Thursday, November 18, 2010

Predators (2010)

Title: Predators (2010)

Director: Nimrod Antal

Cast: Adrien Brody, Alice Braga, Danny Trejo, Laurence Fishburne, Topher Grace


Many moons ago, when Rodriguez was directing Desperado, and his career was in diapers still, he wrote a script called PREDATORS. The studio rejected it because it was deemed too expensive at the time. Fast forward many successful films later, and many millions of dollars at the box office and the studio unearths Rodriguez’s script and decides they want to have him resurrect the Predator franchise. Cool thing is that Rodriguez now has his own production studio (Troublemaker Studios) and makes his own movies in his own way. The studio offers him the option of making the film with Troublemaker Studios, in this way giving him and his production crew the freedom and liberty to make this Predator movie in their own way. That is how Predators the film I will be reviewing today, was born.

The film tells the story of a group of individuals who are hurled into this strange planet that resembles earth, but isn’t. They literally wake up while free falling down to this planet! Good thing who ever hurled them down gave them a parachute! And good thing these guys know how to use it. Once down on the planet, they explore their surroundings and ask themselves how they got there. It’s not just every day that you wake up free falling towards a strange and exotic planet with more then one moon. As they explore their jungle like surroundings, they realize that they are being watched, and quite possibly hunted! Turns out this planet is the Predators own private wild life preserve where they raise the creatures that they hunt. Will the humans find a way off this god forsaken rock?

What we got here ladies and gentlemen is a sequel that completely respects the original. So much so that it practically plays out exactly the same way that the original Arnold Schwarznegger film played out. A bunch of tough guys in the jungle running from an invisible creature that hunts them. Some scenes are almost too similar, like those where the guys find dead skinned bodies, scenes where everyone is terrified that there might be something looking on from behind the fauna. And of course, the scene where everyone goes batshit insane wasting amo, shooting at ghosts. So expect lots of similarities with the first film.

Testosterone Overdose coming right up! The tough as nail cast of the original Predator (1987).

Of course, the filmmakers were going to give us some familiarity with this new film. They want us to connect, via our collective nostalgia, to the first film. Let’s face it, if you were a kid through the 8o’s chances are you went to see this movie to the theaters. Or at least saw it at least a gazillion times on VHS or on cable. Schwarznegger films had reached an apex by the time PREDATOR was released in 1987. Schwarznegger was king of action films back then, and this movie took him up a couple of notches in that department. The original was a film for guys, about guys. If you notice, the cast was made up entirely of tough hombres. Cigar chomping, muscle bound, military killing machines. Besides Arnold, the original films cast was made up of a who’s who of tough guys: Jesse Ventura, Carl Weathers and a couple of other tough looking actors. Heck, it was a film produced by king of macho action films Joel Silver, so this film was bound to be a testosterone overdose from the get go. In fact, the original film was such a guys film that the only female presence in the film was a scared native girl they find while investigating the jungles of Guatemala. She is terrified of the creature, but she’ll be alright, she’s got all these tough dudes to protect her! Keeping in line with all the similarities to the original, on Predators we also get a female thrown in the mix played by Alice Braga. The update is that she’s not a scared and horrified girl waiting for the tough guys to protect her; she’s actually a kick ass war torn chick who knows how to handle herself. And a machine gun!

This one is a bit different in that the guys in this film are not addicted to going to the gym everyday to pump iron. On this one we have mostly guys, yeah, but they are a bit more vulnerable. Let’s face it, Adrien Brody isn’t exactly the embodiment of tough looking dudes, he has a more vulnerable looking physique, though I think that helps the story a bit. He isn’t this indestructible looking tank like Arnold. But to Brody’s credit I will say that he did apparently work out to toughen himself up for this role. Topher Grace is also thrown in the mix, and he isn’t so tough looking either. Actually, he plays a doctor! We get a Chinese guy with katanas, and finally, I think the toughest dude on this movie is Machete himself, Danny Trejo. So we get an assortment of tough yet vulnerable dudes to go up against the beasts.

The big difference in this film is that we get more Predators. Hence, ‘s’ at the end of the title. I really liked something about this movie and it’s that we have two warring Predator factions, the younger vs. the older ones. In one awesome sequence we get the older Predator fighting against the older one, and the older one looks exactly like the Predator on the original 1987 film! A great nod to Stan Winston and his work in designing the original beast. The new predators that show up in the film are interesting as well. Kudos to the guys at KNB FX (headed by now make up effects legends Howard Berger and Greg Nicotero) for outdoing themselves once again with yet another batch of excellent make up effects creations. These guys have never disappointed me with their work, and Predators is no exception.

The KNB FX guys give a nod to Stan Winston's original creature design on this new film

This wasn’t the best Predator film ever made; the story feels like it needed a little something extra to make it fully tick. I mean, I didn’t like the fact that they changed the focus from having the Predators be the main threat to having some of the humans become the threat. The main focus of the original was the human vs. the monster. On this one, the film plays out more like CUBE (1997), where we lock a bunch of humans up in one place and see which one shows his evil side first. The story wasn’t as epic or as important as I would have liked for it to be, but we owe that to the studio. They deliberately wanted a smaller film, to test the waters, see how much the audience wants another Predator film. I guess people do want another one, the film went on to make 126 million worldwide. But whatever, I didn’t hate this Predator film which is a good thing. I mean, at least it wasn’t a complete disappointment like Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem (2004) was. Let’s just hope that future films in this franchise improve. Rodriguez himself said that the story can go any number of directions, let’s hope they decide to take things in a more epic direction. There is hope in Rodriguez’s own words: “the bigger movie would actually be what comes following that. Then you can really go crazy from there”. Let’s hope the next film lives up to those words!

Rating: 3 out of 5

Predator (Widescreen Edition)Predator (Widescreen Collector's Edition)Predators ( + Digital Copy) [Blu-ray]PredatorsPredator 2Predator 2 (Two-Disc Special Edition)


venoms5 said...

Nice write up, Fran! I rented this hoping it would be good, but sadly, I didn't care for this movie at all. I got to see the original in the theater and also remember it being advertised in a teaser trailer under the title HUNTER about a year before it ever came out.

I must be the only person who enjoyed ALIEN VS. PREDATOR REQUIEM. It was no great shakes, but it was far more satisfying than the first movie and in ways, I liked it better than this new solo Predator movie.

Rodriguez makes a lot of excuses when his movies don't do so well so it remains to be seen if another Predator movie gets bankrolled at least for a theatrical release. Maybe the upcoming ALIEN movie will be better.

Franco Macabro said...

Seriously you actually enjoyed Requiem? Ugh, I despised that one like you dont imagine! I just hate that you cant hardly see anything, it feels like they were hiding the creatures in the dark, cause they knew they didnt look too so good. Specially that Predalien thing.

And also, that idea of setting the film in small town USA, what a terrible idea having regular folk going up against these creatures.

The PREDATOR film didnt do as well as they expected, but it did surpass the 100 million dollar mark, which is always a good sign. Read that the second film is coming, that the studio wants more so lets see, time will tell I guess.

The upcoming ALIEN films will undoubtedly be better films then all this AVP movies and the last PREDATOR film because they are being directed by Ridley Scott himself, its SCott returning to his horror sci-fi roots! I am personally excited for those films, I am patiently waiting, but when they emerge, I will be first in line! I am sure he will bring these films back to their former glory. NO DOUBT about that!

Thats probably why PREDATORS wasnt that good, the director behind the camera is not a true visionary. I mean, he'd directed that action film ARMORED which I didnt give a crap about because it looked so damn formulaic. Antal is a new guy just getting started. And this is an old franchise which deserved an experienced director behind the camera. Someone with true vision. Not someone learning the ropes.

Im all for letting new guys get their chance on starting their careers, but dont give the franchise to a newbie.

Granted, Scott was a new guy when he started with the ALIEN franchise all those years ago, but he was born a freaking visionary, he didnt have to learn the ropes, the guy was on from the first moment he got behind a camera. The sign of a true artist.

venoms5 said...

I've heard other people say AVP:R was too dark as well. I didn't have a problem making things out (maybe it's the settings I have placed on my TV?) and enjoyed it for what it was. The filmmakers promised to deliver more monsters and gore and they did and that was all I wanted to see from it.

With this PREDATORS movie, though, I expected to see frequent action, not a lot of needless exposition and unnecessary characters, not to mention it was simply a rehash of the first movie just on a different planet. There were things I liked about it, but I doubt I'd watch it again.

Fritz "Doc" Freakenstein said...

I saw Predators at the theater this past July, because of the Robert Rodrigues connection. I should have waited for the blu-ray release. As you mention in your review, Predators is very similar in its basic plot to the first Predator film. The major difference is supposed to be the location: an alien planet(oid). Other than a fairly brief shot of the skyline dominated by an alien planet and several other satellites, the jungle setting of Predators could be any jungle on Earth. Of course, in this film there are three Predators instead of the lone hunter, but, other than a somewhat forced feeling surprise ending, there is little to differentiate it from Predator. I honestly think that the Predator alien race can no longer be reduced to the hunter culture of the previous film and Predators does hint at this at the end of the film. I would have liked to see more of the aliens and their non-hunter species, as was seen at the end of AvP: Requiem. You’re right about the lack of pumped up heroes in Predators. I was initially pleased by the more diverse cast of characters in the film. Unfortunately, none of them were given much more to do than show off their special talent for killing. Predators had the potential to be a great action-sci-fi-horror hybrid, but it settled on being a rejiggered variation of its Predator predecessors. Anyone interested in my somewhat longer critique of Predators can check it out at my blog at this link:

Unknown said...

I am cautiously optimistic about seeing this one but didn't feel the need to rush out and see this in theaters like, say MACHETE, but I am curious to check it out and will probably do so via On Demand or DVD.

Will said...

I will limit my comments as I, myself, have written about it on my own site and on other sites endlessly and tire of it! But I will say that while the Alice Braga character was a great addition (showing women can beast it up like the fellas) I really HATED the part where she basically gives up during the dog-predator-chase-thingy and puts a gun to her head.

It seemed like the first sign of trouble she just kind of gave up. That bugged me. Adrien Brody would never have done that. Odd choice of character thinking to me.

Also, venom5 is the only person to enjoy AVP:R. In the world. ;) That film is excruciatingly insulting and should have been titled Alien vs. Predator: Deus Ex Machina.

I Like Horror Movies said...

Im actually with V on this one, I loved REQUIEM, and thought it was a great ride IF ONLY you could have seen more. I think I head that the film had become overexposed during production, so they were unable to correct the darkness in post.

Still havent seen PREDATORS so cant comment here, but if it is leading up to a bigger, badder, all out battle, Im alllllllllll in on both!

HorrO said...

I agree with you again. This wasn't the best Predator movie, but it wasn't bad. Very similar to the original. I did like seeing more Predators. I must have seen the preview 10 times before I noticed that it was Predator(s) and not Predator. The one thing that bothered me was how the Predators dropped the people to the planet. Couldn't they think of something a little more creative. I mean, with all those awesome weapons, and the best you can do is a parachute. Must have been a hard fall for that guy with the big and heavy gun.

Anonymous said...

I thought this film was absolutely terrible. Paint by numbers dialogue combined with a hokie 'surprise' ending. I think Rodriguez is capable of so much more. Overall, a complete dud for me.

Franco Macabro said...

@Venom5: Requiem is one of those movies that polarize audiences, Ive seen many love it, and many hate. Its one of those things, but Im gonna give it a re-watch just to make sure!

@Friz: Totally agree with you, it was a re-hash all the way! Except for the thing about the planet, and the two opposing Predators. All the stuff with Laurence Fishburnes character felt like filler, though he did do a lot of exposition.

@J.D.: I too waited for it to be on DVD, didn't rush to theaters to see it. I wasn't blown away by it, but it was entertaining. I liked seeing the different Predators.

@Will: Yeah, I liked that, putting the tough chick in there, able to protect herself. A strong female role for her.

@Another one for Requiem! See what I mean about polarizing! Have the commenters hate it, half love it.

@Horror: The thing with the dropping the charters on parachute to the planet I guess was done to start off the movie in an interesting, exciting manner, you gotta admit though it worked, I love that sequences where they are free falling, out of nowhere, you don't know why, but were free falling!

@Planet of Terror: We cant completely blame Rodriguez for the movie since he didn't direct it himself, I don't know how much he was involved in the actual filmmaking. But I would have loved for him to direct it himself, its been a while since we've seen another really good one from Rodriguez. Last one was Planet Terror. In my book any ways.

Cal said...

Ive been wanting to few a predator film for ages now and last night i managed to see Predator 2- what a pile of crap

i liked the whole jungle idea id seen in the trailers and to me predators seemed to capture the spirit of the orignal than 2, but having never seen either i can't realy pass judgement

Franco Macabro said...

Hey Youngblood: So you didn't enjoy Predator 2? I personally enjoy that one, its got good action in it, and the whole idea of having the city become the jungle the "concrete jungle" so to speak.

Plus the Predator displays many different types of weapons, and that whole fight through the city in the last frames, awesome. I personally dig it. I thought it was a good and different kind of sequel, not at all what one might have expected a Predator sequel to be like.

I also like the cast made up of Latino's and Blacks, Maria Conchita Alonso was great, as was Ruben Blades. And of course Danny Glover kicking ass, he aint Arnold, but he did alright in my book.

The first opening sequence is that explosive shoot out between the drug gang and the cops, that was a pretty exciting scene in my book.

Cal said...

I don't think there was anything wrong with the direction or acting or anything like that I think it was just more a question of taste- and predator 2 didn't suite mine

Franco Macabro said...

I hear ya youngblood!

HorrO said...

I agree the parachuting kicked off the movie well, and was exciting. My problem is that is just doesn't make sense to me. All those guys just drop from the sky with there weapons and everything. How did the guy with that heavy gun make it down alive? No parachute was slowing his fall down. Just think the Predators are a little too advanced for that.

Franco Macabro said...

Yup, thats a huge gaping loop hole right there HorrO, totally agree!


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