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Film: 30 Movies in 30 Days: Day 24

This post is part of a month-long project, answering thirty topics about movies over thirty days. The subject for the twenty-fourth day is:

That one awesome movie idea that still hasn’t been done yet

I’m not about to pretend that I have a movie idea that no director has ever tackled, or that I even have enough knowledge of cinema to have a proper awareness of what it has and hasn’t done yet. With that in mind I’ll settle on something that has been tried and seems pretty simple to do but has never been anything but medicore:

Aliens Versus Predator

Aliens Versus Predator

(Click the image for a link to the source)

The idea of pitting two iconic movie monsters against one another isn’t a new idea, and even the alien versus predator idea had been explored in comics and video games before they attempted it in film. The two attempts so far have been fairly poor action movies that fail to live up to either the premise or the two series each species originated from (and as a whole the Predator movies aren’t really that much to live up to), with just enough references to previous films to try and weasel their way into the same universe.

A big part of the problem is that the films aren’t just alien against predator, they’re alien against predator against human. It makes sense to include humans simply to anchor the viewer in something familiar rather than trying to follow two alien species, neither of which speak in a language humans can understand (and dubbing or subtitles just wouldn’t work). The films go too far with the human element though, trying to build up characters for the viewer to care about but not doing it very well (they haven’t come close to anybody like the characters of Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sigourney Weaver, or even Danny Glover), making them unimportant alien fodder that nevertheless take up large chunks of the film.

The alien and predator elements aren’t done that well either. The predators are built up into the ‘good’ side of the conflict, being far more human and easier to relate to than the swarms of aliens, though all the events of the two films stem from them treating humans as worthless alien incubators for their alien hunts on Earth and they do kill humans in the films (less than the aliens would though if they escaped to consume all life on the planet). Their numbers are few but they’re formidable warriors with a range of deadly weaponry.

The aliens follow their steady downward trend through the original quadrilogy (which steadily moved more towards action over horror) from near-unstoppable beasts into flimsy swarms that win out on numbers alone (by Alien: Resurrection they’re not even treated as that horrific, mere monsters to be killed by quipping badasses), with even their acid blood not being as big a problem to the predators as it should be. Much like the Borg in Star Trek they’re a species that has been steadily neutered as they get more exposure.

As I mentioned above they aren’t even great films on their own merits, as action movies or monster mash-ups. While they’re not aiming to be anything more than fun, disposable films about two monsters fighting they don’t do it very well, with the fights often being shown with the same kind of fast cuts and close shots as Transformers and a lot of modern action movies. AVP: Requiem is particularly bad for it, putting such fights in the dark and in the rain and making them difficult to follow.

So how could they make it work? I would probably scale back every side in the conflict so that there are only a handful of aliens and predators, or maybe even in go in the other direction and make it so it requires multiple predators to bring down just one alien, having their numbers steadily whittled down by the alien until only one or two survive. I’d probably put it on a ship because I’d much prefer it to be in an indeterminate time rather than present day Earth and I like seeing inside spaceships.

Though I’ve not seen it yet the most recent film to include either of the species, Predators, sets up the idea of the predators actively collecting species to store on a game reserve planet, so it could be set on a ship transporting species to such a place. It could include some human prisoners if it was really necessary (and a film without any dialogue probably wouldn’t go over well with a mainstream audience), humans that would all be excellent fighters and survivors because they were specially chosen as prey for the ultimate hunters.

I would also let the aliens win for once as they never really do, generally always left behind in something about to explode or be nuked, and in this kind of film the humans and the predators aren’t going to be characters who need to live to appear in a sequel. Leaving the aliens victorious on a ship wiped of all other life and cruising towards a planet would also set up a sequel more easily without feeling like too much of  a ‘to be continued’ ending.

Obviously that’s only the barest of elements for the summary of a movie and wouldn’t necessarily be any good. What an Alien Versus Predator project needs most of all is a talented team behind it with an understanding of what makes each alien great and able to make a decent horror/action movie out of it, which shouldn’t be as difficult to find as 20th Century Fox are making it look.

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