17 August 2008 | bob the moo
All the usual problems but even the basic elements are damaged by the feckless murky cinematography/lighting
The predator ship is leaving Earth when the unwanted passenger on board makes itself known an alien inside the predator itself. The infected causes the craft to crash back to the planet below, releasing a whole new breed of aliens into a forest community who are, to say the least, unprepared for such a creature. Meanwhile, far from Earth, the distress signal from the predator craft makes it back to the home planet where a cleaner is dispatched to tidy the mess up and dispose of all evidence. Stuck in the middle of this intergalactic battle are small bands of humans, just trying to survive the night.
A Requiem is a ceremony to pray for the dead and I suppose it is a word used in the title of this film because essentially the audience is praying for the death to begin as the film is all about monsters fighting one another and killing anything human that happens to get between them. Anyone who has come to see more than this will be disappointed and only have themselves to blame. It was the same with the first film to be fair I remember thinking that, in regards men in suits punching one another it was acceptable even if it offers nothing else with it. AVPR got reviews even more snobbish and dismissive than the first film but I figured that if I knew what I was getting then maybe I can enjoy it as such. And in fairness there is a part of it that is enjoyable purely as a short of hybrid of the slasher movie (people picked off one at a time) and sci-fi.
Fortunately, as a normal person, I do not come to this film with the concerns over whether really one predator could take on so many aliens or who should win really and the time I save by not wondering how Batman or Superman would fare in similar fights allows me to watch the film. Sadly though, even as a casual viewer I do have some requirements even from this film and few of these were met. It is to be expected that the script is poor and characters non-existent, this I suspected would be the cast and was pretty much ready for it, if not "happy" about it. What I was hoping for was a darker film than the original, something that is less an action buddy movie with a predator/human combo but more an exciting and thrilling sci-fi; not an unfair expectation since this is also what the Strause brothers said they wanted to make.
Unfortunately what this translated into was just the studio going for a higher rating in a way to tell fans that it is not the kids movie that the first one was perceived as. For me personally though it is not the gore and violence that makes for a good film and I was not just looking for something that was rated higher than the first film, but something that was actually better than the first film. The focus on the violence has distracted the makers from the fact that what was needed was more drama, more excitement and more thrills. All of these are in surprising short supply as the film routinely knocks off the human characters one after another in increasingly unpleasant ways. So far so as expected as this is what I came to see. It shows that the Krause brothers are effects men but they cannot direct and their supposed passion for the subject doesn't mean anything to me if they cannot deliver suspense or tension with it instead of just pushing the buttons that the fans want violence, shots of home planets etc. All these failings are irritating but the action just plods along and is distracting enough to carry it but the thing is, with any visual media it always help to be actually able to SEE what is happening.
It has been said countless times before but for some reason someone decided that to make it more menacing and dark, the film itself needs to be dark because, hey, the Alien movies in particular are all about what is in the shadows. Problem is that the makers forgot how well-lit those films were because shadows are only formed by the presence of light, otherwise it is just darkness. For some reason, music video cinematographer Pearl doesn't get this and the entire film is a murky dark light, with the shadows being the murkiest and the rest just being murky. I'm pretty sure it is the worse lighting/cinematography job I have seen in a major studio film release can't think of any other film where the issue was so consistently a problem. Within this murky monster movie the cast simply run and die and scream there is nothing else they can do because there is nothing the material for them other than this.
AVPR is a disappointing film that doesn't even really do the basic things that the target audience will demand from it. It does have violence and monsters hitting one another but it is lacking in almost every other aspect of deliver. Some of these are to be expected but some of them, specifically the murky presentation, are just killers, making this film more violent than the first one but a lot harder to watch.