Monday, November 25, 2013

Predators


  I'm fairly sure if you dig hard enough you can find my original review of Predators on here. Came out in 2010, which was the second year I was running my blog. It was theater-fresh. Meaning I probably wrote it the same night I came back from seeing it on the big screen. I myself am too lazy to go back and re-read it, partly because I just don't want to and partially because I remember what I said. It was a positively glowing review. I recommended it to fans and newcomers, and I said it was the best Predator flick since the original. However, rewatching pretty much every Predator movie several times over the span of the almost four years since this movie's release...
I can safely say my opinion of it, and of the franchise in general, have evolved.

  After the lukewarm reception of Aliens vs. Predator, and the abysmal reception of Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, people were of a like mind with the makers of this movie: take it back to what works. They did this fairly well. They brought the hunt back to a tropical setting, they gave us fun and interesting characters to watch, and it was indeed rated R. Yay! I do really like this movie. I consider it to be a good movie. There's no mistaking that. Fans loved it, people liked it. However I felt I've been long overdue to voice my updated opinions about this movie. It has been called a 'breath of fresh air' for the Predator franchise. I disagree to an extent. If we're going to use the air analogy, then we're going to like AVP, and AVP:R (leave Predator 2 out of this...) to rancid air. Nasty, yucky, cartoonishly green air. So, then comes Predators. It's a breath of normal smoggy, polluted air. Sure! It's a damn sight better than breathing in the hurk-worthy fumes of AVP:R, (I didn't think AVP was awful, but it's sequel sure was) but that couldn't be that hard to do. Any breath of air would seem preferable right? That's where I believe opinions got skewed with this movie.

  I say this because there is nothing to get excited about with Predators. It's not fresh. It's far from fresh. The filmmakers obviously didn't want to do anything too radical and end up alienating the fans, but they also needed something. So they came up with this spin on the story. There's another clan of bigger predators (to be nice, lets ignore the fact the actors behind the dreadlocks in this movie are the shortest to ever don the outfits...) called "Black Super Predators" (though they're never directly referred to in the movie by this title, thank god) that apparently hunt not only the human prey, but they're total murderous dicks to the smaller predators as well. Geez. Why don't I like this? Because it has -no- bearing on the story. The last act is structured around this, and it seems flimsy. It gets worse in my opinion. Bear with me. It's a cheap plot device, or whatever you want to call it. Whenever sequels run out of creativity, all they do is bring the villain back- bigger and badder. Which is all these black super predators are, a purposeless sequel ploy.

  They ugly as hell too. Not scarier. Uglier... as in "Ew, who approved these designs?".  Ironically, the best thing about the worst Predator movies, is the predator himself. Usually, he's a well-designed badass, who despite being stuck in a shitty movie, manages to kick lots of ass. These predators have fewer cool gadgets, their fundamental tech and weaponry have been redesigned in a strange way. I don't much care for any of it. This is akin to James Cameron removing the dome on the aliens heads for Aliens. It ended up being canon. The domed ones are drone aliens, and the others are warrior aliens. (Cue eye roll) Whatever. He did it because he thought it looked cool (I've always hated it) not because he was enriching the mythos. However, the makers of this movie weren't content with just making it a design choice. It's a whole new breed of predators. Why is this pointed out? I don't know. It has the most tenuous relevance ever. Normal predators have killed plenty of humans just fine, why did we need "super" predators? It even sounds silly. Why? Because it fucking is.

  I didn't like that aspect of the movie when I saw it, but it took me several repeat viewings to articulate this.  You could call it a fanboy gripe if you want, but it's also a cheap move that is entirely devoid of use, meaning, or even purpose. I call that lame moviemaking. I don't know where this concept came in. If it was on the art level, or the writing level, or what. I wanna say it was producer Robert Rodriguez, but I'm not sure. Fortunately, in the movie's defense they do indeed avoid the most common pitfalls of the franchise that started way back in 1990. The characters in Predators may not be the most fully realized ever, but they're still by far the most fun to watch since Dutch's crew in the original Predator. I love the characters in this movie, probably way more than I should. Walton Goggins, Topher Grace, Adrien Brody, Alice Braga, and the rest of the cast. They all have great chemistry, and surprisingly Brody pulls off the whole Rambo-esque badass character thing quite well! Surprising, but welcome. This movie may have been lacking the star power of 80's action paragon, Arnold Schwarzenegger, but they had quite the roundup of badasses here.

  I'm fairly certain Adrien Brody doesn't come to mind when one is thinking of action stars, but I'd love to see him in a sequel to Predators which I hope happens. Predators may not be amazing, but it was good. All around just good. Not great, not oh my god this is awesome. Just good. Better than what we'd been getting for over a decade. So I accept Predators. It's definitely a throwback, and it works. This movie also works, because it seems to know how to deliver a good time. It's aware that there is no longer any real suspense about what the hunters are, they're predators. Everyone knows. They know the lines too. So they changed up the setting, and made it much more of a straightforward action movie. There's not a lot of suspense or terror in this one. Just lots of shooting, falling, yelling, and running. It really proves why the original is greater, but there's also nothing overly bad about this streamlined approach. It's fun and it doesn't rape the Predator mythos. At this point? That's good enough for me.

There's more to be said about Predators, there are some awkward plot points, a complete waste of a perfectly good Laurence Fishburne, and some other minor gripes as well as some completely unspoken praises. Unfortunately, I don't feel compelled to dissect the entire movie this time. It is a good movie, and I'll reiterate that as much as I need to, but I don't like it as much as I once did. It is however a step in the right direction, and for that (as well as that kick ass climax) I am eternally grateful.

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