolutely no consequence. It's almost like a video game.
Paul Anderson is on record as saying that he made the film with every intention of it being screened with the MPAA's R rating. Apparently, Fox, fearing it will alienate children, decided otherwise. Never mind that the audience which kept both franchises in the black are now either in their mid-twenties or middle-aged. Forget creativity or making something that people might enjoy. The lowest common denominator rules here. Those parents who complained when the studio didn't accommodate them because they were too stupid to realize a film based on a video game which is in turn based on Night Of The Living Dead might not be a good babysitter, I hope you are proud of yourselves. Meanwhile, if any studio wants to let Anderson make a film without tying his hands over his audience's eyes, I will gladly pay to see it multiple times. Trust me, you will make more money this way once backlash is accounted for.
AVP also marks the first Anderson film I have seen in which the shaky-cam technique is used. Here, they don't even bother to try and make their excuse that it puts the audience more into the action seem plausible. Every shaky-cam frame might as well have the phrase "we are shaking this camera to preserve our PG-13 rating" stamped across it in big, bold letters.
You may have noticed that I haven't said anything about the actual characters yet, apart from mentioning Lance Henriksen by his own name rather than that of the character. There is a reason for this. If a group of film characters became any more generic, they could all be played by the same actor. The Aliens and Predators do not fare any better. Seriously, why on Earth didn't they just base the script upon the first comic book series? These comic books showed more for the audience to get interested in with one issue than this film shows in its entire running length.
The story also shows every conceivable sign of not being thought through. The humans discover an alien temple a couple of thousand feet below the surface of a polar cap. Great, but wouldn't that mean it is basically submerged in the ocean? So when the intrepid humans decide to go and check it out, the Predators oblige them by firing a beam from Earth's orbit into said polar cap, tunneling the thousands of feet needed to find the entrance. I guess the budget cuts at NASA meant that nobody could notice the massive hulking ship above the Earth. I'm also guessing that Alien blood and armour made from Alien parts gives one special powers, such as the ability to stand below a spacecraft as it takes off without being burned by the thrust. Or did they just not see Danny Glover's race to get away from the Predators' ship at the end of Predator 2?
In short, this film insults the fans of both franchises, sci-fi action fans in general, as well as the basic principle of adults being able to watch and hear what they choose to. I strongly urge the viewing, DVD-buying public to give this film the butt, lest more be made in this kindergarten-oriented fashion. Fox, you ought to be ashamed of yourselves.