Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. While not a terrible transfer, the picture fell short of my expectations.
Low-light shots became the primary concern. In fact, they offered the only true problem, but since about 95 percent of the movie came during those kinds of circumstances, that became a major issue. This was a dark presentation, but we didn’t get a moody atmospheric darkness. Instead we found a “what the heck is happening???” form of darkness.
That was my main complaint, as I found it awfully tough to tell what was going on through much of the movie. It became difficult to discern the difference between predators and aliens or to figure out what occurred during fights. It wasn’t just the monsters bathed in darkness, though; humans were stuck in the muck as well, so good luck figuring out who’s who and what’s what through the flick. I don’t know if all the excessive darkness came from the original photography or the transfer, but I don’t really care. All I know is that I had a tough time figuring out what was happening; intentional or not, it was a bad choice.
This flaw was too bad, as the rest of the image seemed pretty good. Blacks were adequately dark and tight, and colors appeared surprisingly full. Movies like this usually offer stylized tones, but Requiem went with a warm, natural palette that showed vivid hues.
Sharpness was perfectly solid – or at least I think so, since it became so tough to see the action. When I could discern the elements, they usually looked crisp and concise, though some light edge enhancement occasionally lent a tentative appearance to wide shots. No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects occurred, and source flaws remained absent. If only the transfer didn’t look so dark, this would’ve been a winner. As it stood, I didn’t feel I could give the image a grade above a disappointed “C+”.
No such qualms greeted the movie’s sound. In terms of audio, Requiem provided both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 soundtracks. Most of the time I think the flicks with both DD and DTS mixes sound pretty much identical; I tend to notice only volume differences, as the DTS tracks are usually notably louder. That trend continued here. Once I adjusted for that factor, I thought the two mixes were very similar.
No complaints come with that observation, as the tracks sounded absolutely terrific. The various action beats flew at us hot and heavy throughout the flick, and they offered nearly nonstop opportunities for lively imaging. Bullets and other weapons filled the spectrum in an involving way, and the various creatures also cropped up around the room in a similarly convincing manner. I liked the “predator vision” effect that put us in the creature’s head, and even quieter moments demonstrated nice environmental information. The tracks provided consistently active and well-rendered soundfields.
All of that would be moot without good sound quality, but the two Requiem mixes satisfied in that regard as well. Effects came across very well, as those elements always appeared accurate and full. Music was also rich and dynamic, and both aspects of the track gave us deep, tight low-end response. Speech was crisp and distinctive at all times. Really, I could find nothing that I didn’t love about these tracks.
Quite a few extras fill out this disc. We find two separate audio commentaries, the first of which comes from directors Colin and Greg Strause and producer John Davis. All three sit together for a running, screen-specific chat. They discuss story issues and changes made for the unrated version, cast, characters and performances, sets and locations, visual effects, score, and some connections to prior movies.
This track proves serviceable. It goes through some basics in a decent manner but never opens up as anything more substantial than that. The participants manage to cover general thoughts about the film and throw in a little humor along the way. Nonetheless, the commentary has a “by the numbers” feel that makes it less than enthralling. I can’t call this a bad chat, but it’s decidedly average.
The second commentary features special effects supervisors/creature creators Tom Woodruff Jr. and Alec Gillis, both of whom also sit together and offer a running, screen-specific piece. They go into all variety of effects they worked on, with an emphasis on the various alien and predator costumes and related concerns. They also tell us a little about the locations and other production subjects, but they spend the vast majority of their time with practical effects.
That gives the commentary an awfully limited focus, of course, but Gillis and Woodruff do their best to make the discussion interesting. Old friends and partners, they joke around with each other and help ensure that the chat usually seems entertaining, even when they have to vamp to fill time during the non-effects shots. The track doesn’t cover a broad enough array of topics to become really satisfying, but it’s an enjoyable enough listen. I could live without their frequent half-joking plugs for their merchandise, though.
Five featurettes follow. Preparing for War: Development and Production runs 15 minutes, 51 seconds and features Greg and Colin Strause, Gillis, Woodruff, Davis, editor Dan Zimmerman, director of photography Daniel Pearl, 2nd unit director Jeff Habberstad, and actors John Ortiz, Reiko Aylesworth, Ariel Gade, Johnny Lewis and Ian Whyte. “War” looks at the original script and changes made along the way, casting, the Strauses and their directorial style, practical effects and the creatures, visual design and cinematography, and locations and sets.
“War” turns into a perfunctory piece. The shots from the set work as the best elements; they provide some nice glimpses of the production, though they fly by too quickly. The information offered tends to be pretty basic, unfortunately, as “War” rarely rises above the level of promotional program.
For the 12-minute and 13-second Fight to the Finish: Post-Production, we hear from the Strause brothers, Zimmerman, senior VFX artist/voice actor Matthew Santoro and animation supervisor Joshua Cordes. The show looks at editing and changes made for the unrated cut, visual effects, virtual sets, music and audio. Despite its focus on technical issues, “Fight” offers a lot of fun information. We get good facts about these areas plus entertaining bits about the audio, especially when we meet Santoro and hear his Predator impression. This is a surprisingly enjoyable show.
Next comes the seven-minute and 34-second The Nightmare Returns: Creating the Aliens. It includes the Strause brothers, Woodruff and Gillis. As implied by the title, the program looks at creature design. The participants cover influences from the prior flicks and various choices made for the critters. Some of this repeats from the commentaries, but we get a good overview that’s bolstered by useful visual support.
Crossbreed: Creating the Predalien fills eight minutes and 21 seconds with statements from Gillis, the Strause brothers, and Woodruff. “Crossbreed” follows in the same vein as “Nightmare” except it concentrates solely on the “Predalien”. We learn a lot of cool details about the creature in this tight show.
Finally, Building the Predator Homeworld goes for six minutes, 37 seconds and provides remarks from the Strause brothers, Santoro, and Cordes. We learn about the set and production design for our first glimpse of the predator planet. This becomes another useful and interesting piece highlighted by looks at the concepts the filmmakers didn’t pursue.
Seven Still Galleries appear as well. These cover “Designing the Predator” (15), “Designing the Alien” (10), “Designing the Predalien” (19), “On Set: The Rooftop” (16), “On Set: The Sewer” (16), “On Set: The Hive” (10) and “On Set: Cast and Crew” (30). You’ll find a reasonable number of good shots here, though the best ones show up in the “Designing” collections.
A collection of ads completes the disc. We find both “green band” and “red band” trailers for Requiem, while Fox on DVD presents reels for The Onion Movie, Hitman, Bachelor Party 2: The Last Temptation and Possession. Also, a few ads open the DVD. We get clips for the PC-relayed “digital copy” feature, the FX cable network, Jumper, and In the Name of the King.
Want to watch Requiem on the go? Then you’ll be happy to find a Digital Copy on DVD Two. This lets you transfer the flick to your computer, iPhone, iPod or other modern gizmo the youngsters love. Nothing else appears on DVD Two; it’s devoted solely to this digital copy. Wow – if the murky visuals made it tough to discern the action on my 50-inch widescreen set, I can’t imagine what this thing would look like on a three-inch video iPod screen!
Not that I’d feel particularly inclined to watch Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem again in any format. I love the Alien series, and Requiem had a lot of potential to be a winner. However, it combined a non-existent story with flat characters, boring action and bland acting to become a forgettable adventure. The DVD offers excellent audio and a pretty good roster of extras, but the excessively dark transfer was problematic. Requiem was a forgettable disappointment.