Alien Vs. Predator - Blu-Ray Movie Review
|30/9/2004||31/5/2007||Fox||Paul W.S. Anderson|
Released to cinemas around the globe in the second half of 2004 Alien Vs Predator brought together two of the greatest sci-fi characters of all time. This was a project in development hell for quite a few years as Fox had to decide between this crossover project, and an Alien 5 movie which apparently had James Cameron, Ridley Scott and Sigourney Weaver interested in returning. Why they chose this project instead is baffling, but here it is. Written and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson it is a movie that divided people the world over. But more that that later. What is this movie all about then?
|No doubt, the Predators are cool!|
In the early 21st century, the discover of an ancient pyramid buried beneath the ice of Antarctica draws a team of scientists and adventurers to the site. But unknown to the explorers is the presence of Alien eggs ready to hatch, deep within the pyramid. Back on the surface Predators arrive to perform a coming-of-age ritual. With time running out, the humans find themselves trapped in a battle to the death between two alien races bred to kill.
So what do I think of the movie? Well I actually enjoyed it. Sure it doesn't hold a candle to Arnie's Predator or the first two Alien movies starring Sigourney Weaver however it's certainly not as bad as Predator 2, Alien 3 or Alien Resurrection. The premise isn't too bad and I think, after we get a couple of inevitable sequels (the first of which is due out at Christmas 2007), this could be looked at as a solid origin piece to explain how the two species know, and get to earth.
Ultimately this movie boils down to a 'running the hell away from the deadly monster' type movie, but it's done pretty well with one or two neat twists to keep you on the edge of your seat although there aren't enough 'money shot' moments for my liking. Acting in the movie is adequate - but nothing worth writing home about. It was nice to see Lance Henriksen return for this movie, as it ties the storyline and mythology back into the originals to some extent.
|Face off, but who will win?|
In a first (well, we are pretty sure it is anyway) for the Blu-Ray format Alien Vs Predator includes both the original and extended cuts of the movie with seamless branching being used on the disc. To be honest, we never even noticed any pauses or changes in the movie so kudos for Fox for leading the way in this area. The Extended version of the movie runs for 108:40 compared to 100:47 for the theatrical release and contains a couple of additional scenes - primarily one at the beginning of the movie in the Antarctic base in 1904, as well as plenty more blood. This extended version is what should have appeared in the cinemas to start with!
The video quality in this release certainly isn't one you'll use to show off the capabilities of Blu-Ray to your friends. It's not terrible however this 50GB dual layer disc (encoded in MPEG-2 and at 2.35:1) does show quite a bit of film grain in places. This may well be a result of the source material - and that so much of the movie takes place in the dark probably doesn't assist - but it is evident, and made all the more worse because the levels of grain change quite rapidly between some scenes and cuts.
For such a dark movie though there is a decent amount of shadow detail, and when colours do appear on screen - the Predator's red laser target sight for example - it really comes out at you with plenty of vibrancy. Likewise the alien's fluorescent green blood stands out in the darkness and the ice in the Antarctic looks, well, frosty.
Audio on this disc is provided through DTS-HD Lossless Master Audio 5.1. Yet again we aren't able to test the full quality of this audio without a capable receiver - hopefully we can do that in the coming months when they are expected to hit the shelves in Australia. Having said that the 1.5Mbps 'core' DTS track is superb. There's are quite a few periods of quietness in the movie but when it ramps up you'll be on the edge of your seat. Dialogue is clear and there are several uses of directional sound - there's nothing like the sound of a Predator making his howling noises in DTS!
|Troubled times ahead me thinks...|
One of the biggest disappointments we had with this disc has to do with the extras which really could have been beefed up quite a bit more. This is especially true given the Alien Vs. Predator - Two-Disc Extreme Edition DVD set which includes a tonne of extras including hundreds of production photographs and behind the scenes documentaries. Still, we do get some solid extras to keep us busy.
Audio Commentary by Director Paul W.S Anderson, and Actors Lance Henrikson and Sanaa Lathan:
This commentary can be listened to through the theatrical version and is identical to that on the DVD release of this movie. It was quite a bit more interesting, and entertaining, then I thought it would be. While they often just talk about the action on screen, there is a lot of production detail here too.
Audio Commentary by Crew Alec Gillis, Tom Woodruff JR and John Bruno:
|What the hell is this?!|
A bit more technical overview of the movies production and another interesting listen with three of the main people behind the visual and creature effects in the movie. This is only accessible through the theatrical version of the movie.
Now this is an interesting addition to the disc. Not a trivia track of production this is more of a factoid track about the 'species' in the movies and their history. While good I wasn't overly keen on the presentation as it blocks too much of the picture for the little information it provides. This trivia track is also an exclusive to the HD version of the movie - it is not on the DVD release.
Alien Vs Predator Trailer (2.17/HD):
Phone Booth Trailer (2:24/HD):
Trailer for the very entertaining Joel Schumacher movie (which we will review soon). Presented with HD video and DD5.1 audio at 448kbps.
Planet of the Apes Trailer (0:54/HD):
The movie may not be great, but it's nice to have this HD trailer with 448kbps audio.
I know I'm in the minority in liking this film. I'll admit that it is not great, and it's certainly not up there with the original Predator or first couple of Alien movies, but I did enjoy this movie. The inclusion of both the original and extended cuts is a first on Blu-Ray and the audio is superb. The lack of extras hurts, and the video quality is somewhat questionable, but overall this is a solid, if uninspiring release on Blu-Ray. One for the fans.
Review By: Dave Warner
Note: All images in this article are Copyrightę Fox. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.