A blog about movies and filmmaking.

The Humans Are PREDATORS, Get It??

In action, sci-fi on July 15, 2010 at 4:24 pm

The new Robert Rodriguez produced, Nimrod Antal (ARMORED, KONTROLL) directed movie, PREDATORS – a much more apt sequel of sorts to the original 1987 John McTiernan movie PREDATOR – starts off wrong just in it’s initial premise. My problem is that the alien race represented in the PREDATOR movies, are not sly, little grey aliens that abduct people. They’re warriors, hunters, games-men(?). So, the idea that they’re going around to other planets, especially Earth, to kidnap the “worst of the worst” so to speak, is kind of ridiculous. And even if they were, would they really pick a few of the people we see in this movie? Yeah, the soldiers that carry around the big guns and are much more appropriate for the game of “hunting men”; they make sense. A prisoner on Death Row, a mysterious nerdy “doctor”, and sorry Yakuza-guys, but a Yakuza soldier trained in the way of the samurai (or does every Asian know how to sword fight?), they just don’t fit.

The original movie, and the original group that faced off against a single Predator, made sense. You see Arnold and the crew he has gathered, and you believe these are bad men, capable of stopping just about anything. Plus, they’re a team. The alien drops into a guerilla war-zone, and came across some American soldiers-of-fortune. The fun of the original was that it played like it was RAMBO and an alien shows up. The other major misstep that the new movie makes is that these are supposed to be the baddest, meanest killers on Earth – and at the beginning they don’t know that they’re not on Earth, or is it a spoiler to reveal that? – and yet, most of the beginning of the movie is us seeing these guys (and lady) being frightened, disoriented, and in general not really showing that they’re that bad. We’re introduced to one character as he’s opening fire on the other main characters, but then his gun jams and he can’t fix it. Really? That’s the kind of prey Predators are looking for? The original crew looked the part, acted the part (is there a more bad-ass saying than, “I don’t have time to bleed.”???) The most similar line in this movie is, “I talk too much.” Doesn’t really compare, does it?

So, despite the opening to this post, I have to say that PREDATORS is a pretty fun movie. You kind of have to let go of the hope that it’s going to stand up next to the original – which I admittedly haven’t seen in years, but feel like I’d still love it. But the acting and characters, for the most part, are good and fun. Adrien Brody, as the lead guy named Royce (is it a spoiler, because he actually doesn’t introduce himself til the end of the movie?), muscles up and in attitude is believable, but no matter how much muscle he packed on, the gun he carries still looks thicker than him. Alice Braga, as Isabelle, is also a nice throw-back to the old 80’s movies that had one bad-ass chick that is tougher than most men. She also carries a large sniper rifle. The rest of the cast is filled out by actors large and small; from Topher Grace and Walton Goggins to Oleg Taktarov (he’s played a goon in a number of movies, and was a UFC guy) and Mahershalalhashbaz Ali (CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON, and I really just wanted to write his name out). Danny Trejo and Laurence Fishburne are also around.

The Predators themselves, look pretty great and it’s an interesting concept in that the planet that our leads are brought to also has a history between the kind of creatures that we are familiar with, as well as their bigger, fiercer enemies. The bigger ones look the same, only their mandibular phalanges are larger and they also decorate their helmets with the bones of their victims. I say they look great, because they’re actually pretty closely modeled after the original movie’s creature effects – as opposed to the bad looking recreations that were used in the ALIEN VS. PREDATOR movies, which made them look stockier – if not down right, pudgy. But there’s also a bit of cheesiness in the look of the creature – like in how their upper (main) jaw just looks strange in the way it’s designed; but it also fits into the movie because the whole thing has a cheesy vibe to it. And I kind of feel like that’s why it works.

Anyway, I haven’t really talked to much about the story and that’s because it’s not very interesting – or even much more complex than these people wake up, don’t know where they are; but figure out that they’re being hunted. Predators show up and people die. That’s really it. There’s a twist that they try to fit in at the end, but by that point it’s pointless and ridiculous. There are some cool moments that pay homage to the original movie – such as the character that carries the mini-gatling gun (that Jesse “The Body” Ventura carried previously), a seeming blade to blade fight is given way too much attention in this movie (as opposed to what is just hinted at in the original with Sonny Landham) with Yakuza-man, Louis Ozawa Changchien, and there’s even the “Come on, do it! Kill me!!” line.

Overall though, I was disappointed with the movie. I love Rodriguez’s movies, and while the initial premise here might seem cool – and seemingly comes from an idea he had a long-time ago, brought to life now by the first-time writing team of Alex Litvak and Michael Finch – but it just doesn’t fit with the bare-bones, hardcore action movie that was given to us by brothers Jim and John Thomas, creators of the original movie. And that’s the problem; this movie is sold as a “true” sequel to PREDATOR – because no one seemingly liked PREDATOR 2 (and I can accept the wanting to gloss over the AvP series).

But, the Danny Glover/Gary Busey movie that took place in the then, far-off future of 1997, had it’s own evolution from the original. It had it’s moments of paying homage and in the end made sense in that it was a single Predator sent to hunt for challenging game, in not a wooded but concrete jungle. And that’s what we, humans, ought to be to these creatures. Game, like us going out and hunting a bear or tiger. Sure the bear or tiger could kill us, but with our hunting equipment, the odds are unfairly in our favor. And the biggest disbelievable thing about the movie is that any of these people can easily dispatch something that even Arnold Schwarzenegger couldn’t. (SPOILERS for the end of PREDATOR, but Arnold doesn’t kill the creature; it’s mortally wounded and tries to kill them both with a massive bomb-device.) So, Arnold kind of won by default, because he survived. (Naturally.) And honestly, I know he’s busy as a Governor right now, but the character that Fishburne plays would have been so much better if it were Schwarzenegger’s Dutch, that’s survived this long on their planet. Imagine that and the possibilities that could have given the filmmakers.

So, I say check it out – and that’s the reason why I’m writing this review; if I didn’t like it and thought people shouldn’t see it, I wouldn’t have written anything about it – but just know that it’s fun for what it is. The best thing about the movie, is getting to listen to the great homage to the original movie’s score throughout. That is what helps make this feel bigger than what it is.

And just for fun, the trailer for the original movie:

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