NOTE: You know that money shot in the trailer with Adrien Brody’s body being hit by countless Predator red beams? It’s not in the film. Shame on whomever slapped that in the trailer, I was waiting the whole flick for that shot…grrrr… not a HUGE deal, but it needed to be said.
This planet is a game reserve. And we're the game. – Royce
The original sci-fi, horror, macho action bonanza PREDATOR is one of my top films of all time, its gory as f*ck sequel PREDATOR 2 has grown on me with age (maybe because today’s movies are more often than none sub par and castrated hence it glows in comparison). AVP had some good ideas but didn't have enough pow-pow and it got tacky in its last block while AVP 2…well… less said about I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST PREDATOR the better. So it was with hopes cranked to COME ON DO IT RIGHT AGAIN ALREADY that I stalked in the theatre for the Robert Rodriguez produced PREDATORS. I craved a mature new entry in the PREDATOR franchise, jonesed for a flick that would capitalize on how great the Predator creature is and the potential that comes with it. And thankfully, before I could say “Bunch of slack-jawed faggots around here. This stuff will make you a god damned sexual Tyrannosaurus, just like me.” it’s pretty much what I got.
PREDATORS started off strong off, dropping its lead players and us into the Predators play pen, to then ably play a deadly game of cat and mouse with lots of guns. The original was obviously this one’s template and often source of inspiration (the winks were countless, right down to similar elements used differently and we even got a nifty verbal reference to PREDATOR). So in keeping in the spirit of the original, this bad boy gave us a group of tough dudes (and one dame) to truck around with. And although nowhere near the Gold Medal of badassness that was Arnie, Weathers, Ventura, Duke and Landham (very hard to beat), I warmed up to this new lot quickly. Personally, I really dug Alice Braga’s character; she was strong, sexy and totally credible. Oleg Taktarov brought the Arnold vibe to the game, Walton Goggins was armed with some mucho warped comic relief, Danny Trejo was Danny Trejo and I loved him for it and finally Adrian Brody once more proved that he’s one of the most interesting actors on the market right now. The dude went from Oscar winner, to lead in an Argento dud (Giallo) and now to bonafide macho action man. When I first heard of his casting, I wasn't sold, but the dude obviously hit the gym and ate a lot of eggs cause he got ripped! Tagged with his low key, always on top of things and cool as a hooker on ice demeanor, I totally bought him as the merc with the most and he was easily my favorite character.
The flick itself was somewhat of a slow burn, much like the original PREDATOR was. It set its stage and capably build on top of its initial premise, slapping obstacles the leads way while revealing more and more as the clock ticked forward Although I pretty much knew what was going throughout, I was still fanboy pleased by the revelations put out….for the most part…. more on that later. Moreover, I really dug the military heavy vibe of the film in terms of the tactics our protagonists took to survive the day, they felt very authentic. Then we had the actions scenes, which were tight when they went down, well choreographed and shot with lots of wides, hence we could actually SEE what was going on. Groovy!. Every time gunfire was brought, it was soothing music to my mothef*cking ears. YEEHAW! Visually, Antal capitalized on his striking locations with skills and he directed to serve the picture. I appreciated the lack of flash and quick cut editing here, there was maturity and class about how he handled the film. What about the effects you may ask? They were on the money 90% of the time. It's hard to go wrong with effects house KNB! The predator dog design and execution owned and the gore when splashed on the screen was handled via practical effects…thank Zeus below (or is it above, the f*ck I know where he lives)! Add to that a sweet score by John Debney who obviously took a lick from Silvestri's outstanding work on the 1987 original, a f*cking visceral show by Lawrence Fishburne who totally went against my expectations and back handed me and a couple of surprising plot turns along the way and you get a movie that’s not as good as the original but that managed to stand on its own tall and proud whilst giving much love to its forefather.
Which brings me to my peeves. First, I didn’t like the new Predators. They lacked physical grace (reminded of WWF wrestlers), their masks were too big and they just weren’t as cool as the sleek and agile Predator I’ve grown to love via Part 1 and even the younger creature in Part 2. Yes the former made an appearance (courtesy of new Jason Voorhees Derek Mears) but I didn't get enough of him, or enough of him doing sick shit for me to feel fulfilled. And where were all of the token Predator weapons? I so missed the flying disk... COME ON! You can't have a Predator movie without those. Furthermore, the affair lagged a tad during its middle section and sported one story beat that I didn’t care for. I won't give it away, but its "Predator race related". I thought that was too much, I didn’t need it. In my book the LESS said about a film’s villain the better it is in terms of keeping said villain scary and compelling. But that’s a personal qualm, who knows you may dig the angle they took. Some of the green screen work wasn’t all that and a bag of chips either, it didn’t take me out of the film, but I noticed. Finally, I though the Topher Grace character (whom I loved) was "unleashed" too late in the game, should’ve used him to his full capacity earlier on in my opinion. But hey, what the slut do I know?
Overall though, I enjoyed PREDATORS, yes it had flaws but after the two AVP films, at last, we got a Predator entry that DESERVES to stand alongside the amazing original and the better-than-people-say-it-is sequel. Wait a minute... you ghostin me motherf*ckers? Cause I don't care who you are back in the world, you give away my position one more time, I'll bleed ya, real quiet. Leave ya here. Got that? Sorry, I had to...:)