Twitter Plot Summary: A group of disaparate crims (and Topher Grace) are dumped on an alien planet and hunted. By Predators.
Director: Nimrod Antal
Key Cast: Adrien Brody, Laurence Fishburne, Danny Trejo, Topher Grace, Walter Goggins.
Five Point Summary:
1. “I’m Batman… I mean, er… Royce”
2. Hey look, Danny Trejo’s in…. oh, never mind.
3. Fat Morpheus.
4. The ‘iPod’ Predators have been watching The Passion of the Christ too much.
5. Adrien Brody’s nose is rather distracting…
The main review below was originally posted on www.randomstoat.com on 28 July 2010.
So, after seeing many films come and go at the cinema and not making the effort to actually go (with the exception of Iron Man), I finally made my way to the Apollo Cinema and watched the latest film about crab-faced alien hunters (and crab-faced is being polite, I could have said something much more unpleasant). In fairness, I have to say that I don’t think the film was too bad at all.
Looking back at the Predator films we’ve seen before, Predators fits nicely between an homage and sequel in its own right to the Schwarzenegger vehicle that kickstarted the franchise. Stylistically it’s nothing like Predator 2 (hunting Danny Glover in a hot and sweaty city environment? Really?), and the PG-13 near travesty that was Alien VS Predator. And as for Requiem… The Pred-Alien could have actually been quite good with the right script. Hey ho.
The plot of the film sees eight disparate characters literally dropped into a forest (with parachutes, obviously), and in true movie fashion they decide to stick together, safety in numbers and all that.
One thing I would like to see in movies like this is, literally, more fighting amongst the characters. In the original movie they were all members of the same unit, so a bit of obedience to the chain of command is expected. But in this case, they’re all from different nations and different armies, and each of the cardboard cutout stereotypes each has a unique weapon to distinguish them from the rest (except Topher Grace), so surely there’d be a lot more friction than there actually is? A bit of a scuffle when they first arrive and a little bit of verbal jousting throughout (and a bit of a fight early on between the prison convict and the African warlord chap). It’s all a bit too convenient in scripting terms. From this initial gathering we learn that they’ve all been dropped onto a Predator hunting reserve the size of a planet. There’s a nice build up of suspense for the first 30 minutes or so that teases the approach of the Predators and throws in the obligatory heat vision shots to establish what we’re dealing with. There’s a sequence early on that has the group attacked by Preda-Dogs. Some initial reviews claimed the CGI dogs were a bit of a letdown, but in my eyes the CGI was surprisingly competent. The lack of noticeable CGI throughout the rest of the film certainly helped – I don’t see why film makers today can’t just use practical effects if they can’t make CGI look good.
There was also a lot of preamble before the film was released about the fact we would see two types of Predator – the original design from the Arnie movie, and a new, sleeker, “iPod” style Predator for the modern day. Again, my scripting preference would have been a proper fight between the two styles of Predator, with our group of characters stuck in the middle, trying to escape from the planet. Elements of all of this showed up in the final film, but it feels as though they decided to play it safe instead. What we end up with is an entertaining film that just needed a small push in the right direction to make it an essential action movie.
The new Predators themselves are nicely designed, although it wasn’t immediately obvious to me that they were any different to the original, but this soon became apparent when our motley crew of killers and rapists (and Topher Grace) find an original design Predator being crucified, for want of a better term, at the Predator base camp.
Kudos to Laurence Fishburne for a suitably bat-crazy appearance as a survivor from a previous hunt. He makes his appearance just as the movie reaches an awkward lull in the action, so provides a nice distraction leading into the final third of the movie. I also thought the Yakuza character was surprisingly good despite only having about five lines of dialogue. Adrien Brody also stands out in an action hero role. He showed some of this promise in King Kong, and it’s a totally different role to what I saw of him in the frankly excellent The Piano. He’s doing a very good job of avoiding being typecast, and I have to say I think he does an excellent job here, even if he channels the spirit of Christian Bale’s Batman. It’s difficult to respect a character when all you want to do is give him a throat sweet.
Remember that shot in the trailer where twenty-odd Predator laser sights all appear on Adrien Brody’s chest? Well surprise surprise, but that money shot is not in the final film. Rodriguez even said after the fact that the shot was filmed solely for the trailer. It would have made for a much more entertaining film if it had been a planet full of Predators and not a paltry three (well, technically four). They could have easily made it look like a whole army of them, a la James Cameron’s Aliens.
There are a few other elements that I was less keen on. The dialogue is somewhat lacking and uninspired, but fits perfectly with the action tone of the movie (so really I shouldn’t complain), and there is a minor twist towards the end (I’m not going to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t watched the film yet), a twist that is mostly unnecessary. Again, a few tweaks to the script and it could have been fantastic instead of merely “good”.
If you’re into your action films and have enjoyed any of the previous Predator movies then, unlike the characters of this movie, you’ll be in your element here. If, on the other hand, you’re not a fan of science fiction or action movies, I have to ask… Why are you even reading this?
Favourite scene: Hanzo’s all too brief sword/katana fight with the Predator.
Quote: “All right you guys, I got to umm… I have to… you know… pee.” “Women pee, men piss.” “And what do you do?” “I unleash.”
Silly Moment: Adrien Brody doing the original Predator “mud camouflage” thing. Do something new, guy!