Jul 12 2010

Unreal Movie Review: Predators

Published by at 2:50 pm under Movies,Reviews

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I’ve had pretty high hopes for Predators ever since I read that Robert Rodriguez and Adrien Brody were involved.  After all, these guys are light years more talented and competent than, say, Paul WS Anderson and Steve Pasquale, right?  Predator remains one of my favorite action movies of all time, and although the sequel was decent, it seems that everything Predator-related over the past decade or so has been abysmally awful.  As it turns out, though, Predators is just fine.  It’s certainly not better than the original, but then again, it doesn’t try to be.  In fact, Predators serves much more as an homage than it does a sequel. (Minor spoilers ahead)

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When the movie begins, you’re immediately thrust into the action.  Royce (Adrien Brody) awakens to find himself in a free fall and having no idea how he somehow wound up thousands of miles about the ground.  Fortunately for him, he’s been fitted with a parachute that open automatically, and while his landing isn’t exactly smooth, he does manage to survive the fall.  Soon enough, more unlucky people drop from the sky – including a woman from the Israeli Defense Force, a cartel enforcer, various soldiers, a Yakuza member, and an deadly convict.  The only one who doesn’t seem to fit in with this motley crew of bad asses is a meek, cowardly doctor played by Topher Grace.  The group sets off through the jungle to find out where they are and, of course, why.  While the crew of humans certainly is formidable, there’s no comparison to the original cast of Predator.

Predators then, more or less, follows the formula of Predator.  The group of humans are picked off one at a time while they try to piece together just what’s hunting them.  Stumbling upon a bizarre alien structure, a live, tied-up predator, and a sky that’s filled with bizarre-looking planets lets the humans know that they’re no longer on Earth and in a sh*tload of trouble.

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The casting of Adrien Brody for Predators was met with some skepticism, but he manages to pull off the role of Royce, an ex-black ops soldier who currently earns a living as a mercenary.  His off-screen workout regimen certainly paid off, plus he’s got the acting chops to be convincing as a lethal alpha male.  I feel like the role of the female IDF soldier was written solely to have a female presence in this movie (can anyone write an all-male script without taking heat for it other than David Mamet?), but – and I really don’t want to sound chauvinistic -if you’re going to convince me that a woman can kick my ass, writing her as an IDF soldier is probably the best way to start.  After all, women are required to serve in the military in Israel, so kudos to writers Alex Litvak and Michael Finch for doing some research to make this character believable.  The rest of the cast is more or less interchangeable, save for Topher Grace’s doctor and Lawrence Fishburne’s schizophrenic survivor, Noland.

Of course, we don’t go to see Predators to watch a character study; we go for the action, gore, and somewhat secondarily, the story.  The story itself is pretty good, but not impressive enough to vault Predators into the same class as Predator.  Without giving too much away – and you probably already know this from the trailers – but the humans were all selected to be brought to this alien planet because they are the most dangerous people on Earth.  The planet isn’t the predators’ home planet; instead, the entire place is one huge game preserve.  The humans are the game, but so are other alien species brought in for the same purpose.  What’s cool – and what we haven’t really seen before – is that the predators use all the tools and technology they have to succeed in the hunt, including a deadly breed of alien dog that’s used the same way a goose hunter would use a Labrador Retriever.  What’s also cool is that the predators with which we are familiar from the Predator movies are game, too, as the predators hunting are bigger and meaner.  As Noland explains, it’s the difference between wolves and dogs.

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The action scenes are pretty good – gore is of no shortage – but probably nothing you haven’t already seen before.  There’s an interesting mano-y-mano showdown between the Yakuza and a predator, a direct homage to the Billy-predator showdown in the first film.  There’s all sorts of Easter eggs like that scattered throughout the film, and it’s somewhat refreshing to see a film respect its predecessor as much as Predators does.

Ultimately, Predators is entertaining and Adrien Brody helps us take the movie somewhat seriously.  There are times, however, where I was reminded of the Jeremy Piven dilemma in Entourage – he appears as a great actor because everyone else around him is so inept.  Still, there wasn’t really anything laughably bad (save for a few one-liners that only Arnold could have delivered effectively) and it was nice to see an original Predator story that didn’t totally neglect everything that happened in the original film.  In fact, it was the opposite.  Predators is a solid action movie, but far from anything new.

And oh, by the way – the scene in the trailer where Adrien Brody has like 50 of those three red dots aimed at him?  That’s not in the movie.  I hate when trailers do that.

3.5 out of 5 stars





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13 responses so far

  • floppytall

    I actually liked how the trailer faked you out with the 5.6 million laser sights on him. Can’t put my finger on why so I guess this post is pointless. Oh well, I’ve typed it now so you’re going to read it.

  • Zil

    Thank you for the review, I’ll watch it when it arrives on cinema :)

  • Zil

    also – as an ex IDF, most women would do office work at the IDF, there are some that are stationed at scary places (gaza, parts of jerusalem), but no women in the special forces or anything like that.

    Still, i’m wondering how she pulls the accent.. :)

  • James

    I was really disappointed in this movie. It has a decent premise and story line, but I felt it was ruined by the directors lack of vision.

    The cool Yakuza/Predator showdown was crap because it was shot fro 2 different camera angles and that’s it. Had no emotion or tension to the scene.

    Nimrod seemed happy as long as everything was in frame and seemed to not even attempt to make the movie look good.

    Also, acknowledging that there were other Predator movies before this one if fine, but Predators is 80% nods to the other movies.

    Just me rambling. I’m glad you were able to enjoy the movie and that you got more out of it than I did.

  • http://hbcupride.deco-printing.com hbcupride.deco-printing.com

    FINALLY!!!! An action movie review done by a man with chest hair! This movie was awesome!! I give it 4.5 “Manlygrunts” out of 5. It felt kinda like a reboot/homage. Wouldn’t it have been cool if they had an alien in their group? The Topher Grace thing caught me off guard. Great addition. I’m glad the Yakuza went out fighting unlike the African dude. Danny Trejo…that dude was born to die on film. Great, great movie.

  • Madison

    @ James

    I won’t say this movie doesn’t have it’s flaws. It seems that Nimrod did not know how to reveal anything new without first showing the cast looking wide-eyed in disbelief at whatever it was he had yet to show the audience. That kinda bugged me.

  • LawlessVictory

    Looks fun. Saving my movie money for Inception this month, but this is definitely on the Netflix queue.

  • cameron

    it’s not worth box office admission, maybe matinee if you’re hard up for an action movie, but not full price.

    1) they had every opportunity of immersing in a cool alien world as Avatar did: the ship, the flora, the wildlife. while they have a little of each, it’s not enuf. the panorama of the moons was terrific, but it was the high note among many bland scenes.

    2) i really like adrien brody. i don’t care if he can act or not, but damn, what’s with the christian bale voice? it doesn’t make a guy any tufer.

    3) there were quite a few shots of them walking around. the first movie could pull it off; the audience doesn’t know what to expect. here, it’s like those scenes in LOTR. sleepy time.

    it was almost Superman Returns to the original SuperMan movie. if you photocopied a ten dollar bill and turned it in for a movie ticket, no one should stop you.

  • Ellie

    YOU USED THE WRONG “THERE”!!!

  • http://unrealitymag.com Cal

    I really liked the film. Like Zil I was pretty pessimistic about the female role since the trailers had her saying “blackops” and to me that was just some ol’ BS. I thought they’d have her doing the Angelina Jolie type Skinny wrists McBigjugs can kick 250 pound guy’s asses type shit. But the character was very reserved and not over the top at all, matter of fact as a Sniper she was pretty believable.

    Also its the first movie in a while that gave me that good ol’ fashioned burly man action treat, with no sissy, sensitive crap sprinkled on top.

  • salads

    fucking AA12 noob

  • Pingback: Unreality - In a Bleak Summer Film Season, Predators is Actually Worthwhile |

  • og bobby j

    literally a disgrace to the original. If you think about this, you are trying to tell me a guy with a sword can beat a predator straigth up? A predator who crushed arnold and his badass crew. Every single predator made after the original was ass. I would be willing to say AVP should win an oscar comapred to this movie.

    We are at a point in this franchise, in my opinion, where batman was afte rthe mr freeze glow in the dark nonesense. Someone needs to batman begins this shit and soon….

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