Sunday, July 18, 2010

Movie Review: Predators


Manages to hang with the original

Produced by Robert Rodriguez

Directed by Nimrod Antal

Starring Adrien Brody, Laurence Fishburne

Rated R

Predators is the spiritual - and some would say only canon - successor to the well-liked original movie, which starred Arnold Schwarznegger. Yes, there was a Predator 2 somewhere along the line, and it was decent, but this movie arguably takes its place in the lineage. And don't worry about those Alien Versus Predator movies, as this one ignores them entirely. The creators of this movie specifically said that the goal here was to have this movie be to Predator what Aliens was to Alien: a follow-up with new, badder, and more numerous variations of the foe. In that sense, I think they succeeded.

This movie mainly centers around Royce (Adrien Brody), a stoic yet charismatic soldier with an unknown past. After blacking out on a mission, he awakens to find himself parachuting into a jungle at high speed. The movie literally opens with this scene; in effect, the viewers themselves are parachuting into the unknown right there with him. He is soon joined by a host of other trained killers from different parts of Earth, all of whom blacked out and awakened in the same situation as Royce. You have a beefy Russian with a minigun; a Yakuza assassin; a death-squadder from Sierra Leone; and so forth.

Once this rag-tag "team" is assembled, they begin to wander the mysterious jungle they were dropped into, discover that this place isn't even Earth at all, and things progress from there. It is interesting to note the differences in dynamics between this "team" and the one from the original Predator. In that movie, the team is a cohesive unit that has fought together on many occasions. Most of the guys are inherently like-able, as well. None of these are the case with Predators. In the new movie, we have a bunch of people who have never met each other and have little camaraderie; also, some of them aren't all that like-able. The movie makes sure to let us know just how treacherous and shady some of these characters are. Basically, a lot of them are the monsters of Earth, brought to this strange jungle simply because of how dangerous they are.

Looking at the cast of characters in this movie - with their shady pasts and skill at killing - you may find yourself wondering if the title of the movie is referring to the bad guys, or the good guys. All of this said...most of them redeem themselves before it's over, which is a commendable turn for the movie to take.

This would be a good moment to talk about Noland (Lawrence Fishburne). Some people may sing his praises, but I felt like this character was a waste. A waste of a good actor and a waste of a tremendously cool idea for a character. When he first debuts onscreen, it is a great moment. From that moment on, however, the character doesn't particularly do anything else except eat up screen time. I can't help but feel like Noland only exists to give Matrix fans a shoutout - especially considering he has a katana in his inventory. Lawrence Fishburne deserved better from this role.

The climactic shot from the trailer...which is very different in the final movie

The primary antagonists of this movie are three new "super Predators" - a "falconer", a "beastmaster", and lastly, the black-armored leader of the group. In one of the film's more interesting scenes, we find out that these three are to regular Predators as wolves are to dogs. They're bigger, stronger, and a higher social class.

There are a number of good fight scenes in this movie, such as the Predator-Predator battle and the Yakuza-Predator battle; the latter is easily the highlight of the entire movie and one of the more intense things you'll see at the cinema this year. However, for the most part, the battles are a bit on the disjointed side and it's sometimes hard to tell just what is going on.

The special effects are hit-or-miss here. The animatronics are great, while the CGI is out of place at best and fake-looking at worst. This is yet another example of why animatronics are often superior to CGI in movies like this and should never be fully replaced. One instance of CGI in particular, an explosion later in the movie, resulted in fire that didn't look real at all. Things like this definitely take you out of the moment.

Predators is gory, very gory. There's plenty of cursing, especially early on in the movie when the heroes communicate primarily via f-words. Indeed, it earns that R rating. Most importantly, Predators serves a particularly notable purpose this movie season: to help moviegoers wash the inherent lame of Twilight: Eclipse off... with gushing fountains of blood. If I may go on a momentary tangent... if the opposing Teams that Twilight fans speak of are in regards to who they think Bella should have babies with, well, then I'm going to start Team Hermione. To which Harry Potter fans will angrily reply "But that isn't even logically possible, because they exist in separate universes! And Hermione ISN'T GAY!" while adjusting their duct-taped glasses and hurrying to their LARP.

Disclaimer: I like Harry Potter. Also, I wrote this while wearing duct-taped glasses and hurrying to my LARP.

In closing, Predators is a worthy successor to the original. At times I actually found myself liking it more. Overall, though, there are a number of unnecessary problems that bring it down a bit. It's definitely a worthy movie to see this Summer, nonetheless, and manages to leave a strong impression. Out of five stars, I give it...


  1. They could make another movie where Twilight fans are the ones dumped into the forest of Predators.

    1. Let's put Bieber fangirls down there too. Pretty sure all these people would get killed by randoms animals before even one predator gets to them.

  2. The problem with that is, the movie would be like five minutes long.