“GET TO THE CHOPPA!!” Ah, what a great movie Predator was. Made in 1987, and starring action man Arnold Schwarzenegger, it’s become a cult classic and hailed as one of the best monster flicks to have ever been released in cinemas. Despite receiving mixed reviews, it helped move the bodybuilder’s film career forward and made him into one of the best action stars out there. The sequel, however, was a different story, generally thought of as a big disappointment and leaving many fans thoroughly unhappy and throwing temper tantrums. Poor disgruntled fanboys!
And then there was Alien vs. Predator, a 2004 crossover with the Alien franchise. I won’t go into how monumentally hated this and its 2007 sequel were, cos it’ll take all day. Long story short: a lot. Because of all the negativity from the Predator sequel and the two horrid spin-offs, long-time fan, Robert Rodriguez, decided to produce another sequel, but this time ignoring the disappointments that were the other Predator movies.
I was excited for Predators; Rodriguez was very much hyping it up in interviews and online with featurettes on each of the characters. And after seeing the promising trailers I was expecting a well-made sci-fi action/horror and one that would do the original some justice, but I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed when the end credits finally popped up.
We start very abruptly. Royce (Adrien Brody) has just woken up to find that he is falling through the air, hurtling towards a swarm of trees. Luckily, his nose breaks his fall (actually, his parachute does) and he watches as others fall from the sky into the jungle beside him. Like him, they have no idea how they got there and the last thing they remember is seeing a bright light. Also like him, they have all killed someone. Good company then.
After wandering around the terrain for a little while, they discover that they are on another planet and have been kidnapped by a gang of cold-blooded Predators. They are part of an elaborate game where they will be hunted for sport by the alien pursuers, being chased through the jungle and desperately running for their lives, avoiding booby traps as they try to find a way back home. “We’re the game,” Royce says.
Rodriguez was clearly very passionate about this movie even though he is simply a producer. I think it’s fair to say that Predators is a film made for the fans, they’ve been waiting for a decent sequel since 1987 and this is what Rodriguez set out to do. Has he succeeded? He sort of has and he sort of hasn’t. The film contains many homages to the original, such as the famous machine gun firing scene and a mud-covered one-on-one topless end fight.
The fabulous music by John Debney is also very reminiscent of Alan Silvestri’s score for the original. It has an odd presence, magnificently striking in each scene it’s in. Personally, I adored it. However, Predators is still fairly flawed.
First off, when our protagonists all fall hundreds of feet into this unknown territory, this jungle, with no way of knowing what the hell is going on, they just seem to accept it. If that were me, I’d be shitting my pants and be suffering mass paranoia, not trusting anyone, whereas these characters seem familiar with the situation and just shrug it off. The extreme sense of confusion these characters would inevitably be undergoing is not convincing enough and I found it quite off-putting.
Also, I felt absolutely no connection or sympathy for any of our heroes for almost the entire movie. They’re not very likable or relatable people, they seem very cold-blooded and the fact that they’re all murderers doesn’t exactly help with this problem. We’re obviously meant to be rooting for the Adrien Brody character, Royce, yet the guy is just a bit of a dick. In fact, he’s a lot of a dick, he’s a guy who only cares about himself and it wasn’t until the end that I started actually liking him.
And of course, there are characters who, right from the second they blink or open their mouths, you can just tell are gonna be Predator poop by the end of the movie. So, what exactly is the point in giving a hoot about any of them when you fully well know they’re definite goners?
Then again, this is just a monster movie so these problems can be kinda overlooked. It’s nice to see the Predators back again, albeit the fact that some of the designs are a little different, which will no doubt get some fan’s panties in a twist. These are not the only hunters on this planet though, as there are also the Predators’ pets, dog-like creatures which attack the unfortunate group of cowering humans. They’re well-designed and the effects on them are rather wondrous, making for a suspenseful attack scene half an hour into the movie.
The dialogue has moments of greatness and excellence, then moments where it’s a bit crap, it’s pretty bipolar. The script is quite solid, filled with cheesy but catchy one-liners that I maybe smiled or chuckled at a little.
I didn’t really have any problems with the cast, everyone seemed to be on top-form. They’re all playing throw-away characters, but they do an admirable enough job with what they’re given. Alice Braga’s the only female of the group, playing the “girl who can kick ass” role and I found her performance to be fairly eye-catching. Rodriguez regular Danny Trejo is also in there as Cuchillo. You’ve gotta love this guy, he is such a mesmerizing and lovable actor, although I’d advise to not get too attached to his character.
Best performance though has to go to Laurence Fishburne, playing Noland, a disturbed survivor from a previously captured bunch. He explains the nature of the Predators and how there’s a violent feud going on between two of their species. Apparently this role was originally meant to go to Danny Glover, reprising his role from Predator 2, but I am glad he didn’t. I’ve never liked Glover all too much, and Fishburne just makes the role his own.
With a film of this genre, clichés are no doubt going to happen and Predators helms quite a few. You can anticipate some lame jump scares and see things coming a mile off, but it still has its fair shares of surprising points. The film has many twists and turns intertwined which held my interest enough.
Personally, I feel that Predators is a film that gets better as it goes along. For what it is, it’s not really that bad, it just could have been a heck of a lot better. It’s a good idea that’s just been executed in a mediocre way with strong predictability and unrelatable, unsympathetic characters. However, it’s nice to have the real Predators back on the big screen. They’re still ugly motherfuckers though.
Six outta ten.