Predators Movie Review
The 80's continue to attempt a comeback in 2010 with the release of Predators, a throwback to the original film in the franchise. In this new version, Adrien Brody replaces Arnold Schwarzenegger as the badass muscleman (who saw that coming?), one of several commandos abducted from Earth and thrown together on an alien planet that Predators use as hunting ground.
Predators literally begins with Brody freefalling from high above the planet's surface. His chute opens at the last second. He quickly encounters several other armed killers - oh, and innocent Topher Grace - and they band together to find out who kidnapped them and, more importantly, how do they get back home. Unfortunately, as they soon discover, they are at the mercy of three Predator aliens who are physically and technically more advanced.
Having just watched the original Predator on Blu-Ray a few days earlier (it stands up extremely well even after all these years), I was pleased to see that director Nimrod Antal treats this new film both like a legitimate sequel and a quasi-reboot of the franchise. Returning the setting to the jungle was the right move; Predators looks and feels like the original, and the emotions it evokes pay dividends. The movie is incredibly intense and exciting for quite a while.
Unfortunately, Predators begins to stumble halfway through. Once Laurence Fishburne's crazed character is introduced, Antal temporarily takes the characters away from the jungle setting. The movie screeches to a halt, Fishburne subjects us to an embarrassingly bad performance and Predators begins to feel just like any other movie. By the time Antal returns to the jungle, Predators has lost the momentum established earlier.
The screenplay doesn't help. Written by Alex Litvak and Michael Finch, Predators suffers from cheesy dialogue and a lot of one-liners; Brody is particularly predictable with his words. Beyond the dialogue, the movie takes one really weird twist at the end that is neither expected nor wanted.
The biggest problem with Predators, though, is that the movie has multiple Predators. What made the original film a classic is that as the movie progresses, it slowly shifts into a one-on-one battle between Arnold and the alien. We get to see Arnold's slow realization that he can indeed defeat the creature, his preparation and planning, and his attack. Simple, but effective.
In Predators, Antal glosses over the realization and preparation part. Brody's character never once shows fear or uncertainty, which is pretty confounding considering he's stranded on an alien planet. His overconfidence is cheesy and unbelievable. And when he finally gets around to covering himself in mud like Arnold did several decades earlier, Antal just shows it; there's no setup to the climax or any indication that Brody has a plan.
But back to the multiple Predators. The original worked well because the Predator was so mysterious and seemingly unstoppable. A whole team of commandos could barely take down one. In Predators, Antal introduces us to a new breed of the aliens - a higher, more powerful class that's supposed to be more intimidating - but because there's three, you know all three have to be killed by the end of the movie. As a result, the Predators are less intimidating because they aren't that hard to kill; the first gets killed by explosion, the second by - wait for it - samurai sword. It also doesn't help that the new Predators don't look nearly as good as the Predator from the original movie.
Still, despite its flaws, Predators is a significant improvement over the AVP movies that have been released earlier this century and an enjoyable entry in the franchise. It has plenty of action and gore, and worthy of a sequel.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.