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Life as a sci-fi/horror victim isn’t what it used to be. Although the otherworldly antagonists of such films have always been the real stars, there once was a time when the bit players were given the chance to engage in furtive sexual encounters with each other—or, at the very least, get off a good one-liner—before being gutted by whatever extraterrestrial baddie happened to be stalking them. But when the actors aren’t even acknowledged in the opening credits, it’s a telling sign of the times. Alien vs. Predator, the fifth installment in the Alien series and the third in the Predator series, pits the two outer-space creatures against each other, with, duh, a group of hapless Earth folk caught in the middle. For the record, Sanaa Lathan, Raoul Bova, and Ewen Bremner are among those who portray the various didn’t-catch-the-name adventurers, researchers, and oil-drillers sent to the Antarctic to investigate an ancient underground pyramid only to become alien incubators and human shish kebab. But we’re not talkin’ Sigourney Weaver here: AVP’s most prominent feature is its utter lack of commitment to either of its franchise’s individual legacies. Alien fans will find themselves outraged at director and co-writer Paul W.S. Anderson’s acceleration of their favorite acid-blood-dripping xenomorph’s growth cycle (from face-hugger to chest-burster to fully grown killing machine in under five minutes, or your money back!), while Predator devotees will undoubtedly laugh themselves to tears at the sight of their beloved warrior race chumming it up with (and, yes, fighting alongside) a human, dreadlocks swinging in the breeze. Yet the film’s biggest disappointment comes in the form of its sheer lack of scale: Instead of the grandiosity suggested by its trailer, AVP features fewer than a dozen aliens, a paltry three Predators—the majority of which are dispatched early on in a series of fast-paced, clumsily edited action sequences—and the same sort of claustrophobic sets we’ve seen, let’s see, four times before. With only ridiculous state-the-obvious dialogue (“Well, that tunnel didn’t dig itself”) and a repetitive cat-and-mouse chase through an ever-shifting stone maze (What could be around this corner?) to keep things moving until the requisite fake-out finale, you might as well just stop yourself at the tag line: “Whoever wins…we lose.”

—Matthew Borlik