July 13, 2010

Movie Review: Predators

predators2_largeIn 1987 a film arrived in theaters that became a landmark of science fiction/action cinema. The movie introduced us to a new movie monster and gave us a cast filled with tough guys. The movie was called Predator and the cast included names like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Bill Duke, and Jesse Ventura. There is enough testosterone there to level a large city. The movie was a hit and spawned an entire universe, including a sequel, comics, books, and a history that has become entwined with the Alien franchise. Unfortunately, on the cinematic front, we have only had one good film. The sequel was not that great and Paul W.S. Anderson did a lot of damage to it and the Alien franchise with the AVP films. All of them have their moments, but the movie monster has been largely wasted on celluloid. Until now. Debatable, sure, but I feel the creature has been given back a lot of what made us like it in the first place.

We now have Predators. It is a true sequel to the original and ignores the missteps made by the two Aliens vs Predator films. Right from the start we knew it was going to be a different Predator film, but we did have producer Robert Rodriguez saying he wanted it to relate to the first film in a similar fashion to Alien and Aliens. That was a good sign. Then casting news came out and this really showed how much the action genre has changed and continues to change through the decades. The 80's was an era that was all about the big guy, Arnold, Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, and the like. These days guys like Matt Damon, Will Smith, and Tom Cruise play the action hero and they are not exactly the same type of guys as we say in the 80's. In any case, this movie has names like Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, Walter Goggins, and Mahershalalhashbaz Ali playing the toughs. I'd say Danny Trejo but that dude is a bad ass.


Any time I hear they are revisiting a franchise like this or remaking a classic I am as curious as I am wary. In the case of this movie, I thought that Rodriguez was the right guy to head up the project mainly because he strikes me as a fan who has respect for what came before and wants to do it the right way. As the trailers and clips began to appear my worries were set at ease. It looked good! Then the good word began to filter out and it was all over.

Now, I have seen the move and am very happy to report that while it may not achieve classic status, it more than delivers the goods. Predators is a lot of fun with interesting characters, big action, some cool Predators, and a big deal of respect for the original. It is very reminiscent of 80's action only with modern production values. It mentions the events of the first film and plays with some of the original's elements making  feel like it truly is part of the franchise.

The story is a fairly simple one. Humans are abducted from Earth and dropped unceremoniously into the middle of a jungle carrying whatever they had on them at the time of their abduction. Those who are dropped must figure out where they and what is going on in their effort to escape. Of course, as these efforts progress they discover something even more dangerous in their path.


It is no secret that they odd collection of individuals find they are on an alien game preserve where they are the hunted. On Earth they were military, mercenary, murderers, and mob enforcers, in short some of the most skilled hunters around. Now they are the hunted, no longer the predator, now they are the prey.

The bulk of the film centers on this group led Adrien Brody's mercenary (yeah, looking at him as an action star mercenary type is a little funny) trying to survive. The Predators show up and proceed to do what they do best. This leads to plenty of action and bloodshed.

Is this a great film? No. What it is is a lot of fun. It is a throwback type of film that has a blending of old-school 80's with a healthy dose of the present in its execution. Director Nimrod Antal proved to be the right guy for the job. He has a good eye and brings a restrained yet dynamic look to his films. The action and jungle setting offer him plenty of opportunities to inject his own flavor into the mix.

This is not a film that will further the art of film making, it will not become a landmark in genre film making, and it is not likely to make anyone's best of the year lists. With that said, the movie was exciting, it made me smile, I left knowing I'd had a good time and I would not be averse to spending some more time with them. It has style, it has humor, it actually helps expand the universe somewhat.

Predators is a fun, breezy action film that will hold your attention and help you forget the mistakes of the AVP films.




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