PictureAVP:R is widely framed at 2.40:1 coming with the AVC/MPEG-4 1080p codec and the transfer as a whole is a fine one. It's obviously free of dirt scratches or any other blemishes. Colour delineation is acceptable with strong reds and greens. There's no artefacts to be seen anywhere on this transfer, no enhancement or blocking.
Grain is non-existent although some noise was apparent in the skies over the Predator crash site. In saying that these brighter areas are a joy to behold depth is very apparent and bring forward that wow factor which we're coming to expect from recent transfers. The whites here are strong yet never bloom.
It's the darker areas of this film which suffer. Now I never saw this in the cinema but Uber Reviewer Chris McEneany had that dubious privilege and he indicated that it was dark there too. From a transfer point of view these scenes cannot really be faulted but they are too dark, way too dark. There is some detail apparent, but in the main scenes of interest, where aliens are on the move or the many fight scenes between alien and human or alien and predator the action is slick and fast and the detail is completely lost. You will be wondering at times what's actually going on.
As I say not a fault of the transfer, so the score will remain relatively high, but a problem with the artistic choices taken.
SoundAVP:R has a bombastic DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. Apart from a couple of brief drop outs either due to the disc itself or more likely the software player I was using there's nothing wrong with this track at all and it's all that you would expect from a fast action movie.
The sub is in almost constant use and it goes pretty deep, gunfire, doors, deaths, explosions all have tightly controlled bass. At times though this does detract from some of the other audio on screen at the time, it certainly takes precedence over dialogue or score. When the bass isn't kicking in though the dialogue is crisp enough, but the actual dialogue itself is nonsense so you'll probably be tuning out waiting for the next action scene just round the corner.
Steerage is well handled and at times definitely adds to the feeling of ambiance. The opening scenes after the Predator ship crashes and the face huggers are on the loose in the forest is a good example. Their scuttering movements panning from rear speaker to rear speaker and pulling the viewer into the movie. This is a great example of audio heightening the visuals on screen.
- Commentary with The Strause Brothers and Producer John Davis
It's more than apparent that the two brothers do enjoy this franchise; they relate facts from the film which have been taken from earlier versions. John Keeps them on track at times before they wander off into self congratulation though. It's good enough from these small snippets point of view but they don't really add anything pertinent to the film itself, other than perhaps the the characteristics of the PredAlien.
- Commentary with Creature Designers Alec Gills and Tom Woodruff.
This second commentary is a bit more lively and enjoyable, however at times you feel it's just a vehicle for these two guys to plug their latest book. I counted at least 5 mentions of it's title and where it can be purchased from. A poor show really. They do discuss the merits of 'real life' creatures using suits as opposed to CGI and this part comes across well. They also discuss their involvement in earlier Alien films.
- Weyland-Yutani Archives.
WOW! This is a massive database containing all the information you're ever likely to need regarding the Alien and the Predator. Snippets have been brought together from the films and the comics to produce a detailed look at their histories, amour, weapons, social structure, the list goes on. It's a tomb to wade through and true fan boys will perhaps find this the most interesting items on this disc. The textual information is backed up with 3-D CIG models and film clips.
- Preparing for War; Development and Production. - 0:15:52
I quite enjoyed this small featurette if only to see what the PredAlien looks like in daylight. In the film it's often shrouded too much in darkness and you never get a good look. Discussions over the merits and certification rating of alien vs human gore is discussed, production values, 'live' aliens over CGI.
- Fight to the Finish; Post Production. - 0:12:13
Editing is discussed, what to keep and what not to keep. Animatronics are mentioned and why they were used to set scenes. Sound effects are touched upon and the earlier films from which they came.
- A Nightmare Returns; Creating the Aliens. - 0:07:34
Giger is obviously discussed and his input into the very first Alien film. How the alien has evolved since that time with reference to Aliens, the Queen and the Hive. Face Huggers, my own personal favourites, are mentioned and the different versions again which have popped up in the franchise.
- Creating the PredAlien. - 0:08:21
How much Alien is in there compared to how much Predator. They settled on 20% Predator with its main needs being derived from the Alien social structure. They always refer to it as a 'she' obviously because like the Queen it's going about laying eggs. They wanted to show how a warrior type could rekindle a new hive.
- Building the Predator Home world. - 0:06:37
They had some concepts from the first AVP film of what to show here, they requested artistic drawings and persuaded the powers that be to show a brief glimpse of the Predator's Home world. In the end it produced one of the better scenes in the film, glorious colours and detailed landscapes.
- Still Galleries.
7 galleries which you navigate through with your remote. These include The Predator, The PredAlien, the Aliens, and certain movie scenes.
- Theatrical Trailers.
Two trailers for AVP:R, save yourself the bother of the film and just watch these.
- Additional Trailers.
Trailers for AVP, Behind Enemy Lines, Planet Of The Apes and Transporter.
This two disc unrated set also comes with a digital copy. This allows you to download from the second disc a version to your PC for viewing on the move. It's a neat idea and works well though Microsoft Media Player but why would you want to take this film on holiday with you I ask myself.
Also you have the option of playing the theatrical version of the unrated edition. The only reason this films exists is to capture the extended butchery in the unrated edition so the theatrical variant will hardly be played by anyone I would imagine. However it is a good example of seamless branching and you really cannot see the join. Also one of the extras pops up a small icon whenever additional unrated edition scenes are shown.
Fox seem to be getting their act together with their extras package these days and this should be commended. The commentaries themselves are not be up to much and the featurettes are watch once type of affairs but at least they're trying.
VerdictIt's hard to see a loved one die and that's what I feel we are seeing here with the continuing efforts to map the comic creation of the Aliens Vs Predator universe into two classic Sci-Fi franchises. The first had at least a good grounding even though it perhaps wasn't implemented well; this second instalment though just sounds the death knell.
AVP:R adds nothing of any worth the to the mix as a whole. Alien 3 showed us that the Alien eventually takes on some genetic characteristics of the host body and this obviously makes sense. The genetic fusion of the Alien and the Predator in this film though adds nothing to the understanding of the alien breed as a whole. OK so it has mandibles and some dreadlocks; big deal.
Characterisation is non-existent, the plot makes no sense whatsoever and the characters seem to perform only to reproduce scenes shown to much better effect in earlier films. Die-hard fans will have this in their collection if only for completeness and even then some will have it there grudgingly. Others will rent and be glad they never forked out more of their hard earned cash for a film which really is a gore fest and nothing else. Taking this film into the territory of gore and only gore is not what these films were initially all about and that's something the Brothers Grimm have to take sole responsibility for. Being the fan boys as they state they are they should have known better.
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- Commentary with The Strause Brothers and Producer John Davis