Tuesday, 19 November 2013

7 Ways AVP Inspired Recent Alien and Predator Movies

So when I wasn't playing the shit out of Battlefield 4 on PS4, the AVP Miniatures Game I've been talking about the last two weeks inspired me to go back and revisit Paul W.S. Anderson's much-maligned 2004 Alien vs Predator movie. It was actually worse than I remember it being, but while watching it I noticed something a bit... odd. Considering that Predators and Prometheus, the most recent Predator and Alien movies respectively seem to draw plot points and details from AVP liberally. This is especially surprising considering that they have done their damnedest to distance themselves from the AVP films. I've compiled seven examples of these instances here for examination.

As a note before we begin, I would like to mention that Prometheus and Predators are much better films than either AVP. I also figure that most of these similarities are coincidental, but find the links interesting enough to warrant mentioning. Oh and it should probably go without saying that SPOILERS ARE IN EFFECT.

Honourable Mention: Two expendable goofballs get separated from the main group and have very bad things befall them... (Prometheus)



I didn't include this one because it seems more like a genre trope than anything, but in AVP... uhhh gimme a second to look up the names of the "characters" in this movie... umm so Miller and Verheiden get separated from the main characters and begin bumbling and freaking out. Neither have really done anything so far but they try to buddy up to get through things since they're both "dads" and therefore can't give up. If only they knew they were in a horror film they might have just turned the guns on themselves... Anyway, both end up getting captured by the Aliens and impregnated.

Meanwhile, in Prometheus, scientists Fifield and Milburn have had enough scary alien crap and so head back to the ship... but get lost like dumbasses despite having a digital map on them. They basically scream and hold each other until Milburn tries to pet a hissing serpent (no homo). They are mysteriously killed and/or weaponized soon after.

7) Predators Hunt in Threes (Predators)



I think there's some precedence for this development in the Predator and AVP comics, hence why I rank it so lowly. However, to be fair, how often do films series respect extended universe stories? Just look at Alien 3, which took a dump on all the Alien comics which had been written as sequels to Aliens. I imagine that the new Star Wars movies will invalidate all the post-ROTJ fiction as well. In that regard, considering that all prior Predator films featured only a single hunter, this is a pretty interesting correlation.

In AVP a trio of Predator teenagers head off to their ritual hunting grounds to kill some xenomorphs (and any foolish humans who get in their way). In Predators, a trio of Super Predators hunt aliens and humans on their game preserve planet. In either case, three isn't the magic number as they all get killed.

6) Mysterious Temple of Bad Things (aka Human Killing Grounds) (Prometheus)



Considering that both AVP and Prometheus are horror films, it makes sense that the mysterious, alien-built temple of doom that the protagonists come across would turn out to be something bad in the end. However, I think it's more than a little odd that Prometheus features this trope at all, considering that it is trying to do something unlike the AVP films. If you really wanted to stretch it you could probably try to make an argument that both structures are pyramids, although the Engineer's weapon facility looks more like a mound to me. There's other similarities as well, such as the fact that the protagonists are able to conveniently read and translate the glyphs on the walls which are written in an unknown language. The owners of the temples also end up getting defeated by Xenomorphs/proto-Xenomorphs, both during and prior to the events of the films.

In AVP, the humans discover a temple 2000ft beneath Antarctica. It turns out that it is an ancient Predator hunting ground where humans are sacrificed to create Xenomorphs. In Prometheus, the humans travel to the Engineer's planet to trace back to the origin of life. They end up discovering a weapon's facility where the Engineers destroyed themselves with biological weapons before they could purge humanity from the stars.

5) Aliens Are Responsible for Civilization on Earth (Prometheus)


What's with the recent fascination with the belief that humans were created/improved by aliens? I mean, they have a bloody TV show on "The History Channel" for goodness sake. Oh and of course there are people who think that Prometheus is a true story, but covered-up to look fictionalized (because as we all know, the best way to hide the truth is to give it a $130 million dollar budget and a wide release and then expect that absolutely no one will be crazy enough to believe it). Anyway, both AVP and Prometheus have this idea as a central plot point, even if it doesn't make all that much sense.

In AVP, the Predators established the early civilizations and taught them to build pyramids so they could hunt Xenomorphs in them. They also apparently did a whole Tower of Babel thing too, because apparently the temple in Antarctica has all of the ancient cultures in its architecture and language, but somehow this singular origin didn't muddy their own cultures, since they still remain unique (...AVP is really dumb). In Prometheus, the Engineers were the origin of life on Earth through a Christ-like sacrifice. They also came back later and helped civilize humanity, being worshiped as gods by us and leaving behind star maps for us to follow.

4) People Inexplicably Bring Weapons on a Scientific Expedition (Prometheus)


Scientific research is to the Alien franchise as archaeology is to Indiana Jones - if it can't be shot at then it isn't worth investigating. Supposed "scientists" in both films don't do their jobs at all, generally acting like stupid tourists gawking about on their field trip. Also worth noting is the fact that the female protagonist in both AVP and Prometheus says that weapons aren't needed, but are dismissed offhand. Guns are cool, but seriously... they aren't really justified in either film very well at all. Of course, the weapons end up being useless anyways. In AVP I think a grand total of... two Aliens end up getting shot by the humans (and one of them was with some sort of sci-fi gun which just showed up out of nowhere). In Prometheus, only one creature gets killed by guns, but to be fair it was more because he ended up getting backed over by a huge-ass car.

As for justifications, AVP takes the cake for being more inexcusable. It's a scientific expedition to a temple 2000ft beneath Antarctica... there's not going to be anything alive down there. You could argue that they have the guns in case another team comes to investigate the site, but doesn't that sound excessive? Obviously the only reason they have the guns is so that Paul W.S. Anderson can have his stupid action movie. At least in Prometheus they are venturing into the unknown to meet a potentially hostile alien species face-to-face... but still, considering that they had no reason to believe they harboured us ill-will (considering the Engineers created us and all that), it's a tad tenuous.

3) The Hero Teams Up With a Predator (Who Gets Killed for His Troubles) (Predators)


LittleJimmy hates this trope, but I don't have a huge problem with it myself. That said, Predators should not be seen as good guys, but rather as lawfully evil figures. Predators fits that criteria, while AVP ventures too close to making the Predator a hero. Oh and I could have swore to God that Paul W.S. Anderson was going to make Lex and the Predator kiss, it's probably the most "WTF!?!!" moment in the whole movie. In any case, both Predators end up getting killed shortly after (is it too much to ask that a Predator actually survive a damn Predator film for once? They must have a ridiculous mortality rate).

In AVP, the humans steal the Predators' weapons, which makes them get picked off easily by the Aliens. In the end, the last remaining human and Predator team up to bring down the temple and kill the escaped Queen. However, right at the end the Predator gets impaled by the Queen's tail and dies. In Predators, Royce frees a captured Predator who begrudgingly directs Royce to a Predator shuttle in exchange. The Predator ends up getting killed by a Super Predator shortly after though.

2) Weyland (Prometheus)


This is another odd similarity for a series that was trying to move away from the AVP movies. Why is an aged and terminally ill founder of Weyland enterprises a commonality between the two? Even if you dismiss the rest of this article, this one's pretty damn compelling to me because we get a really similar character and motivation in both films.

In AVP, Charles Bishop Weyland discovers the temple in Antarctica and wants to lay claim to the find. He is dying and wants to leave his mark on history by making the greatest discovery in human history (read: he wants to become immortal in a metaphorical sense). He also seems to have secret agendas and doesn't heed warnings that he should let go of his hubris. He gets killed for his troubles of course. In Prometheus, Peter Weyland wants to lay claim to Elizabeth Shaw's discovery of the Engineers. His crew have a secret agenda which hangs over the entire expedition. It turns out that Weyland was secretly in stasis aboard their ship and is close to death. He wants to meet the Engineers and have them make him literally immortal, even though Shaw warns him that they will kill him instead. Predictably, he ends up getting bitch slapped to death by an Engineer.

1) The Opening Briefings are Nearly Identical (Prometheus)



This is the plot point which really kicked off this article because when I watched it in AVP I thought "wait a minute... didn't I already see this...?" Both scenes follow the same purpose and structure, they're at similar points in the film, hell even the details are similar. They're basically the early exposition dump to get the audience up to speed and set up what's going to happen. Both scenes open with Weyland's right hand man/woman beginning the presentation before giving the floor to Weyland himself (or a hologram of Weyland at least) to explain the finer details. The briefings are occurring in a wide-open chamber aboard their respective ships, while the attendees are sitting in cheap folding chairs (!).

The nature of the briefing scenes also create their own problems, because from what we're shown all of these people apparently didn't know where the hell they were going or doing until this briefing started (especially egregious in Prometheus). At least in AVP they try to create a sense of urgency, in Prometheus it's just lazy. The whole scientific angle also gets thrown out the window in Prometheus because Shaw says that they're on this expedition for Engineers is because "that's what she chooses to believe". Umm, good thing for you that Weyland's a crackpot then I guess. Oh and then there's another problem - why send a manned team at all? Why not send an unmanned drone to investigate first instead of pouring a trillion dollars into searching for Engineers who probably aren't there in the first place (as the characters state on many occasions)?

Anyway, despite everyone hating AVP, it seems that it has managed to spread its influence to subsequent Alien and Predator films. Sure, it's probably entirely coincidental, but the connections are interesting at the very least. I hope you enjoyed. Retrospectives should be beginning next week so stay tuned for that!

2 comments:

  1. Wow, now that you point this out it is kinda scary that they made so many similar scenes. It's probably the directors looking for inspiration from the previous installments in the series unless I miss my guess.

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    1. haha, right? In regards to Prometheus, I think a lot of the similarities are because they're both "scientific adventure/horror stories", although the Weyland one is pretty compelling. As for Predators, like I said, I think the hunting in 3's thing might be based on the comics. In any case, I'm pretty sure it's mostly coincidence... but who would think it would be otherwise? ;)

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