Hey, what’s up loyal readers? It’s Double D here again with another review for you all! There are so many big movies coming out this summer, I can barely keep up.
Anyways, I went out to a couple of movies this week, because I wanted to see both of them and those movies would be Predators, because Predator is awesome and I never expected them to make a new one, but I’m so glad they finally did and Despicable Me, Universal’s competitor in the race against Toy Story 3, Shrek: Forever After and How To Train Your Dragon for animated dominance so far this year. So, let’s see how they stack up, starting with Predators, because I saw it first. I’ll hopefully post a separate review for Despicable Me by the weekend, because this Predators review is just too damn long to make it a double review.
I was probably more excited than any of my friends when I found out there was another Predator movie coming out. I was even more excited when I found out more of the details about it. First off, Robert Rodriguez was involved. No one understands b-movies like this man. He can take a plot that in any other hands would be just plain awful and make it surprisingly entertaining and fun in most cases. He just gets it when it comes to over-the-top action films. He wasn’t directing the film however, merely working as a producer, probably too busy with his full-length Machete film (based on the hilarious trailer that features before the start of Planet Terror) to direct this film as well, so he left it in the capable hands of relative newcomer, Nimrod Antal. I’ve never seen any of this man’s other films, so I couldn’t judge his abilities prior to seeing this film. I was also excited however, as soon as I heard the plot. A group of deadly humans is snatched up and taken to the Predator homeworld where they’re let loose in a giant game preserve and hunted like deer. Now that was an exciting plot, taking an established franchise and building on it in a new, fresh and exciting way that didn’t require any of the original cast members, but still builds on the mythos established by the first two films without trampling on it or completely ignoring it either. I had worries that a new Predator film would either try to remake or “reboot” the series, without any good reason. Sure Predator 2 kind of sucked, but there was no reason they couldn’t keep the series going with new characters in a different setting. Besides, the basic predator formula is always the same. You take some tough-as-nails macho men/women, throw them into a desperate situation and add a killer alien with technology that can spear you alive, blow your head up or rip your skull right out of your body and then watch the macho men/women either break down under the pressure (and then later be brutally killed) or man up and take on the monster head on! The formula hasn’t changed much here and thank goodness for that, because there’s nothing more fun in my mind than watching people trying to survive against monsters whose powers they can barely comprehend and end up being pegged off one by one.
So, does this mean Predators was clichéd? Yeah, more or less. All the characters were stereotypes and it wasn’t too hard to guess what was going to happen by the end. Was it predictable? Well, besides a few well placed surprises, pretty much. You knew most of these characters were going to die and you can probably guess with relative ease within the first 20 minutes what order they’re all going to die off in. Does this mean it’s bad or not entertaining though? Hell no! The point of a Predator movie is not to be something extremely intelligent or challenge the audience’s moral ideals. This is not American Beauty. It’s a freakin’ monster that blows heads up! When you walk into the theatre knowing that you’re going to see a Predator movie, all you want are cheap thrills, but good cheap thrills. Well this is cheap thrills at their awesomest. There’s blood, there’s guts, there’s explosions, there’s surprises waiting around every corner and there’s even a f***ing sword fight with a Predator! I challenge anyone to come up with anything more awesome! Besides a space battle with dinosaurs I’m drawing a complete blank here.
Predators wastes no time cutting to the action. The opening scene is of Adrien Brody falling from the sky with his parachute refusing to open until the last minute, now that’s what I call cutting to the chase. The next ten minutes or so sets up the players in our story. Brody plays the main character, a tough-as-nails ex-CIA agent named Royce. I had my doubts about him in the main role, but they were quickly put away. Brody plays the part perfectly, much to my surprise. His normal, quiet, nice guy nature has been shoved aside entirely. This is not the Adrien Brody you’re used to. Alice Braga, who you may remember from Repo Men and I Am Legend is here as the Hispanic female lead that for some reason is in every predator movie (See Elpidia Carrillo from Predator and Maria Conchita Alonso from Predator 2), she does a decent job here however and provides the kind of strong-natured female you expect in these kinds of movies. Her government access has also allowed her to some pretty top secret information about the character’s foes. Topher Grace also makes a somewhat unexpected appearance as the least threatening character, a doctor named Edwin who doesn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the team. Don’t worry though. They wouldn’t drop him in there without a reason. The rest of the team of human “predators” is rounded out by a Japanese Yakuza (Louis Ozawa Changchien), a Russian Soldier (Oleg Taktarov), an African Officer (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali (and you thought the Japanese guys name was tough)) a Mexican Crime-Lord (played perfectly by the always awesome Danny Trejo (who probably has his work cut out for him between this and the upcoming Machete movie) and last, but certainly not least is Stans, a rapist/murderer sentenced to death row before being dropped on the planet. He is played absolutely perfectly by a guy you’ve probably never heard of (but have now) called Walton Goggins, who turns in quite possibly the strongest performance here, playing the knife wielding psychopath perfectly. At one point Stans even goes so far as to show the characters a tattoo of a naked woman on his belly. One of the characters asks if that was his girlfriend and he says with just the right amount of displaced anger, “No, it’s my sister.”
Through the movie the characters come into contact with not just the predators themselves, but the dogs they use for hunting, some traps set by a former prey, some of the other aliens that have also been dropped on the planet and even a super-predator as they discover that there are actually two races of predators on the planet who are constantly at war with each other. As you can see there are a lot surprises here and the movie expands the somewhat unexplored world of the predators quite excellently. This is not just a species that comes to Earth every ten years and kills a bunch of tough guys for fun. They are becoming a fully developed race with more background and history than we could ever know and as a complete geek, this excites me. Another obstacle they run into is in the form of a former survivor, played by Laurence Fishburne, who’s spent so much time on the planet that he’s started to go crazy and even talks to an imaginary friend. I was a little disappointed that he wasn’t the tough “survive against all odds” type that I thought he was going to be based on the trailer. It was only short disappointment though as I quickly realized that Brody’s character had already filled that role nicely and Fishburne plays the part with a bit more realism, because let’s face it, if you were stuck in this place for more than a few years, you’d go crazy too. It turns out to be another one of the many interesting surprises that help balance out the typical moments in the script.
Now, I’m not going to lie and say this movie was perfect in any way. No Predator movie is, even the original gets laughable at times. Remember the part where Billy Duke is talking to himself about how much he misses Jesse Ventura while that over-the-top army theme plays underneath (“I’m gonna cut your name into ‘em!”). I laugh at the movie every time I see that part. I’m not gonna lie and say this movie isn’t without those moments as well, but in a way that’s what makes these movies likable, isn’t it? I felt a few things were slightly under-developed however. Usually I’d complain about seeing too much of the monsters in a monster movie (See the Alien Vs. Predator movies), but here I almost felt like I wanted to see more of them, especially the awesome super-predator, who I felt was sadly under-used and could have really been cool if we got to see him a bit more. Instead he isn’t fully revealed until the end and then disposed of entirely too quickly. Most of this is done so the movie can keep moving forward at a break-neck pace however and I don’t entirely blame them. It never gets boring or repetitive by any means, but can you really have too much of something totally wicked?
So, in the end Predators was mostly what I had hoped for when I heard there was going to be another Predator movie. There were a few disappointments, but in the long run they didn’t fail to deliver the goods where action, gore and overall fun are concerned. You can go ahead and chalk this one up there with Alien, Aliens and the original Predator in the category of totally awesome man versus super-powered alien movies.
It really deserves a 3.5, but because I’m a fanboy I’m gonna have to give Predators a 4/5 and say it’s totally worth seeing in theatres. This is what the big screen was made for. It shows that not everything has to be in 3D to be relevant and entertaining. Sometimes what we really need is some old-school fun and that’s all Predators really is, but that’s all it really needs to be too.
Stay tuned for more reviews and fun stuff, including my top 25 countdown as soon as I get around to making one (don’t worry I haven’t forgotten my promise to make this list from like 8 posts ago) and my Despicable Me review. So keep those comments coming guys, I really appreciate them and don’t forget to keep coming back for more, only on thisweekingeek.net!
And remember if it bleeds, we can kill it!