Alien Vs. Predator (Blu-ray)
OK, AVP's concept, such as it is, of pitting two of cinema's most known monsters against each other in mortal combat (not Mortal Kombat) began back in the day as a graphic novel. A graphic novel is a comic book of allegedly higher aesthetic and narrative value not necessarily aimed at little kids. However, even a comic book would be embarrassed at the setup here in which these two cinematic make-up and effects legends duke it out. Any teenager who reads Fangoria magazine could have dreamed this one up. And hell, who cares what he excuses are, we just want to see the Aliens and Predators run amok, which they do.
Suffice it to say Aliens and Predators end up on earth, tucked away in the arctic with a bunch of humans, and hunt and kill each other and the humans that get in the way. Or even stand adjacent.
Since I was once one of those teenagers who read Fangoria, I enjoyed this silly movie although I can't recommend it to anyone else who isn't also a Fangoria reader from way back. You know who you are. Aside from lots of action, blood, and Aliens and Predators, this movie also gets a boost from what the great drive-in movie critic Joe Bob Briggs would have called "gratuitous Lance Henriksen." Good to see Lance looking as grizzled as ever.
AVP is presented by Fox on Blu-ray in a 50GB, dual-layer disc at 1080p/24. While this might seem surprising given the film's 101-minute run time, both the teatrical and unrated versions are provided, and I've been told that since this movie isn't Java-enhanced that means that each cut is presented in its entirety; no seamless branching. This review is based on the unrated cut.
As is so often the case, the technical quality of this less than stellar film is often better than stellar. The image is generally clean, sharp and highly detailed. Fox has crunched AVP< in MPEG-2 and the back cover claims an 18Mbps average data rate. The film, which takes place in the arctic, has a hard, blue and sterile look to it that works for the material. Only in some dark scenes does the image soften and get excessively noisy and grainy in an unhealthy way, and the resolution is good enough to reveal some CGI shots that are less than transparent. Nevertheless, this is a very solid HD transfer that shows that MPEG-2 is hardly the death knell for image quality some claim it to be.
Fox is a big early proponent of DTS-HD Master Audio, in spite of the fact that as I write this I'm not aware of a single component- source or pre/pro- that can decode this codec in its full, lossless glory. Thus, what I listened to was the "core" DTS stream at 1.5Mbps. The sound is every bit as fun, aggressive and involving as one would expect of this sci-fi material. There is crunching bass, and surrounds that are both enveloping and used to great effect for localized, discrete placement that pumps up the action on-screen to Barry Bonds proportions. It's not only loud, there's genuine dynamic range that's very impressive. The only thing that keeps from attaining true reference quality sound is that the effecs aren't as you-are-there- realistic as the very best effects. AVP sounds excelllent but lives just south of the sound of movies like Saving Private Ryan and Blackhawk Down.
While menu overlays onto the moving picture mean that you don't have to leave the movie to skip chapters, change soundtrack options, etc., the commentaries that are available (only) on the theatrical cut are audio only. One includes writer-director Paul W.S. Anderson with Lance Henriksen and Sanaa Lathan, and the other is with the creature snad special effects guys. Also incliuded are a trivia track that runs over the movie, and D-Box motion control system enhancements- shake your booty! The theaterical trailer is also presented in Hd and offers a glimpse of what the origianl photography looked like before processing.
Picture: 8 out of 10
Sound: 8 out of 10