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“Predators” (Theatrical Release - 2010)
Wayne Klein
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Genre: Action Release: 7/16/2010
Cast: Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, Alice Braga, Walton Goggins, Danny Trejo and Lawrence Fisburne
Nimrod Antal

Rebooting a dying franchise can be tough but producer Robert Rodriguez jumps right in with “Predators” a sequel to the first two movies in the franchise and if the film doesn’t come in for a soft landing it is at least diverting in the same way as the B movies that Rodriguez loves so dearly. Director Nimrod Antal and neophyte writers Alex Litvak & Michael Finch ignore the last two films which pitted the Predator creatures against Alien in a silly franchise extension that reminds me of the desperation of Universal at the end of its monster movie cycle in the 1940’s. But the trio make their own fair share of mistakes particularly writers Litvak and Finch some of which are an example of downright sloppy screenwriting. Luckily, they have a good cast to keep this inconsistent but entertaining movie from crashing. **

Eight people (Adrian Brody, Alice Braga, Topher Grace, Walton Goffins, Danny Trejo, Oleg Taktarov, Louis Ozawa Changchien and Mahershalalhashbaz Ali)all awaken in free fall with parachutes that automatically activate themselves at the last minute putting them down in the middle of a jungle. None of them have ever met but they all seem to have one thing in common; they’re all soldiers, prisoners or criminals except for one odd man out—a doctor—and all remember nothing about how they arrived. It quickly becomes apparent to Royce (Brody) a mercenary soldier that they are in some sort of game preserve and are being hunted. He’s determined though to turn the tables and become the hunter whether or not the rest of the group want to follow his lead or not. ***

“Predators” wears its B-movie pedigree proudly on its shoulder and that, aside from the cast, is one of the few things that makes the film distinctive. Producer Rodriguez elected to go back to the beginning and tell us a bit more about the creatures that we first met in “Predator” and “Preadtor 2” over 20 years ago. In fact Rodriguez and director Antal want to recall the seminal original film so badly that they hired composer John Debney to come up with a score that echoes the original one by Alan Silivestri. ***

For those wondering why Brody would be in something like this, the actor seems to want to continue to broaden his range to include action hero after his turn in “King Kong”. The Oscar winning actor does a nice job in the lead role of Royce. Why is the rest of the cast slumming in a movie like this? For the fun of it no doubt as “Predator” even though it is predictable and brings little new to the table IS fun. There are a few new creatures introduced but as Roger Ebert so ably pointed out they are a perfect example of the “design is cool but impractical” approach to filmmaking—these creatures which are designed to echo the warthog from the first film and but embody the dogs typically used to flush out pretty when hunting defy all logic as to how they can eat much less reproduce with all of those nasty spines on their tails. What Roger misses is the fact that this is part and parcel of ANY B-movie suspense flick (I wouldn’t call this science fiction because the film just uses the science fiction genre as window dressing)which Antal has become an expert at directing.

Final Words:

While “Predators” is enjoyable as a low budget thriller (it was shot for around $40 million making this a bargain even if it doesn’t do well at the box office), it lacks the innovative approach that director John McTiernan and lacks the quirky humor that made the original film so memorable. While not as bad as the last two outings in the franchise, “Predators” fails to live up to the standard necessary to jump start and make this series interesting. Although there are a few good ideas in the script (such as the use of the game preserve and the introduction of characters, etc.) the writers use a number of lazy conventions to as cinematic short hand to try and relay the plot points from the first film. “Predators” is like those late period Universal monster sequels or Hammer films—they take the basic premise, throw just enough new ideas into the mix to make it seem less familiar without creating something memorable. Like the generic jungle set “Predators” has a paint-by-numbers feeling after the first fifteen minutes of the film and throws away its one great idea (SPOILER: Someone survived the previous hunts and struggles to stay alive while also hunting the creatures)in a subplot that adds little to the final film.


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