Picking up where Aliens vs. Predator (2004) left off, this sequel kicks into gear with the impregnated Predator giving birth to the so-called "Pred-Alien." It creates chaos aboard the Predator spaceship, which promptly crash-lands on planet Earth in the woods near Gunnison, Colorado. A father and son hunting party are first to fall victim to the face-huggers, while a distress signal alerts a lone Predator (Ian Whyte) who arrives to clean up the mess. Elsewhere, recently released ex-convict Dallas (Steven Pasquale) shares an awkward reunion with his best friend-turned-Sheriff Eddie Morales (John Ortiz) and younger brother Ricky (Johnny Lewis), who is out to romance teen queen Jessie (Kristen Hager) away from her asshole boyfriend. Also returning home, US marine Kelly O'Brien (Reiko Aylesworth) struggles to reconnect with her estranged husband and little daughter, Molly (Ariel Grade). The whole town is caught in the crossfire as the alien combatants rip the place apart.
Apparently, effects artists-turned-first time filmmakers Cole and Greg Strause were the first ones to pitch an Aliens vs. Predator movie years ago. While Twentieth Century Fox handed the franchise elsewhere, the brothers cut their teeth doing special effects for the likes of 300 (2007) before series producers David Giler and Walter Hill gave them a shot. Following Paul W.S. Anderson's movie there is a bigger emphasis on gloopy deaths and hi-tech hardware and less on suspenseful, competent filmmaking. They reprise familiar tropes from both franchises - the Alien snarling in a woman's face bit from Alien 3 (1992), the monsters ambush of National Guardsmen heard over the radio in a nod to Aliens (1986), dialogue lifted straight from the original Predator (1987) - but this lazy, fan-boy referencing adds nothing.
The small town setting harks back to Fifties alien invasion quickies, but the personal dramas are shoved aside. A host of unbearably vapid characters exist purely to squeal (little Molly), fire guns while screaming "Argh!" or make way for the next novelty death. Aylesworth's Iraq war veteran carries potential, although she degenerates into a tenth-rate Sigourney Weaver wannabe, while broody, colourless Pasquale and glassy-eyed Ortiz prove the worst offenders. A few monster battles are cool in a comic book sort of way, but involve lots of skulking around in the dark. Daniel C. Pearl's murky cinematography leaves it hard to discern what is going on or get a decent look at - the admittedly clunky - "Pred-Alien." Also we only get one Predator this time round. Must be due to the credit crunch.
Nearly two decades ago, David Fincher was thought cruel for showing Newt cut up on the autopsy table. This instalment is unbelievably callous with an alien bursting out from a little boy's chest and a truly repulsive scene where the Pred-Alien lays its eggs inside a whole maternity ward of screaming pregnant women. Not a single death means anything while the film is only interesting as a vision of shell-shocked America in the latter days of George W. Bush. The one character who sensibly suggests they leave town is told "you're too stupid to talk!", while later on another remarks "the government doesn't lie to people!" The government's ruthless, final solution recalls Return of the Living Dead (1985), but the way everyone shrugs this off as "we're just doing our job" is unintentionally chilling. Francoise Yip, from Rumble in the Bronx (1995), supplies the pointless in-joke coda that means nothing to anyone except die-hard Alien fans.