Thursday May 25th 2017






Predators (SPOILER ALERT) – Movie Review

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I walked into the movie Predators today pumped and excited, awaiting something really great, but when I left I felt that the final victim of the Predators movie was my wallet (which I should have left in El Segundo). For those who choose to read further there will be a spoiler alert. If you choose not to read further, then I invite you come back and read this critique when you have seen the movie.

In the meantime, UPDATEcheck out our review on cool Predator weaponry collectibles and the awesome and highly detailed Classic Predator Skull and Super Predator Skull.

WARNING: SEVERE SPOILER ALERT BELOW:

This movie was not a prequel or a true sequel in the original sense. It references events in the first movie but not the second, which was strange since the second is where government operatives expected the Predator to show up from the debriefing in the first movie. So there is no sense of time as to what year on Earth the cast comes from though it is obviously after 1987.

LAST WARNING: MAJOR PLOTLINES BELOW:

The scenario starts off with an interesting twist. A succession of actors fall from the sky into a forest. We first see Adrien Brody, who attempts to play the typical “Leave me alone – I’m so smart and such a dangerous loner and I speak like Christian Bale’s Batman” (or maybe I just need a throat lozenge) tough guy. Next we see Danny Trejo who you might remember from the old Robert Rodriguez movie, Desperado and the Spy Kids series, and the upcoming “Machete” movie.

We quickly get introduced to the rest of the cast: a mad dog killer dressed in a stylish orange inmate collection from Prada, a Yakuza enforcer, a mysterious femme fatale, a soldier from Sierra Leone, a handful of others, and last but not least, Topher Grace (the lead guy from that 70s show and Venom in Spiderman 3), who plays a doctor. (Plot question: Predators have the ultimate in military weaponry and technology, but they send their training game in faulty parachutes?)

The plot proceeds with the ominous background musical score we heard from the Predator and Predator 2 movies of old. I had not felt any of the anticipation and the tension of the jungle scenery because we continually look through the Predator’s thermal gaze and hear their clicks in the distance and know what is about to happen. This where the movie started to get predictable in terms of formula for me.

We know three things: The protagonists are keeping secrets from each other and don’t trust one another from the “jump”. Second, we know they have to find out what brought them there and what is hunting them and attempt to survive, and thirdly, we know that the dynamic is about breakdown into panic and every man (and woman) for themselves. They figure out that they are pawns being hunted in a large game preserve, but when then they realize they aren’t even on Earth it was accepted all too quickly. Maybe I am just a normal guy, but if I was on an alien planet, killer or no killer, I think I would freak out a bit more.

Almost immediately after, the Predators send out their hunter dogs, which are impossible to kill from a distance, or at least not when you shoot continuously at them. It seems the way to kill them is with 1 bullet from a sniper rifle (yeah apparently just aiming does it – who would have guessed?). These “trained” killers from Earth waste all their ammo on these alien dogs and only kill them at close range. The typical – oh those bullets must not have enough force to hurt them from afar – argument quickly fades when they attack the convict character and he has no problem plunging a knife several times into one.

What surprised me was as I watched death after death of each character and the associated booby traps, none of it seemed to jar me. Maybe I am desensitized, but the movie didn’t make me care about them and they became disposable props. Ironically, I think it was Brody’s character that summarized the movie best when he said: “They want us to feel something for this man. To be human.” He’s right and unfortunately we didn’t feel a thing.

The scene where the “Yakuza” guy decides to stay behind and sacrifice himself to buy time for the others, then taking off his shirt and drawing his sword to wait for the Predator was a direct reference from the first film in which we see Sonny Landham – who played the Native American guy Billy – stay behind, take off his flak jacket, and draw a huge knife. I think the different play here was to try to give it that “old meets new” feel that went over so well in the Matrix (when Morpheous slices through a speeding car on the highway). The only problem is that in this movie, it failed miserably.

At a certain point in the film, I knew that both the lady and “Mr. Throat Lozenge” Brody were going to make it but I didn’t care. We’ve seen too much of the “were going to be the last ones standing” formula in so many movies. This is where I believe this Predator movie missed the mark, much like the Alien Vs Predator movies just before it.

Predator at its heart is a horror movie. It is supposed to make you jump out of your seat and dump your cola on your date’s lap. It is supposed to make the heart race. The only thing unexpected for me in the film was the several minute appearance of Laurence Fishburne, as a crazed survivor on the game preserve. It caught me off guard (as it did the characters themselves) that he laid a trap for them to asphyxiate them in buried hulk of an abandoned alien freighter to scavenge their ammo and equipment to survive. But then that begs the argument would you follow and trust a stranger who talks to himself and is the lone survivor of the last group left there? Plus you have to wonder how an insane scavenger who has been running on a hot planet for “7 seasons” manages to stay so stocky. I felt they missed a major opportunity to make his imaginary friend a real character (or perhaps a young predator) in invisible camo.

By the end of the movie my suspension of disbelief left the building ahead of me when I saw Adrien bludgeon the Predator by confusing its infrared sensors with fire and hitting it with a big stick, followed by chopping it down and decapitating it with an axe. This would seem nearly superhuman in light of Arnold (who can probably bench 10 Brodys even now) barely surviving being nuked in the first installment and Danny Glover getting a lucky stab on the Predator that almost killed him by the end of the second installment of the franchise. What’s even more remarkable is that this Predator was a new breed never seen before, that was supposedly even stronger than the original. (For some reason I was reminded of Shaun of the Dead: “If you get cornered, bash ’em in the head… that seems to work”.) Adrien was beaten and kicked in the face numerous times from an alien we have seen punch through walls and break through solid steel reinforced doors. My squint of skepticism began to deepen.

The next part is what clinched it for me as far as this movie was concerned. As a cardinal rule there has to be a pay off in the movie. The guy gets the girl and gets off the planet and they make it and live happily ever after. That is where the movie finally fails. They look up to see more parachutes and more survivors landing. The ship is gone and blown up and now they are looking to get off the rock and their destiny is uncertain. It ends to the credits of Little Richard singing as we heard in the chopper with Jesse Ventura, Arnold, and Carl Weathers and company flying in the original movie.

It is definitely a summer popcorn movie and it doesn’t apologize for what it brings to the table. But if you are looking for this to go back to the heights of its origins then you are going to be stuck on a game preserve with laser sights dotting your forehead.

Perhaps the DVD will have more to offer. In the meantime, if this was your first experience in the Predator genre, you should take a trip back to the original. Predator (and Predator 2) are on Blu-Ray now. Believe me when I say the original is not dated. The special effects hold even with today’s standards, the story was more acceptable, and it stars 2 future governors (Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jesse Ventura) decked out in full battle gear. The second part was a weaker attempt with Danny Glover as a Police Officer, yet still worth checking out to better understand some of the original mythology. The last two additions to the franchise were a mashup attempt with the sci-fi classic Aliens. The movies were called “Alien vs Predator” and “AVP Requiem” and were loosely based on a storyline that originally was kicked off in comic books years before. The films left a lot to be desired, but they still helped to add to the excitement that keeps this sci-fi classic rebooting.

For more information on Predator , Predator 2, Alien Vs. Predator, and AVP Requiem on Blu-Ray, click the images below to be taken to the Amazon product page where you can find reviews and ratings from other people who have seen them.

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One Comment for “Predators (SPOILER ALERT) – Movie Review”

  • Tom Stanley says:

    I was on Yahoo and found your blog. Read a few of your other posts. Good work. I am looking forward to reading more from you in the future.

    Tom Stanley


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