“Does this look like a team orientated group of individuals to you?”
I’ve gone through three blogs and FOX has gone through three movies.
All three of my blogs have gotten better and better (well, at least the blogging software did) while FOX in six years blew two duds and managed to fire off a good shot.
Back in 2004 when all this started, after a lovely review of the Oscar caliber AVP (sorry my sarcasm keys locked up), I decided I needed something to cleanse my brain. And doodled this up:
The good news is, I don’t need to do this to Mister Antal.
Nope. The Wanted Poster can be shelved until the Alien Prequel arrives. Sorry, they said Alien Prequel and my geek bullshit detector goes off.
I can successfully say Mister Antal and Mister Rodriguez got it right.
The first thing is: It’s rated R. Congrats, Mister Antal, you have decipered the code, sir.
The second thing is: It’s puts us right back into the jungle. Sure, it’s Hawaii but at least it’s not LA.
The third thing is: John Debney’s soundtrack is near perfect clone (in a good clone way, not a bad clone way, a good clone way) to Alan Silvestri themes set up in Predator and Predator 2. It’s unfortunate that Mister Silvestri was busy scoring a dreck of a movie called The A-Team.
There are of course several themes that are repeated from the first movie: Jungle, alien hunter, have mini gun will travel, diving into water, Adrian Brody covered in mud…oh wait.
Predators starts off rather well with Adrian Brody asleep free falling through the air and after finally getting his chute open, lands in the jungle, soon after joined by Machete and Rodriguez staple, Danny Trejo. The deaths start quickly with one survivor not even making it due to his parachute not opening. Newbie screenwriters this pacing is a good thing, not a bad thing. Several other survivors soon follow including Alice Braga and Justified’s Walton Groggins. Each well armed and dangerous in their own right except for Topher Grace. At least, not yet. Topher is used awesomely in several scenes that got more than a few laughs with the movie going crowd I saw it with.
The tension between the characters hits a fever pitch when Adrian uses the group as bait just to see who or what they’re dealing with. The infighting and subsequent betrayal by one of their own was refreshing and harkened back to the original Alien when nobody liked each other. And, unfortunately, the lovely line in the trailer delivered by Mister Trejo about a team oriented group of people was cut.
One reviewer along with my dad once he saw the trailer makes mention of the novel The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell where humans are hunted for sport on a game preserve. Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of it, at this rate, Hollywood will remake in two years or less.
Soon, the entire cast learns that they’re on a hunting preserve when they come across Laurence Fishburne who has been in country just a shade too long and gives our cast the info dump. Many reviewers have said this is where the movie loses some steam but it’s nice to see the effect the constant hunting has on characters. Horror is not always with a knife, sometimes it’s with the mind, too.
I reminded of Pandorum when our plucky heroes are given their info dump by Eddie Rouse’s character Leland. The good news is, at least we can understand Fishburne, the bad news is Fishburne is no Ahnold or Sarah for that matter. If it had been Ahnold, cracked, crazy and bouncing off the walls then it would have been a nice throw back since the Dutch character was in the original Predators script.
But alas after scurrying their way out of Fishburne’s hideout, an alien drilling facility that’s a nice nod to Alien’s Nostromo the cast is whittled down bit by bit in interesting ways. We already know the Predator’s MO and they’re kept at a relative safe distance since there’s only so many times you can repaint a one trick pony.
The set up of Louis Ozawa Changchien’s character Hanzo (yes, I had to go to IMDB to find that nugget out) sword fight with a Predator was worth it. And, unlike Predator 2’s engraved pistol throw to Danny Glover, it was nice to see one of the characters actually explain something he/she may have knowledge of said sword.
Several new things don’t go over well with me: The CGI of the animals wasn’t so hot, it would have been nice to actually find out why the Predator was tied up by his fellow hunters and at the rate the Predator’s masks are growing by the time the sequel Predatorseseses arrives they’ll have created their own gravity well. Even the old design mask is too big only because the Predator latex mask is too big either because of the actors or the internal wiring that makes the mandibles move. Lastly, some camera angles just don’t work due to the insert CGI or post production cloak Predators here, the early firefight scenes weren’t that well choreographed and the set where the ambush and finale is set in looked really dull and cheap.
It’s nice to the original Predator design make a re-appearance, mostly due to a plot nugget from Fishburne says the small ones don’t like the big ones.
The ending does several things right, thankfully it does not re-hash the let’s arm the Predator wrist nuke and run. The fact that characters are willing to leave ones behind, even use traitors as grande bait is great.
The showdown plays to Adrian strengths when he goes mano a mano with a Predator. Yep, Adrian Brody. Yep. I know. A stiff wind could blow him over. But, he pulls it off. The good news is Alice’s character helping him isn’t like she’s a throwaway magic helper, her character was fleshed out enough to hold her own without being a damsel in distress.
The other thing it does right is it shows the fact that even after all the shit our plucky survivors endured went through it changed nothing and the hunting preserve is still open for business.
Hopefully, FOX will handle this franchise better than Alien…