Maybe it’s just the power of lowered (and I mean lowered) expectations, but to my surprise I didn’t hate this much-maligned crossover, and, from a certain perspective, found it a more enjoyable experience than the recent Alien: Covenant. Or perhaps I was simply able to disassociate it from the Alien franchise altogether, and watch it on its own terms as a trashy B-movie. Which yes is filled with cardboard-thin characters, laughable plot and much stupidity, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t have fun watching it.
The story is as basic as it comes and there’s absolutely no point trying to make it fit into the continuity of the Alien franchise, unless you want your brains to curdle. In the year 2004, Weyland Corporation, headed by Charles Bishop Weyland (Lance Henriksen of the Aliens‘ Bishop fame, whose casting here makes no sense, but nothing else does either), finds a mysterious ancient pyramid resting deep under Antarctica. He assembles a crack team of scientists, drillers and explorers, led by Alexa Woods (Sanaa Lathan). Her badassery is established in the most cliche way possible: she climbs a dangerous ice wall and simultaneously discusses the job offer on the phone. What the clueless humans don’t know is that the pyramid complex is a hunting ground designed by the Predators, where they could hunt specially bred xenomorphs to prove their manhood… Predatorhood… whatever, while the ancient humans worshipped Predators as gods and served as breeding vessels. Very soon, Weyland’s team ends up being caught in the middle of epic smackdowns between the two warring species. But you know Alexa’s companions are going to be toast anyway, because no one can hope to survive after showing a happy snap of their kids in a horror film.
All of this is extremely silly, and my internal running commentary for the first half of the movie ran something like, Huh? What? Why are they doing this? But once the Team Stupid gets inside the pyramid and things go from bad to worse, the movie is an entertaining action/horror romp to watch. I’ve watched enough movies which are bad in a drab and humourless way, to appreciate the fun bad movies; I really can’t hate a film that has something as hilarious as a shot of a facehugger jumping in bullet time.
The production design looks pretty damn good and the pyramid interiors are suitably lavish and creepy. The effects for the Aliens and Predators hold up well, and the movie gets props for bringing back the Alien Queen. The R-rated human bloodshed is noticeably missing, but the movie at least doesn’t hold back where the monster-on-monster damage is concerned. A completely unexpected bonus was Sanaa Lathan as the chief protagonist; there’s really nothing much to her character as written, but she makes her appealing and easy to root for. Alexa is no Ripley maybe but she’s also not the forgettable what’s-her-name from Alien: Covenant.