Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Review: Predators

Non Spoiler Review:
Predators is the latest take on the sci-fi franchise, brought to you by Robert Rodriguez (Grindhouse). Starring Adrian Brody (who is surprisingly super buff these days) and Alice Braga (the girl from I Am Legend), the movie jumps right into the action with all the characters awaking in freefall over an unknown jungle, their parachutes opening at the last minute and leaving a stunned crew to assemble and get their bearings.

All the characters have some particular talent to contribute to the group (Brody being a mercenary, Braga as a special ops soldier and Topher Grace as a doctor with a fortunate knowledge of poisonous plants and toxins). The rest of the cast is an eclectic assortment of global badasses—Spetsnaz, Yakuza, Mexican drug cartel, death row murderer, etc. It’s not too long before they realize they’ve been assembled for their particular talents, and...something in the!

Predators is a very good sequel to the original. I had initially thought this movie was a reboot, but was pleased with the reference to the 1980s Guatamala incident noted by one of the characters. We also get several additional homages to the original.

All the characters are good types for this movie, and no one really does anything illogical or crazy that flies in the face of the situation. They are true to their respective military/psychopath/mercenary natures, and aside from the non-military types in the group, are very good planners and hunters themselves–the monsters of their world as one character notes.

The Predators vs Aliens movies are blessedly not referenced (at least from what I could tell). Though I swear I saw an Alien skeleton at one point. The Predator mythology gets some interesting additions, and there is new tech and gear to be had.

My only quibble was the somewhat predictable ending. There was a point when it looked like the story was going to climax in a radically darker direction, but ultimately did not. That being said, the ending was satisfying (for a Predator film).

I highly recommend it if you’re a fan of the franchise and enjoy a good, old-fashioned sci-fi action movie (and by old-fashioned, I realize there was blessedly little overt CGI stuff in there).

Spoilers Now!
I really don’t have anything negative to say about the movie, as it met my expectations. Its nice to see something decent out of this franchise again.

The cast fatality count wasn’t too surprising as far as who was getting picked off, just in what order.

The addition of a bigger, badder Predator species that was in conflict with the original ones was a nice new take on the mythology.

I will admit to figuring out Topher Grace was a psychopathic serial killer type earlier on (I mean, no overt weapons or physical prowess, but an amenable, joking demeanour—that screams psychopath). He seemed to know a little too much about neurotoxins and was the only innocent of the group that was always being used as bait—the everyman to garner the audience sympathy.

I was questioning Adrian Brody’s rational when he was planning on getting the Predator to fly him back to Earth. That just seemed so outrageous the movie would have lost me if that had actually happened. Whether he actually intended that, or was already planning on his decoy ploy, it worked out nicely at the end. But, the darker ending I'd have loved to see was Brody abandoning them AND killed in the ship explosion, with the doctor as the lone survivor of the group after killing Isabel. THAT would have been ballsy, but probably would not have been an audience favorite (except for me).

There were a few clichés they relied on in this movie, particularly the crazy old-timer cliché (Laurence Fishburne), who has somehow managed to survive ten hunting seasons despite being insane. Of course, when the new group shows up, somehow his happy life of seclusion goes immediately in the toilet as the Predator finds him and kills him RIGHT AWAY. Note to all survivalists: Do not help anyone.

So, if you happened to see the trailer where Adrian Brody is marked by like a dozen laser sights…that wasn’t in the movie! He gets targeted by one! Marketing bastards!

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