Friday, April 8, 2011

AVP, or How to Lose My Interest in A Single Scene

After watching and really enjoying Aliens, I decided to try the newest series in the franchise, AVP, Aliens Versus Predator. This was not a mistake, because it did not waste a lot of my time, and it gave me something to write about.

I made it to the second scene, at which point, the film strained my credulity beyond my interest in continuing.

Here's the scene: An ice-climber in Nepal. We are told this on-screen. Nepal.

The ice-climber's phone rings. I live in Vermont, and there are places where you can't get cell reception. I seriously doubt that there is good cell coverage in Nepal, let alone on isolated ice flows. Strike 1.

And then the ice-climber, hanging on a vertical ice flow, answers the phone. Yes, this was pretty inevitable when the phone rang, because it doesn't do to have a phone ring and no one answer it. But it just heightened the unfolding absurdity. Ice-climbing alone, and answering our cell phone as if it were a priority. Strike 2.

The third insult, and the point at which I turned the film off, was the "awesome reveal" at the end of the scene. After having a conversation with the person on the other end of the line, the ice-climber decides to go meet with the person who has called her. And she climbs to the top, and it is revealed that the guy she's on the phone with is up there, with a helicopter, ready to whisk her away.

This is another example of a tiresome trope of "What happens off-screen is silent." You can't sneak up on anyone with a helicopter, especially not somewhere as silent and abandoned as an isolated ice-flow a few days from civilization. Are we to believe that he flew in while she was sleeping and set down? That he's got a cool stealth-copter? That he flew in, landed, and she just didn't notice?

The scene is clearly intended toward the reveal of the helicopter already being there, impressing us with the Company's reach and grasp. Nowhere is beyond the Company's grasp, and they've got the resources to find you no matter where you are. But the scene doesn't make sense if you think about (yes, I understand that's a problem) what had to happen off-screen to make the scene work. And that attitude, in my experience, does not make for a good script.

So goodbye, AVP, it was time to watch a film with a better thought-out script.

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