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Aliens and Predators Invade the Heartland Christmas Day

Christmas Day 2007 — Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Aliens did indeed invade the heartland of America Christmas Day.

While visiting family and friends for the holidays, I checked out a a viewing of AVP-R at a state of the art multiplex theatre in OKC (Harkins Theatres at Bricktown) — far from my Los Angeles home — which offered a vantage point of seeing the movie in a situation where all in attendance didn’t necessarily fancy themselves “armchair directors” — a common denominator that seems to always permeate so much movie of the movie going audience perspective and positioning in “…’LA’ — ‘LA’ — LAND’..!”

The auditorium was packed at the 1:45 PM show that I saw, save for a few spare seats on the front row (afterwards, the theatre manager told me that he was going to upgrade AVP-R to a theatre twice the size of the 250 seat theatre I viewed it in — swapping it out with “I Am Legend” — as well as split it with another screen of “Alvin and the Chipmunks” — due to AVP-R ticket demands).

The movie began — with the audience definitely along for the ride.

Cinematically, little was given or needed in the way of story exposition.

AVP-R — like that of the alien creatures that inhabit it — played like a “streamlined beast” — slick and dedicated to the purpose of its’ mission — seek, find, and slay — and it did so for the audience in spades.

Audible reactions of fear, surprise, laughter, cheers and squeamishness could readily be heard throughout during the movie — and upon the closing credits — applause.

The true stars and focus of the movie were of course the “Aliens” and “Predator(s)” — and they were showcased with great cinematic panache, faithfulness, and style. As well, the Predalien certainly was a welcome addition to the “classic creature cannon”; offering a fresh variation — both characteristically and aesthetically — of both “species.”

Bricktown Theatre

To be sure, there were moments where one could see that the movie yearned to transcend and elevate the material beyond that of the script that bound it to its present day, earthly small town premise and characters — and thanks to the deft engagement and direction of the material by the Brothers Strause — the bros created a unique synergy of the AVP movies, comics, and video-games in AVP-R that rose above its earthly confines — allowing it to flourish into engaging sci-fi set pieces and sequences in their use of creature confrontations, industrial real estate and “alien” type geography and elements in parts of the film — and it is clear from the ending of the movie that the future of AVP is set to return to space — hence where it hailed from — and where it truly belongs.

Note: as I write this — it’s now a bit after midnight, approximately 12:30 AM on Friday the 28th.

I just took a brief break writing this article to get a Dr. Pepper from the lobby of the Marriott hotel where I’m staying. Low and behold, as I entered the lobby, I heard two guys talking about AVP-R (no kidding) — one asking the other if he’d seen it. I continued to listen from nearby as I retrieved my beverage — neither of the guys (both wearing suits and who looked to be in their mid 30’s) had seen the movie yet; but each said they intended to the upcoming weekend.

They turned out to be the night manager and assistant manager of the hotel. One employee said he had heard from friends who had seen AVP-R already — and that they had enjoyed the film, telling him that the action was “great” and the movie “turned a lot of conventions on their heads” — (in terms of character deaths, happenings, outcomes, etc.)

I of course obligatorily soon joined in on the “Alien”/”Predator” talk — and we chatted for a bit about AVP-R (sans any spoilers from myself) and the film series in general. They were definitely cognizant of the films — sharing thoughts and analysis’ of the movies that parlayed a fundamental appreciation for them — and true to most “Alien”/”Predator” aficionados positioning — they expressed how “Alien”, “Aliens”, and “Predator” held top tier rankings in the series for them.

— speaking of “advance talk” about AVP-R…

On the net, much ado was made by some that AVP-R was not screened for critics before its release.

Come on.

Seriously? And the purpose for advance critic screenings would be…?

And honestly, would that really affect those who are going to see the movie to begin with?

Of course not.

Sci-fi and horror movies are notoriously and unjustly ridiculed for the most part by certain critics who don’t consider movies that showcase these genres to be “serious” entertainment — however — movies are, by their very nature, “escapist entertainment” — providing portals into worlds and situations that transcend the “norm” of day to day “ordinary life” — and are meant to engage the imagination.

Lest us forget, even our “beloved and holy” — “Star Wars — Episode 4: A New Hope” was “assassinated” by esteemed New Yorker’s critic Pauline Kael upon its’ release in 1977 — who vilified it as mere fodder — Kael said: “the loudness, the smash-and-grab editing, the relentless pacing drive every idea from your head…” — “(it is) an assemblage of spare parts —
it has no emotional grip.”

Bricktown Canal

Hmm… kinda sounds similar to a “rant” I read about AVP-R on the net today.

Am I comparing AVP-R to “Star Wars” — no — but I am definitely drawing a parallel to criticism and opinions that can run rampant when it comes to sci-fi cinematic excursions — and of course, there is no shortage of opinions on the net today in any arena…!

AVP-R truly is exciting “escapist entertainment” — and does not pretend or extend any pretense to be anything other than what it is — hence: “mission accomplished” — furthermore, the series is safely on track to continue to grow and further explore the “Aliens” and “Predators” universe in new and engaging ways.

Alrighty folks… getting ready to get on the plane now… time to return to “LA — LA — LAND…” (and like that of the “immortal words” of our fondest Lieutenant after surviving her and our very first xenomorph)

“…I should reach LA in about 3 hours… with a little luck, the ‘Network’ will pick me up… this is Jay West, flying United Airlines… signing off…”

AVP-R Green Band Trailer

After being attached to several films, including another Fox production in Death Sentence, the AVP-R Green Band trailer has finally found its way online. As with the Red Band, IGN had the premiere, but also as with the Red Band, it only stayed online for about 24 hours (you can still download a Windows Media Video or QuickTime version of the trailer from our downloads section). Since most of the footage is a combination of scenes from both the Red Band and Population trailers I will briefly touch upon the new scenes included in this version.

The Good

From some of the new scenes added I think the biggest positive point taken from this trailer is that the film will not only be a balls-out action film, but hold some really creepy moments as well. And although the scene in which the Predalien stalks a hapless doctor in the hospital is eerie, my personal favourites are the scenes of the National Guard soldiers walking into an Alien ambush! Dark glimpses of the Alien silhouette creeping out of frame remind me of the early Alien films. As I’ve said before I think the film will have a strong visual style. Lighting, contrast and camera angles are well designed, well placed and well suited for a film like this.

That being said, there’s something about the scenes that look to be early on in the film giving me a hunch that a lot of the townspeople are going to be slaughtered in some really nasty ways. I just have a feeling the infestation will start slowly, and then explode exponentially as the town is overrun. Add to that Wolf cutting down anything that moves and you can imagine the countdown from the Population trailer not being far off the actual mark.

You can also almost see how the hive is setup from watching this trailer. The doctor from the Red Band who is killed by a Predalien headbite is almost certainly the same doctor from this trailer who is stalked by the Predalien. From there the Predalien, which we know is also a Queen, obviously sets up shop, constructs an egg chamber, and starts to produce some eggs (then the rest of the hive is built). Again, this must be early on in the film, unless we also get to see host-egg morphing take place, because there were only two facehuggers that we see escaping from the crashed Predator ship.

The long and the short – we’re sure to get a lot of action mixed with some really creepy setups.

The Bad

Silent Night… Holy Night… The Christmas music simply does not work for the trailer or for the film. It worked for Die Hard, but not AVP-R. It’s so out of place it’s almost humorous. Seeing Kelly fire a .50 calibre machine gun and Wolfram his wrist blades into the Predalien skull all to the play of a classic Christmas carol is just not right. I can see why some on the production crew were opposed to it.

The only other concern I have, which is a same concern from the Population trailer, is exactly how much the teenage characters will play a role in the film. I wonder just how early on in the film is the pool scene where the Alien attacks Ricky, Jesse, Dale and their friends? Not to be heartless, but I hope the younger characters are killed off quickly…

The Ugly

Why oh why can we not get a retro-style chestburster? The post-Resurrection designs are nothing like those from the first three Alien films. So far with AVP-R I’m loving the Alien designs, the facehuggers look good, I’m on the fence about the Predalien until I see more (although it basically looks like a Predator with an Alien-style head), but I’m just not digging the look of the chestbursters at all. From the screencap the two bursters on either side have the thick ‘lips’ and strange teeth inherit in the design from Resurrection onward, and the one burster in the back looks like some kind of gore-covered dolphin! It’s creepy, just not the right kind of creepy.


Aside from some misplaced Christmas music this might actually be the best of the three trailers released so far. It showcases a lot of the same action scenes from the Red Band, but it doesn’t giveaway as much information. It’s a good mix between the two that travels the middle of the road in terms of spoilers. Overall I give it 8 out of 10, losing points almost exclusively for the inclusion of Silent Night.

Hot Toys 14″ Alien Warrior Model

A while ago Alien Experience was running a competition to win a Hot Toys 14” Alien Warrior Fully Poseable Model Kit, worth about $200 Australian, which I was fortunate enough to win (Yay me and such). I was asked to do a review, and maybe post some pictures, but being the lazy bastard I never got around to it.

Until now, obviously.

And even then I didn’t take these pictures, but they’re the same type of model anyway.

Le Review

The first thing I noticed, obviously, was the packaging the thing was in. It really is very well done; a simple box shape, yes, but covered in pretty images and made in that material that glows pretty when you catch it in the right light. It also had a slip case covering it, and a fold-out section so you could see your model inside before you opened it.

Next, the model itself. Spend any length of time with me talking about the creature design of the Alien and it’s no secret I violently detest the newest iterations of the Alien (It’s just not the creature I fell in love with, damn it), but pulling that model oh-so gently from its case, it truly didn’t matter. The size and detailing of the thing makes you forget any prejudices you might have and lets you love it as a freaking cool sculpt. It has detail you never even knew existed on places you didn’t think were ever there.

If you ever bought Hot Toys’ smaller snap-kit figures, you’ll know how much of a pain in the ass they are to assemble. Lots of time and care must be taken to ensure that you don’t break off a joint, or snap one of the delicately designed limbs.

Not so here. The size of the model makes assemblage easier, and all the joints pop in with minimal force (Not to say it’s entirely effortless). Hands have to be snapped onto wrists, shoulders snap into shoulder joints, hips attach to thighs, feet to ankles, tail to ass, and back spikes to, well, the back. It’s all self-explanatory, although they do provide handy pictures in case you’ve never seen an Alien before and try to attach the foot to the left shoulder.

Then we get to the really cool bit. All the joints bar the shoulders, wrists and ankles are covered in a rubbery material. It really masks the fact that it’s a toy, because essentially all the points of articulation are hidden. You can bend it into almost any shape and it still looks more or less like that was how it was designed to be all along, like a statue.

From this rubbery covering of goodness, which raises our Alien above mere toy, we get two of the best additions I’ve seen on a model. The first is bendy hands. Yes, that’s right – bendy hands. No more hard-cast pre-selected pose hands ruining your chosen dynamic pose, no sir. Now you can bend all six fingers into any shape you want (Within reason, obviously) to complete whatever image you want to give the Alien. I have him firmly grasping a MacFarlane 12” cloaked Scar Predator, and he looks wonderful.

The second best addition comes in the jaw mechanism. While it’s certainly not the first Alien figure to have an extendable second jaw, or even the first model to have a moving mouth to accompany said jaw (Mez-Itz got there years ago, but with nowhere near the sophistication. Not that it mattered.) But it is, as far as I can recall, the first model to have a rubber covering over the mouth to realistically simulate the look of the tendons surrounding the Alien’s mouth as it opens. The lever for the mechanism is located on the underside of the back of the head, as it always is for Aliens, although not as well hidden as the image on the box would have you believe. Push the lever forward and the mouth opens, jaw extending; push it all the way forward into the back of the neck and it locks in place. Press the lever again, and the jaw shoots back inside the mouth.

And it’s got a bendy tail, but geez, what Alien toy doesn’t?

A point should be made on the articulation. This puppy can move. It has joints I didn’t even know existed, and the fleshy rubber body suit allows for such a wide freedom of movement it’s not funny. There are very few limitations in the poses that it can strike – It can’t touch its shoulders, for example – and it can’t really stand on its own two feet without the aid of the tail. Anything else is pretty much fair game.

My only complaint against the model, and this is solely a nitpick, is that under the translucent dome (Which looks awesome) is the Alien’s brain. In the movie, they had a ribbed skull like they always did under the dome, with the brain then inside that. Of course, the brain design is much more visually interesting, so it doesn’t really matter in the long run.

Other than that, regardless of preferences of design, it truly is a wonderful model and, from a technical standpoint, the best damned Alien toy, or figure, or whatever you’d like to call it, that I’ve ever seen.

If you’ve got the money spare, I highly recommend it.


Great packaging. An incredibly detailed sculpt. Not even MacFarlane’s 12” AvP Alien comes close.

Enough articulation to get you darn-near any pose you want. Rubbery bits give it a bit of class and an undeniable air of awesomeness.

Rating: 10/10.

AVP-R Population Trailer

Definitely not of the same intensity as the first, R-rated, trailer for Requiem, this so-called ‘population’ trailer shows us more of the character-story side of the film. That being said, the last half of the trailer is still packed with enough action to convince any fan, whether they saw the Red Band or not, that this film will not be lacking thrills.

The Good

The most interesting angle of this trailer is the same reason it’s dubbed the ‘population’ trailer. As the kills mount the town’s population drops, and as I am told, the numbers are indicative of the actual body count in the film, albeit not exactly accurate down to the last number.

I believe the setup at the beginning is an intentional attempt to lure the viewer into thinking they are watching a trailer for the next run-of-the-mill slasher flick, when out of nowhere all hell breaks loose, and next thing you know the Predator and Predalien are fighting it out toe-to-toe!

The cinematography continues to look fantastic with well lit and uniquely filmed and angled setups. Daniel Pearl and the Brothers Strause most certainly connected in terms of visual style. The film will most certainly prove to look and feel great, I’m sure.

There also continues to be nice touches on the previous films. At 21 seconds in there is a distinct heartbeat reminiscent of Ridley Scotts technique in Alien. It was first implemented by Sir Ridley as a means of unconsciously intensifying a scene. This technique continues into the second half of the trailer, up until about 1:28 in, when the background music mimics a rapid heartbeat. Whether that was intentional or not remains to be seen. Also, in a scene near the end of the trailer, Darcy Benson screams and then an Alien moves in for the kill. That scene is almost identical to the scene in Aliens when Burke is killed by an Alien. Lastly, the scene in which an Alien slowly rises behind an unsuspecting National Guard soldier definitely reminded me of a similar scene in Alien when Ripley meets up with the Alien in the corridor while attempting to reach the Narcissus. Quite creepy.

The Bad

Right off the mark the guitar solo was out of place and cliché. I think an eerie and melancholy bow string overtone would have suited the scene more and, at the same time, added an edge to the setting.

I am also afraid that too many people will continue to draw parallels between Kelly and Ripley and, even more so, Kelly and Molly and Ripley and Newt. I’d really rather not see that dynamic play too large a role in the film. Since Kelly is a veteran soldier I understand she’ll be a key character, but hopefully the maternal protector doesn’t echo Aliens too much.

I also hope that the teenagers don’t play a vital role as heroes. I must admit I cringed slightly when I saw Ricky running and firing what looked like a CAR-15 Colt Commando!

Lastly, and really just a nitpick, but hunters are required by law in most parts of Canada and the United States to wear ‘hunter’s orange’ on the head and torso. It’s a safety precaution that ensures the hunter doesn’t become a target himself. Neither the father nor his son are wearing any hunter’s orange. Sorry, but I know a lot of hunters…

The Ugly

The Predalien design continues to be an issue for me, as the dreadlocks just don’t look right to me. With the Queen crown they don’t sit on the head well and end up looking too bulky. At the same time the Predalien’s lion growl has shades of the ridiculous Alien roars from Resurrection. Hopefully it’s an unfinished sound effect. All-in-all it would seem the Predalien has taken on too many of the Predator traits. An Alien should still be an Alien no matter what host it comes from. Slight variations I can understand, and accept, so here again is hoping the Predalien doesn’t go too far.


In conclusion it’s an entertaining trailer. Problem is I think we were spoiled with the Red Band being so action packed that now we are, or at least I am, expecting more of the same. Which of course is totally unrealistic, lest all the money shots be given away in two minute trailers. In the end I give it an overall rating of 7 out of 10.

AVP-R International Trailer

We now have the newest AvP-R trailer — the International version… and it rocks!

In comparison to the previous trailer, I actually prefer this newer version… while the before-mentioned red band trailer offers more violence, this latter version offers a better build up and contrast in drama — albeit it’s a bit like watching Dawson’s Creek at the beginning of it — nevertheless, it showcases very good-looking Alien and Predator action… and that’s the core of what every Alien and Predator fan wants… the (lowering) population meter of the townsfolk is a great touch, too… as it implies the repercussions and casualties incurred by our kick-ass xenomorphs!

Let the Bug Hunt Begin!

Ah… the heartlands of America… here seen in the trailer as Gunnison, Colorado. While we’ve all seen alien demolition, carnage, and destruction in large, metropolitan cities such as in Independence Day and War of the Worlds — small towns of America offer the most often thought of safest havens and refugees… the message: “Yes, folks, this could happen even in your own backyard…” – if only it could – we wish – LOL!

There are, of course, the topical issues… a loved one returning home from war… and the perennial scenario of the father teaching his son to hunt (of course here, the twist of the hunters becoming the prey).

Acheron/LV-426 (where the Aliens were first discovered) nor the spaceship Nostromo (Ripley’s home ship) this is not… and while those elements of sci-fi geography are sorely missed (see my previous article), however, the vibe and atmosphere of the strongest in the film series – Alien and Aliens – seems to have been captured by the Strause brothers in their AvP-R trailers – the true test will be to see if that intensity translates into the actual final film — and intensity is exactly what this film series needs (and what we’ve all been waiting for!) — while the first two Alien movies delivered it in spades — the others seemed to be “long-lost third cousins” trying to to assimilate with family… and as far as the first AvP movie goes… two battles (the extended Predator vs. Alien – and Predator vs. Queen Alien battles) does not an AvP war make.

No observation is complete without the mention of the shot of the Predator grabbing the Predalien inner jaw/tongue as it intercepts attack — it is definitively classic! — this could prove to be the most bitchin’ alien battle since Ripley took on the Queen…!

The Aliens and Predators are two of the most iconic sci-fi creatures ever created in filmic history! If Fox makes good and builds on this franchise in this seemingly aligned and refreshed way — then perhaps the best is yet to come…