My life. AvP2 is a bad film. You probably already knew that, though.
What’s more, if you sit through the first of the pair of commentary tracks on the Blu-ray of Aliens vs Predator – Requiem, which brings together producer John Davis and the Brothers Strause, it’s enough to beggar belief. Within two minutes, without the merest hint of irony, they talk about the importance of continuity of the franchise. Really? This is the franchise that started out as a pair of terrific science fiction flicks of different approaches, that has now been reduced to some blokes in suits having a scrap?
It’s a fascinating commentary track, to be fair. Whenever there’s a need to talk about filmmaking proper, it descends into a volley of ‘cool’, ‘exactly’ and stuff like that. Get them on special effects, clearly their forte, and they dig into far more detail, and the commentary suddenly has real merit and interest (love the anecdote about cutting all of Arnie’s dialogue from the original Predator, too).
Sometimes, though, you don’t know whether they’ve actually sit through the shambles of a movie they all managed to put together – the invitation to come round and meet the effects boys is one that one or two less enthusiastic recipients of the film may well choose to take up. But on the other hand, their enthusiasm for it still makes for an engaging track. They usually manage to drag you back down to earth though. For instance, why doesn’t the Alien acid melt people this time round? Ah, that’s easy. That would have cost more money. They really did say that. Why don’t you make a Batman movie without the suit next? That’d save a few quid.
The second commentary, from Tom Woodruff Jr and Alex Gillis, is drier yet more informative. These two are the effects maestros, and while they do try and flog their book to you at one point, in terms of cold information, they have a lot more to say than Messrs Strause, Strause and Davis. They entertain a lot less as they do so, but you will get a lot of factual nuggets. So chalk both commentary tracks up as successes of different sorts.
Also on the disc is a long list of featurettes. This is, of course, one larger documentary broken down into lots of bits to fill the menu screen up, but you do get a fair bit for your money. The Preparing For War featurette, for instance, lasts just north of quarter of an hour, and nobody says a single thing that hasn’t been long-approved by the Fox marketing department. Colin Strause, interestingly, talks about how he approached this film by trying to work out what would be scarier than the original Alien movie, and concluded bringing it to Earth is the logical step. And maybe it would have been, but surely location is but one ingredient, and not the vital one? Fight To The Finish, meanwhile, is just over ten minutes, and documents the time pressure the Strauses were under to deliver their cut, and get the R rating that they craved.
A trio of effects featurettes follow, and these are quite good, They talk about how the look of the alien was slightly changed for the film, putting together the homeworld of the predators, and – of course – the PredAlien hybrid that marks the opening shot of the film, and generates perhaps the only thing worth talking about in the film proper. You get over 20 minutes in total, and it’s hard to complain too much about the content here.
You also get a gallery of stills, and the inevitable collection of trailers, as well as a Blu-ray exclusive, the Weyland-Yutani archives. This is a mini-encyclopaedia of sorts, that digs into the backstories of both species of the film’s title. It’s not bad, either.
On top of all of this, the presentation of the film is quite superb. Say what you like about the film itself – and we have done in the past – but it looks glorious in 1080p. It’s an outstanding transfer, all the more impressive given the darkness of the picture for much of it, and it’s matched by a bustling, rowdy audio mix. When the action hits, the soundstage is active, vibrant and rewarding of whatever investment you’ve put into your audio equipment.
Sadly, though, it’s simply wasted on the film. It’s staggering to see what Fox has allowed to happen to two of its key franchises here, and every one of these shitty meet-ups between the two that we see surely continues to temper any chance of getting a proper, standalone movie for each franchise made. Given the talent entrusted behind the camera of the AvP movies though, that may not be a bad thing.