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Feature: Alien vs Predator

Alien spikes Predator

Seven years after Alien Resurrection and 14 years after Predator 2 the aggressive extraterrestrials return for a supercharged smackdown on Earth…

For a serious Sci-Fi fan the responsibility of uniting the mythology of the Alien movies and the Predator series comes as a dubious privilege. On the one hand it offers a chance to indulge the geekiest genre fantasies, but it carries with it the risk of offending audiences who have very particular expectations. This must have crossed director Paul Anderson’s mind more than once when he was splicing together two of the biggest franchises in the Sci-Fi universe.

“The Friday night the movie opened in the States I went to see it play with eight different audiences,” the Newcastle-born film-maker explains with a sigh, “and I watched it with gritted teeth. It’s always a tense moment when you go to see your film play before the paying public. But they were clapping in all the right places, so the response was fantastic.”

For those who did take exception with some elements of the film, or who have criticized some small detail or other, Anderson is at least understanding.

“If you work with a subject matter beloved by a hardcore fan base then there’s bound to be a huge amount of discussion of what you got wrong or right. In some ways you can never please overly obsessive fans, it’s just impossible. That doesn’t mean to say they’re not going to go to the movie and enjoy it.

“It’s just in their nature to discuss things endlessly and be critical of minute details that perhaps don’t have much to do with whether a movie is good or bad or not. I’m like that myself. I am a real fanboy.”

Anderson admits this ‘fanboyness’ will occasionally breach the strict bounds of professional detachment. But when you are the emcee for the showdown between the creepy, reptilian Alien creatures and the rasta-looking warrior-like Predator race, this can perhaps be forgiven. “When you get a shot you really like you do go ‘cool!’,” he chuckles. “And you know if you’ve got it right that that’s the way the audience are going to react. That’s why I make movies, to have the audience react the way you really want them to, and have them applaud at the end of the movie. That’s deeply gratifying.”

Tying together as many loose ends as possible, Anderson took his cue from the fleeting glimpse of an Alien skull seen in the lair of the Predator in Stephen Hopkins’s 1990 sequel. “We were still very careful to stay true to the mythology that existed in all of the films. There’s nothing in our movie that contradicts anything you’re being told in any of the other films in the franchise in terms of the Predator’s behaviour, the story of the Alien or the Weyland-Yutani Corporation, there is a straight linear flow between the movies.”

In the end Anderson finds himself stuck in a curious middle ground, having achieved a lifelong ambition but still looking up to the film hits that inspired him to pursue a career in film…

by Anwar Brett

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Photo © 20th Century Fox
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Ultimate DVD #63
February 2005
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