Thursday, July 15, 2010

PREDATORS - a true sequel!

When your studio has already made one of the most beloved sci-fi classics of all time and followed it up with a somewhat mediocre sequel - then over a decade later - joined their monster with an even more terrifying monster for two movies that didn’t hit the mark at the box-office; I’m sure that the right thing to do in order to keep the franchise alive is to make a new movie based on the elements of what made the original so great?

And that’s a good thing, because when you strip away the layers upon layers of homage [or rip off] from Predators, the original ideas here wouldn’t have supported it’s weight – the weight of something this frikkin' cool! It has an air of familiarity despite having the concept turned on it's head. The Pred's aren't coming to our world this time, they've grabbed some of us to bring to theirs, but it's still a jungle and the humans are still seemingly hopelessly outmatched and that's what makes it good - it's survival horror but with heavy weapons, an exploration of man's ultimate strengths, wits and fears!

The characters here are a far more diverse group then we've ever seen before. A mix of exceptional killers both criminals and professionals but all are different and unique in their own special way. They’re presumably abducted from Earth and sent to one of the Predators’ hunting planets, where they’re parachute dropped and fully armed with their own specialist weapons with which to provide their abductors with suitable sport. At first they must overcome their own considerable differences and learn to work as closely as a team as possible rather than give into their more base instincts to kill each other outright; literally a world apart from Major “Dutch” Shaffer and his close knit Spec Ops team of hard-core soldiers who would [and did] die for each other.

Adrien Brody [right] put on 25 pounds of muscle to prepare himself for the role of Royce, the central character who adopts the mantle of leader as he's a former U.S. military officer and thus the only type of person capable of doing that despite being an amoral asshole [but the best of us are ;)]. The strange group also consists of such equally heavily armed individuals as Spetsnaz soldier, Nikolai, (Oleg Taktarov), a Mexican Los Zetas drug cartel enforcer, Cuchillo, (Danny Trejo), and an IDF black ops sniper, Isabelle, (Alice Braga). They encounter more people dropped from the sky, including a RUF officer, Mombasa, (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali), who is fighting with a Death Row inmate, Stans, (Walton Goggins). A silent Yakuza assassin, Hanzo, (Louis Ozawa Changchien) and an American doctor, Edwin (Topher Grace) round out the group. They discover that all of them have no idea of how they got to the jungle and deciding that they should all stick together [helped by the fact that they all inexplicably speak English], they venture in one direction to find possible aid.

But they only find DEATH!!! - yes that's a spoiler sure, but only if you're a complete cretin. Predators sticks so rigidly to the formula of the original, it leaves not only little to surprise but presents total predictability as long as several minutes before the event - and I mean total. Story aside, thankfully the scope of the acting on behalf of the players is above standard for the subject matter, there is a genuine sense of "what the fuck am I doing here?" that lasts a lenghty time and the characters discuss their predicament at length with perhaps a little too much dialog at times. There is little comic relief [sadly no genre-defining pussy-jokes] which is a blessing since it's not right that this group of people should be endeared to us in this fashion. But that could be considered a problem as well as we don't feel the loss of any of this cast as we did Blain, Mac or Billy more than 20 years ago.

Iron Man 2 composer John Debney wrote to Predator composer Alan Silvestri as Producer Robert Rodriguez and Director Nimr√≥d Antal wanted Debney to use Silvestri’s Predator themes in Predators. Silvestri never got back to Debney much to his disappointment but Debney went ahead and recreated as much of Silvestri’s score as possible and thus it adds to the sheer adrenaline rush of the whole experience. Musically, Predators is a winner right up to the end credits where Little Richard’s "Long Tall Sally" has been grossly misplaced over the titles. While it was certainly fitting in a blacked out CIA chopper with a group of intence yet jovial Special Operators in Guatamala in ’87; is has absolutely no place here whatsoever.

The movie's flaws sadly hamstrings it from attaining anywhere near the status of the original. Having said that, few movies will ever top just how awesome Predator is [everyone reading this blog has seen Predator at least once so you know how awesome it is]. It's easily in the top 10 movies of the 80’s and in the top 50 movies of all time. I’m officially declaring Predators better than Predator 2, which despite having it’s moments, never captured the essence of the original [I actually gave my DVD away to someone]. Predators succeeds here in spades because it’s basically the first movie with a dose of weak crack, you'll get a high while watching it but that high won't last as long as the original's.

Final Verdict: Despite the unendearing characters, lack of plot and its bizarre predictibility; we have some incredible action sequences, superb acting and enough "essence" from the original transfused into this to make a solid cinematic experience. This is the true sequel we should have got much earlier, but better late than never. Bring on the sequels...

Colonel Creedon rating: ****


Former Grunt said...

What a great movie. Really took me back to the '80s and yes, yes, that is a good thing!! I was happy with the more realistic feel of this compared to the almost cartoon elements of the AvP franchise.

All the way through however, I kept wondering just how The Colonel would've handled the situation?

Dahar Master said...

Truely a good movie

Master Guns said...

"I kept wondering just how The Colonel would've handled the situation?"

I wondered that myself. How about this Colonel, what would you do?

Let's say you land on the planet with Victor Wyatt a skinhead Neo-Nazi from England, a black gang-banging rap artist called MTHRFKR from L.A., Albiabaiabarawish bin Hessan a high ranking Taliban officer, Jeffery T. Pascal a homosexual IRS man, Sgt. Henrique Covestas a Brazillian BOPE agent, Mohamed Ibrahim Ahmed a Somali warlord's deputy and Fr. Pat McGinty an Irish catholic priest.

Will you leave them all behind?

Major General Creedon said...

That's a no brainer - Of course I'd leave everyone behind!!! But why I would so so isthe interesting bit:

After landing and sizing up the situation, I'd shoot bin Hessan instantly as I'd be aware of who he is and I've standing orders to do so on sight. To be honest Ahmed would probably suffer the same fate. I know instanst death for the likes of those people is too good, but as I'm not in complete control of the situation, I have to be sure that all the pieces on the board are mine as quickly as possible before playing the game I don't know the rules of.

I'm sure Wyatt would most likely rebel against me soon enough due to the air of authority I obviously carry, or have a problem with the black dude or the gay and I'd be forced to snap his neck like a twig. Despite detesting all forms of rap music, I'd leave MTHRFKR live. Anyway, chances are he'd see me as "the man with the plan" and call me "big dog" or something and would intend to use me only to tun on me at the very end - unbeknownst to him however due to him being black he will be the first to be eaten so it makes no difference.

I'm confident Sgt. Covestas would automatically follow me like a good cop as in his country I'm a national hero as well [they call me "Salvador supremo de Brasil" in Portuguese]. Despite having U.S. flags on my uniform, Fr. Pat would stick with me upon recogniction of my accent because us Irish stick together and Pascal a man whose job caused so many to commit suicide - enough to draw the attention of our abductors, would follow me out of an overwhelming sexual attraction for me and do anything I ask him to [including walking ahead at 50 paces to set off any booby traps].

When we'd find the "original" Predator, I'd kill it immediatly - after all, it is "One ugly Motherfucker!" But as I would've done a proper recon of the place and so would have found the ship but then would need a live and co-operative Predator to activate it. I'd have also shot Larry Fishburne because he was wearing a Predator suit [a really dumb thing to be wearing in all honesty].

To cut a long story short, myself, Sgt. Covestas and Fr. Pat would survive after eliminating the first Predator. Covestas would sacrafise himself using a satchel charge to take out the second Predator and I'd get ready for a semi-naked mud fight with the final "Big Jaw" Predator. As I'd also be using the other two Predator heads as shoulder armour - this would break Big Jaw's morale and he'd surrender and activate the ship for me to return to Earth. I'd then put a bullet through his eye.

As myself and Fr. Pat would makee for the ship, I'd put a bullet through each of the priest's ankles, crippling him for the remainder of his life, which sadly wouldn't be too long on a hostile planet, soon to be repopulated with Lucas know's what. I think of a fitting end for him as I walk away up the ramp of the strange alien vessel as the roar of the thrusters drown out the man's agonizing slobberingring screaming. It's still the "easy way out" for a man who no doubt had to rape and murder so many children to get on the Predator's radar.

All in all a good days work :)

Master Guns said...

Great. So not only would you leave everyone behind [or get them killed], you'd be a hero for bringing back a fully working alien spacecraft.

I don't know why I bother anymore.

vaughan said...

Hang on of you look at Predators every single person on that planet is a ..scumbag....the only person who could be excused is the IDF Colonel what crimes have you commited to get the Predator's notice....prehaps the moment you gunned down my entire squad in that friendly fire "Incident" when you were "Testing" your "Testing" I mean Cackling insanely "What a magnificent weapon this is!"as you gunned them down!!! never forget...NEVAH!!

Civilian Overseer said...

Trust me Mr.V., You really don't want to know what the Colonel has done in service to his country, I know, I've seen the files.... shudder..., Let's just leave it at the Colonel is a bad man.

I will tell you this one thing, Bogeymen tell their children about the Colonel to get them to eat their greens.

I repeat he is a very bad man.

sith master said...

@ Vaughan:
"the only person who could be excused is the IDF sniper"
Oh no, she made her mistake, rejecting advances where she shouldn't have. She won't make that mistake again.