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Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem

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The Alien and the Predator, monsters from a great science-fiction film and an above-average one, respectively, have been reduced in "Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem" to featured attractions in a dull actioner that looks like a bad video game.

The first "AVP" pairing in 2004 at least played the monster mash for camp humor. Yet this new film, which opened as counter-programming on Christmas Day, sends the space creatures and their human victims through an antediluvian small-town-under-siege plot that was so nicely satirized this year in Robert Rodriguez's "Planet Terror" portion of "Grindhouse."

"AVP" grossed $80.3 million domestically but "Requiem" is unlikely to stir that kind of interest. The old A and P monsters just aren't what they used to be. Familiarity has done them in.

Consider that great signature moment from Ridley Scott's "Alien" way back in 1979, when an alien baby burst unexpectedly from a poor astronaut's gut. It was truly shocking. Weren't moviegoers supposed to have fainted? Here the directors, who bill themselves as the Brothers Strause, get to that moment right away -- and then again and again and again. A great screen moment turned into to a carny sideshow.

Aliens cause a Predator spacecraft to crash near the small Colorado mountain town of Gunnison, killing the Predator pilot. Another Predator follows his pal, discovers him dead, gets all emotional, then goes on an Alien hunting trip. He certainly has many targets.

The Aliens incubate and reproduce in humans at a rapid rate so Gunnison becomes a virtual shooting gallery for the sometimes invisible Predator. Trouble is he isn't too careful about what else he hits -- humans or a nuclear power plant. The town blacks out on a rainy night while the rampaging monsters devour and destroy humans left and right.

The town's sheriff (John Ortiz) is overwhelmed. In fact, he is so nuts he keeps bringing along an ex-con (Steven Pasquale), just out of prison, on all his investigations. The ex-con's younger brother (Johnny Lewis) is fighting off the town bully over a girl (Kristen Hager) but all is swiftly forgotten as the teens get dispatched one by one.

So lacking in imagination is this movie that the Brothers Strause and writer Shane Salerno keep scrambling back to the original movie for inspiration. Reiko Aylesworth's Iraq War veteran is a carbon copy of Sigourney Weaver's Ellen Ripley as she fights the monsters in skin-tight clothes with guns a-blazing to protect her daughter (Ariel Gade).

Character and dialogue are strictly rote with jaw-dropping lines occurring like Aylesworth's when someone notices that her daughter is a bit shaken, having just seen her daddy devoured by a monster, which then chased them all over town: "It hasn't been an easy night for her," her mom says. No, it hasn't.

Fights between the space fiends are tiresome affairs of zaps, gun bursts and acid blood plus a blue liquid Alien Cleanser the Predator keeps pouring everywhere to dissolve the creatures. Meanwhile, the soundtrack is filled with peculiar gurgles, crackling, hisses, clicks and electronic noise, all backed by Brian Tyler's relentless, pulsating score.

ALIENS VS. PREDATOR: REQUIEM

Fox
A John Davis/Brandywine productionin association with Dune Entertainment

Directors: Greg Strause, Colin Strause
Screenwriter: Shane Salerno
Based on the Alien character created by: Dan O'Bannon, Ron Shusett
Based on the Predator character created by: Jim Thomas, John Thomas
Producers: John Davis, David Giler, Walter Hill
Executive producer: Paul Deason
Director of photography: Daniel C. Pearl
Production designer: Andrew Neskoromny
Music: Brian Tyler
Creature effects designers: Alec Gillis, Tom Woodruff Jr.
Costume designer: Angus Strathie
Editor: Dan Zimmerman

Cast:
Dallas: Steven Pasquale
Kelly: Reiko Aylesworth
Morales: John Ortiz
Ricky: Johnny Lewis
Molly: Ariel Gade

MPAA rating R, running time 86 minutes.