ALIEN VS. PREDATOR (2004) and Overcoming Your Enemy
NOTE: Originally published in The Sci-Fi Gospels. Photos added.
“The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Producers: John Davis, Gordon Carroll, David Giler, and Walter Hill
Director: Paul W. S. Anderson
Writer: Paul W. S. Anderson
Runtime: 101 minutes
Rating: PG-13 for violence, language, horror images, slime and gore.
Scripture Reading: Luke 6:27-29
The movie that made Sigourney Weaver demand to be killed off in Alien 3 for fear of having to star in it, AVP, as it is commonly abbreviated, was rushed into production due to the success of Freddy Vs. Jason, halting a potential Alien 5 written by James Cameron and directed by Ridley Scott.1 So I guess the tagline was right: “whoever wins, we lose.” The result is a divisive film that fans long wanted, dating back to Predator 2, which showed an Alien skull on display in the Predator's trophy case, but didn't live up to expectations.
Aliens and Predators have done battle in numerous comics, video games, and even a 1990s toy line by Kenner, featuring such wacky variations as the Killer Crab Alien and Lava Planet Predator. Yet, this film was a bridge too far for some. Granted, the plot is slim, and the CG is terrible, but Alien vs. Predator has incredible sets, solid practical effects, good action, and a few characters who are genuinely likable.
An unexpected heat bloom 2,000 feet below the ice in the most remote part of Antarctica alerts dying business mogul Charles Bishop Weyland (Lance Henricksen, Bishop in Aliens) of an ancient pyramid. He assembles a crew and brings them to a trap where Aliens are bred once every 100 years for the Predators to hunt as a rite of passage. The team is systematically taken off the board as our heroine, Lex, and a sole surviving Predator named Scar race to ensure that the Aliens don't spread to the surface.
In the interest of transparency, I watched the unrated director's cut of the film, which not only benefits from gore that had been left on the editing room floor but also added character development and world-building. One of the best moments is when the crew discovers a chamber with all the skulls of the previous souls who volunteered to be sacrifices, leading to the reveal of a frozen facehugger, introducing it to both the cast and audience. A good sequel should be able to stand on its own without having to see previous entries. The extended cut mostly does so, and I recommend that version over the theatrical.
What brings Lex and Scar together is the assertion that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” She gives back a stolen weapon in a show of solidarity, then kills an Alien, impressing him. Scar, in turn, makes her a spear and shield. It's brief but effective, proving why it's always better to show and not tell.
How do you identify enemies in your life? Do you cast entire swathes of people as an enemy because they differ from you ideologically, or are you more specific, regarding only those individuals who harm you on purpose? Scripture has much to say on how we should treat and respond to enemies but is largely silent on the topic of how to figure out who our enemies are; rather, it talks about who our neighbor is. To elucidate, Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan, someone from a rival tribe who helped an Israelite when the religious leaders of his people turned their backs on him. To Jesus, the best example of a neighbor was an enemy who did the right thing. Similarly, despite the fact that the Predators have used humans as hosts for Aliens for centuries, Lex and Scar recognized a higher goal and chose to work together. In the process, they earned one another's respect, and Lex herself won the respect of the Predator clan, who honored her as the winner of the hunt by presenting her with the staff of victory.
Luke 6:27-29 says to “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also.” (ESV). Turning the other cheek doesn't mean looking the other way; it means submitting to our enemy, like Lex offering her cheek to Scar when he marked her with the acid blood of the Alien as a sign of her status in the clan. That burn will last forever. The indignities we suffer, however, are temporary compared to the upward call to love our enemies, because when we turn an enemy into a friend, we all win.
- Do you prefer Alien or Predator? What do you think that says about you?
- Who do you identify as an enemy? Why?
If you enjoyed this examination of Alien Vs. Predator, you might like my book, The Sci-Fi Gospels, a devotional of spiritual lessons we can learn from 30 of the best science fiction ever made. Get your copy here.
A Queens native, Jason grew up in Lakeland, FL and attended Rochelle School of the Arts before moving to Florida's Nature Coast, where he resides. He always dreamed of being a storyteller, and he graduated Magna Cum Laude from Saint Leo University with a BA in Psychology and a Minor in Religion. He has been a professional guest speaker for thirteen years, talking at churches, graduations, and as a guest lecturer at Pasco-Hernando State College.