Lisa Schwarzbaum
August 11, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

AVP: Alien vs. Predator

Current Status
In Season
87 minutes
Wide Release Date
Lance Henriksen, Sanaa Lathan, Raoul Bova, Ewen Bremner
Paul Anderson (Director), Bharat Nalluri
John Davis, David Giler, Lawrence Gordon, Walter Hill, Joel Silver
20th Century Fox Film Corporation
Paul Anderson (Director), Shane Salerno
ActionAdventure, Sci-fi and Fantasy, Horror

We gave it a C

To ingest Alien vs. Predator on its own slimy, divertingly synthetic terms, it helps to forget everything previously known — and loved — about the franchise monster aliens who get star billing. The original, terrifying, maxi-toothed 1979 Alien, with her unsightly drool, has little in common with the oh-here-they-come-again mother and hatchlings who stir up trouble in this perfunctory showdown, and the Predator fought by Arnold Schwarzenegger so pre-gubernatorially back in 1987 has been replaced by what appears to be a very middle-aged head-chopper in rubber-tube dreadlocks.

Still, there’s pass-the-time fun to be had, of a special FX kind, in the video game-style sequel served up by Paul W. S. Anderson, set 2,000 feet beneath an Antarctic ice cap in a hidden pyramid where Predators have, it turns out, hunted Aliens since time began. It’s just the dubious luck of a group of human explorers and treasure hunters that their expedition coincides with the next big A vs. P amazing race.

The face-offs — and I do mean face-offs — between megamonsters is pretty standard, goo-on-goo computer-enhanced combat. But the humans are interesting, while they last, if only because Anderson has assembled a strangely cool cast willing to get slimed and say stuff like ”It seems that we are rats in a maze!” ”Aliens”’ Lance Henriksen plays the billionaire adventurer intent on uncovering the pyramid (before he dies of a mysterious billionaire’s respiratory disease). His specimen team includes Sanaa Lathan (only recently sparkling in ”Raisin in the Sun” on Broadway) as ecologist and group leader, ”Trainspotting”’s Ewen Bremner as a geologist (and Scottish comic relief), and ”Under the Tuscan Sun”’s Raoul Bova as the handsome Italian archeologist a girl would most like to get sticky with deep underground.

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