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Aliens vs. Predator — Requiem

As the second round of an earthbound smackdown between two iconic extraterrestrials, "Aliens vs. Predator -- Requiem" provides enough cheap thrills and modest suspense to shake a few shekels from genre fans before really blasting off as homevid product.

With:
Dallas - Steven Pasquale Kelly - Reiko Aylesworth Morales - John Ortiz Ricky - Johnny Lewis Molly - Ariel Gade Jesse - Kristen Hager Tim - Sam Trammell Col. Stevens - Robert Joy Dale - David Paetkau Alien - Tom Woodruff Jr. Predator - Ian Whyte

As the second round of an earthbound smackdown between two iconic extraterrestrials, “Aliens vs. Predator — Requiem” provides enough cheap thrills and modest suspense to shake a few shekels from genre fans before really blasting off as homevid product. Slightly more graphic but appreciably less atmospheric than its PG-13 predecessor — an upscale B-movie that offered the long-awaited monster match-up previously rendered only in vidgames and comicbooks — the R-rated sequel likely will play best with auds who have little familiarity with, or reverence for, earlier installments in the “Alien” and “Predator” franchises.

Picking up precisely where “Alien vs. Predator” left off, scripter Shane Salerno has the ferocious product of an Alien-Predator mating (a Predalien?) destroying all fellow passengers aboard a Predator spaceship, then crash-landing in the woods near the small Colorado community of Gunnison. With easy access to human breeding vessels, the mutant beastie (imagine the Mother Alien from “Aliens” with a wicked set of dreadlocks) immediately begins using hunters, homeless vagrants, restaurant employees and other unfortunates for procreation purposes. In no time at all, chests are bursting, entrails are splattering, Alien offspring are rampaging and bit players are rashly assuring loved ones that, never mind the noise, there’s really nothing bad lurking outside.

Eventually, a super-duper Predator arrives on the scene to enforce some population control. But as this intergalactic Mr. Fix-It goes about doing the dirty work of trapping and destroying all trace of the Alien multitudes, often resembling an ace player in a first-person shooter vidgame, the local citizenry gets caught in the crossfire. Chief among those in danger of becoming collateral damage: Morales (John Ortiz), the upstanding but outmatched local sheriff; Dallas (Steven Pasquale), an ex-con who doesn’t take any guff from either extraterrestrial species; and Kelly (Reiko Aylesworth), a resourceful Iraq War vet whose maternal instincts and straight-shooting heroics recall the mother of all “Alien” franchise heroines, Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley.

Directed by vet f/x wizards Colin and Greg Strause — first-time feature helmers who bill themselves as, naturally, the Brothers Strause — “AVP-R” moves at a reasonably brisk clip, even while marking time between slam-bang horror-action setpieces. Especially effective, and ingeniously creepy, is a maternity-ward sequence that’s bound to creep out expectant mothers in the audience.

Occasionally, the filmmakers reveal a cheeky willingness to upend genre conventions, particularly when bending the rules regarding who lives and who dies in this sort of pic. But they may be a tad too clever for their own good while springing a sequel setup in the final scene, the meaning of which will be lost on anyone who isn’t intimately familiar with arcane aspects of the “Alien” mythos.

The actors have little to do here but hit their marks, say their lines and not bump into each other when the script doesn’t call for it. Production values are on the level of a better-than-average direct-to-vid production or a Sci Fi Channel telepic, though the editing in a few battle scenes tends to confuse rather than excite.

Aliens vs. Predator -- Requiem

Production: A 20th Century Fox release and presentation of a John Davis/Brandywine production in association with Dune Entertainment. Produced by Davis, David Giler, Walter Hill. Executive producers, Paul Deason, Robbie Brenner. Directed by the Brothers Strause. Screenplay, Shane Salerno, based on the "Alien" characters created by Dan O'Bannon, Ron Shusett and the "Predator" characters created by Jim Thomas, John Thomas.

Crew: Camera (Deluxe color), Daniel C. Pearl; editor, Dan Zimmerman; music, Brian Tyler; production designer, Andrew Neskoromny; supervising art director, Helen Jarvis; set decorator, Shane "Pero" Viaeu; costume designer, Angus Strathie; sound (Dolby Digital/DTS), Patrick Ramsay; creature effects designed and created by Alec Gillis, Tom Woodruff Jr.; original "Alien" creatures designed by H.R. Giger; assistant director, Lars Winther; casting, Mindy Marin (U.S.), Coreen Mayrs, Heike Brandstatter (Canada). Reviewed at AMC Studio 30, Houston, Dec. 25, 2007. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 94 MIN.

Cast: Dallas - Steven Pasquale Kelly - Reiko Aylesworth Morales - John Ortiz Ricky - Johnny Lewis Molly - Ariel Gade Jesse - Kristen Hager Tim - Sam Trammell Col. Stevens - Robert Joy Dale - David Paetkau Alien - Tom Woodruff Jr. Predator - Ian Whyte

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