Saturday, August 21, 2010

How I Became a Fan of Alien and Predator

I am a fan of the two linked series Alien and Predator, which have expanded into their own Aliens vs. Predator franchise. I got into both of the series, funnily enough, from other people’s takes on them. I was a fan of the Animorphs series before them, and was introduced to them through a series of fanfiction (by author Scorpion) crossing over Animorphs, Predator, and Aliens. My interest grew when I became aware of the homages present in the cartoon series ReBoot, which led me to check them out.
I honestly hadn’t heard of either Alien or Predator until reading Scorpion’s fanfics. Though my tastes have since changed, at the time I absolutely loved his fics. I wasn’t sure how much was his creation and how much was from the canon. He had the Predators wearing suits made from Xenomorph skin to be acid-proof, and Xenomorphs controllable by radio, in addition to Dutch and other canonical elements. Though I had never seen either movie, I felt a yearning to seek them out so I could enjoy them, a feeling that was enhanced when I discovered that ReBoot had borrowed elements from them.
I often say that ReBoot is my favorite cartoon series. I’m not sure that’s exactly true, as I also enjoy Avatar: The Last Airbender and other shows. Let’s just say ReBoot is one of my favorite cartoons. ReBoot is one of those shows with an awful lot of references to other media, as well as computer lingo and some inside jokes. Its main villain, Megabyte, in some ways resembles a Predator, with a bomb on his wrist he can set to go off if he’s captured as well as Wolverine blades. Protagonist Dot at one point fights Megabyte in a mecha resembling that used by Ripley in Aliens, and the Xenomorphs themselves are referenced in the design of eggs of deadly creatures found in the Web, which is a place that’s like a cross between outer space and Hell. ReBoot was cool, and I so wanted to watch these movies.
Finally, I got my chance when my dad let me rent Alien from some video store. Now, I didn’t know it at the time, but there was a serious flaw in the tape rented. The audio was damaged and it made this high-pitched whine all throughout the movie. The thing was, though, I didn’t realize it was a flaw in the tape. I thought it was a violin screech intended to produce tension. It was an R-rated horror movie, after all. So, thinking that there was going to be some sudden attack at any moment, I was entirely too tense to enjoy the movie. I came away from the movie thinking that the filmmakers were just trying too hard to shake people up and hadn’t put in much real effort. Fortunately, sometime later I rewatched it and was able to enjoy it as it was made to be enjoyed.
I kept wanting to see the Predator movie, but it was never on. Then one day, it was on… but my dad’s friend was over and we played Taboo, so I only saw little pieces. It wasn’t really how I expected based solely on the fanfics, and I was disappointed. Sometime later, I got to rent the movie to watch all the way through, and it disappointed me that time too. Much later, I decided to try it again. Maybe it was because I significantly lowered my expectations, but I loved it that time! I rented Predator 2, which I enjoyed less because of its focus on the crime and sex, but I really liked the action bits involving the Predator. That discus thing? Coolness!
Then I read on IMDB that one of the skull props in the Predator’s trophy room was of the Xenomorph in Alien, which I thought was an entertaining shout out. I watched Predator 2 again to look for the skull, but I couldn’t find it because I had forgotten what the Xenomorph looked like. So, I decided to watch Alien again, and to my surprise there was no high-pitched screech and I was able to enjoy the movie. I rented all the Alien movies, which at that point went up to Alien Resurrection, and had a marathon. I liked Alien, loved Aliens (especially because of Newt!), somewhat disliked Alien3 (mainly because they killed off Newt!), and barely enjoyed Alien Resurrection, but they’re all entertaining to watch—if just for acid-bleeding aliens.
Bastian: “It's The Neverending Story. I've already read it.”
Koreander: “Ah, but have you ever read a book twice? Books change each time you read them.”
–The Neverending Story II
From that point on, I was a solid Alien and Predator fan. And at that time, Scorpion’s fanfics stopped holding any real appeal. I was more into them when I didn’t know anything about the franchises and could imagine the details for myself. Now that I knew what Xenomorphs and Predators were, I found the fics to be not very well written. That didn’t mean, however, that the concept of blending Alien and Predator was without merit. I then pursued the official Aliens vs. Predator novels and greatly enjoyed them. An official movie take on the concept couldn’t go wrong, could it?
Yes. Yes, they could go wrong. Very, very wrong. Well, to give the first AVP movie credit, it at least had some decent ideas that were halfway decently pulled off and even if it was ultimately forgettable, it succeeded in being entertaining action for the length of the film. AVP:R, on the other hand, was just bad. I didn’t care about anybody, the pace was too quick, the action too hard to see, and the Xenomorph morphology was reimagined so it didn’t even seem like the same species. It had some interesting ideas with the Predalien’s rape symbolism, but it was so badly pulled off that I just didn’t care. I haven’t seen Predators yet, but I’m guessing it’s gonna be bad too. Aw, well, I’ll always have Aliens and Predator.
So, that’s my story of how I got into the Alien and Predator series. I currently own Alien and Aliens on DVD and am thinking about getting Alien3 as well. I don’t have any of the Predator movies, but I think they’re nice to rent every once in a while. Hopefully Predators isn’t as bad as I expect.

No comments: