Life through my myopic eyes.

Predators 2010: Get to the Spaceship…


Okay, so I decided to ring in the changes of the New Year by having a mini-movie-marathon. It all started with catching the still amazing Jurassic Park on television. That put me in the mood for movies I had not seen in a while. So I popped in Predators and the Blu-ray special edition of Battle Royale (Game ober). On a side note, I was on Battle Royale when the clock struck twelve so I paused it (a pretty painful thing to do, because I love that film) and watched my neighbour’s fireworks for about an hour.

Waking up today I wanted to talk about Predators and why, as a sequel, it disappointed me a little. I also wanted to say how I felt  about the film and the fact that nobody says, “Get to the spaceship!”

*just kidding about the spaceship part, although that would have been cool*

According to Wikipedia, Robert Rodriguez wrote the screenplay for Predators way back when he was doing Desperado. The article goes on to say that the studio was not impressed with the possible big budget that the film would require and passed. Fast forward to a time when Rodriguez is now damn near a “brand name” in Tinsel Town and he gets the green light.

Unfortunately, Rob decides not to direct the film (which in my opinion kills the movie right off the bat) and instead opts to produce it and hires Nimród Antal to direct the film.

Nimrod Antal, director.

Now it’s probably just me, but, I cannot for one minute take anyone seriously who has the name, “Nimrod.” Just cannot do it. When I was a teen, a nimrod was slang for an idiot. Phrases like: “Way to go, ya nimrod!” or “Jeeze, what a nimrod!” springs to mind every time I hear this guy’s name. Not an overly auspicious start there Robert.

I mean don’t get me wrong, Antal has proven himself to be a more than capable director. He helmed the very respectable (and damned good) Vacancy but one great little film does not a great director make. Now take into consideration that he’s only directed one other film since Predators and you’ll see that I am not alone in my feelings about Nimrod (and oh boy the urge to pun right there is killing me).

Still, let us take a look at the film over all. Starting with the cast, courtesy of IMDb:

Adrien Brody

Royce
Topher Grace

Edwin
Alice Braga

Isabelle
Walton Goggins

Stans
Oleg Taktarov

Nikolai
Laurence Fishburne

Noland
Danny Trejo

Cuchillo
Louis Ozawa Changchien

Hanzo
Mahershala Ali

Mombasa (as Mahershalalhashbaz Ali)

The first three names in the cast list are good solid actors who usually bring a lot to a role. Then further down the list you have the one, the only, Laurence Fishburne (in arguably the best role in the film) and good old Danny Trejo (a Rodriguez favourite). Everyone else on the cast list might not be in the same calibre as the first three actors and Mr Fishburne but they are pretty well-known and more than capable at their chosen craft.

On a side note, hasn’t Mahershala Ali bulked up a lot since his The 4400 days. The man has been putting in some serious overtime at his gym.

The shooting locations were in Hawaii, brilliant choice if I might be allowed to give my humble opinion, with the interiors shot in Rodriguez’s Texas studios (for tax reasons) so the film looked great in terms of location. *I do have to mention that some exterior scenes were shot in Texas as well, so apart from generating the rather alien Bush family, the state can produce some great “alien” looking scenery.*

The story is…functional. In a nutshell the plot is, people are air dropped into a jungle. The people, except for one unfortunate whose chute doesn’t open, are all killers who band together to find out where they are, why they are there, and how to get out. One of them (like the old Sesame Street Shtick, “One of these things is not like the other…”) does not apparently fit into to the little group of murderous professionals, Topher Grace is a doctor and, amazingly, no one questions why he is there. Just goes to show, you do not have to be deep to be a professional killer.

Brody’s character seems to be quite a few jumps ahead of his new colleagues and he figures out very quickly that they are on a “game preserve” and they are the “game.” And therein lies the problem with Predators, the applicable part of the prior statement is “very quickly.”

It’s all too “very quickly” in terms of everything. It is just too fast. Admittedly this makes a better sequel to the Schwarzenegger original than Predator 2, but only just. And only because the action takes place in the jungle with a lot of muscular men (and one woman) with loads of ammo and weapons. But the speed at which the film moves is almost dizzying and it definitely doesn’t allow any time at all for character development.

“Character development?” I hear you cry, it’s an action adventure science fiction film! What character development? I will almost accept that as a trade-off, of course the action and adventure and the science fiction should be first in a film like this, but not at the detriment to the characters portrayed. The original Predator had Schwarzenegger and a load of body building pals in it and they just managed to not be cardboard cut-outs in their roles, so why can’t Predators do the same.

It all revolves around the plot and the “feel” of the film. The original was a movie that started out as a straight forward action feature that suddenly and sharply took a left turn into science fiction land. It worked brilliantly and the pacing was spot on.

Predators never starts out as anything but a science fiction film. From the second that the parachute release mechanism on Brody’s chest starts to flash lights and make beeping noises, we know…it is the future; instant “sci fi” and no mistake about it. But hey, that’s not a problem. It’s still salvageable; they can still make that left turn up ahead, the one that will make this movie great instead of merely good.

Larry Fishburne, saviour as fruit-loop…

But they missed the turn off and instead of veering off into a fascinating new direction, we are given a crazy survivor scene with a plot twist of the predators actually being two species instead of one and they don’t get along. So now we have Larry Fishburne knocking it out of the park as the nutty-as-a-fruitcake survivor who talks to folks who aren’t there and is as deadly as the predators and a great plot device to help our “heroes” get out of Dodge alive.

This all leads into a “twist” to the story that was not a twist at all. It also leads into a “touching moment” and an almost Schwarzenegger ending.

There are a few nods and winks to the original, there is a Hispanic female character, a mini-gun and a “boar like” creature (or more) and it’s set in a jungle. Pretty cool, but it just doesn’t have the panache to make it fun.

Now don’t get me wrong, I do like this film. So much so that I own a DVD of it and still drag it out occasionally to watch. But I don’t love it. If I did, I would own a Blu-ray copy of the film and watch it a lot. Each time I put the film on and watch it, I think the same two things; what if Rodriguez had directed it and I really want someone to say, “Get to the spaceship!”

Some of the main cast plus director and producer.

Tagged as: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Categorised in: Action, Adventure Film, Film Reviews, Films, Science Fiction Film

22 Responses »

  1. Great review. I feel pretty much the same way about it. Not a bad flick, but lacks character. Having different predators was good, and the Yakuza guy ruled.

  2. We took a break from what has essentially been a two-week long movie marathon mixing every Christmas movie ever made since talkies were invented, to our last movie of 2012, “Hot Shots Deux” which, while hardly in the list of top anything movies, is a movie buffs buffet since they parody dozens of movies and even after watching it many times, there are still references, visual and verbal that we can’t quite pin down (it’s like a gigantic, hilarious trivia test). That’s pretty much how we always celebrate the holidays, with interruptions for eating, opening gifts and personal hygiene. And of course playing tug o’ war with a dog or three. We did pause to watch the ball drop in Times Square … we’ve been doing that for 24 years together … and the fireworks over Boston Harbor (once, we actually went and watched them from a very pricey restaurant by the water, but that was long ago and far away). Happy New Year, my friend. You had a Hell of a year past and I send you a ton of positive good wishes that this one coming up is better, healthier, and far less eventful. We could all use a nice stretch of time without a crisis! Hugs and best of wishes from snowy New England.

  3. I liked this film, but like you I was left feeling disappointed. Maybe it was because there was never a scene where a couple of Predators didn’t use Topher Grace to re-enact the scenes in The Shawshank Redemption between Andy and the ‘sisters.’ :) That would give Eric from That ’70′s Show something to whine about. :)

  4. I quite enjoyed this film, but I think you have to seperate it from the original. There is no way you are going to come close to a good enough sequel for that master piece :)

  5. It’s not bad but its not good, i’d give it a 50% I know my predator films :D

  6. Spot on review mate. I never considered how fast things moved in this film until you brought it up, characters are too smart and come to terms with things a little to fast. Annoyingly there are things I enjoy about the film from the references to the original to the jungle setting and the yakuza fight in the grassy area. However this can’t make up for all of the other glaring issues like the overuse of CGI, lack of suspense and mystery, then there’s stupid Topher Grace nuff said. I can’t watch this film too often, I like it more than Predator 2, and so much more than AVP 1 & 2, but it doesn’t even comes close to the awesome macho original!

  7. Good review. I think I liked it a little better than you, though. I actually liked it a lot, probably mostly b/c of Adrien Brody, who I think is one of the greatest actors in Hollywood at the moment. He plays such a wide range of characters and takes on films from almost any genre. I also liked Topher Grace in this, and his line that should be a movie quote classic, “Yep. 5 o’clock…bitch-raping time.” lol.

    • I do like Topher Grace and his part in the film was great. It has taken me a long time to get used to Brody and he has finally fallen into that category of favourites, but, he will never the kind of actor that I go to see a film for, unlike say Michael Shannon. But Brody definitely sells his characters. :-D

  8. I enjoyed this one. You’re right about Robert Rodriguez – if he’d directed this film it could have been even better but it is still an engaging action film.

  9. Nice review! Not a perfect film, but it was still highly entertaining.

  10. I had a great time watching this movie.I was hoping there is a part two of the surviving cast plus new ones. As for Jurassic Park…it’s my all time favorite. I can still remember my awe and excitement as it unfolds on the big screen. Made me feel like a little kid again. Wonderful review.

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