Predators Movie Review

Fun: 7
Action: 8
Drama: 4
SF: 6
Fantasy: 4
Sex: 5
Violence: 9
Effects: 7
Other: 7* – see review below

Scores range from 1 (kill me before I see it) to 10 (defining movie of this element). I saw this movie on the regular flat screen with a good friend, late at night.

Overall: A worthy sequel to the 1987 surprise hit movie. Good script, intelligently directed, with talented actors who looked like they really got to sink their teeth into their parts. Best of all, it ignores the regurgitated pea soup Hollywood put out with those moronic AvP crossovers.

They could have easily cut the number of humans in this film to give us more story, rather than having to do exposition on the extra trophies… I mean, characters. I think this movie suffered from the “too many characters” problem that action-adventure films frequently have.

(Fun: How much did I enjoy the movie?
Action: How much engaging action?
Drama: How much did the drama “get” me?
SF: How did this rate as science fiction?
Fantasy: How did this rate as fantasy?
Sex: How much sex was there in the movie?
Effects: How were the special effects?
Other: How did any other parts of the movie, such as the Moral Of The Story, work?)

SPOILERS!!!! DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE


I MEAN IT. SPOILERS BELOW.

I’m trying to avoid major plot spoilers, however some are unavoidable. So I’m going to deliberately avoid certain plot twists so that if you read this review, you can still get some enjoyment out of the film.

Predators is pretty good – definitely worth seeing. If you have seen the 1987 film, Predator, with Arnold Schwarzenegger, you already know the plot and the main antagonists. It is an action-adventure, survival (lifeboat) flick. The real gems are the human characters – especially Adrien Brody’s and Laurence Fishburne’s – and the twists they gave the Predators.

Fun: 7

I was a little disappointed here. There was only one memorable one-liner: “Please. Stop. Doing. That.” Yes, you have to see it to get the effect.

As opposed to the original’s many, not least of which are “I ain’t got time to bleed,” and “You are one ugly…(you know the rest)”.

Beyond that, it was enjoyable! C’mon! It’s PREDATORS!!! IN A FREAKIN’ JUNGLE!!! Only without Arnold and other muscle-men heroes.

Action: 8
Guns. Lots of guns, appropriate to the human prey archetypes. Fight choreography is good – and believable. Our ex-con murderer shiving, slicing, stabbing, ambushing, brutal-in-your-mask-wrestling, you-or-me fighting is great! Tramping around in the jungle didn’t waste time or try my patience. As with the original, the travelling is broken up nicely with discovering new bits of information about the life-or-death survival sitation our humans are in.

They used buckets of blood – human and Predator. Body parts get sliced off. Decapitations occur. At least one spine gets ripped out. Chunks get blown off in explosions. Bodies get riddled with bullets. Bad guys get killed. Repeatedly. Good guys die trying to do the right thing.

Make no mistake: This is a violent film, as it should be.

Our anti-hero is a good fit, physically capable of pulling off the scenes he’s in, and swings a mean axe.

The parts with Laurence Fishburne are scene-stealing, as is the final climactic battle.

Drama: 4

Okay, another point of criticism. The drama was below average. Come ON!! This is supposed to be an Action-Adventure/Survival movie with elements of horror! DRAMA requires character development! If you don’t develop the characters, we don’t care if they die!

Why, oh why, do the idiots making these films have to be so damned Politically Correct? You can’t be very culturally diverse in an action film that’s under two hours long! You simply DO NOT have enough screen time to establish all the dead weight characters without sacrificing your main and secondary characters.

Our drug cartell killer? Dead in the first fight against alien critters. Was anyone surprised? They used him only to show that the Predators set traps. Big woop. What purpose for the movie did he serve? Did he move the plot along in a good way? Did he add to, or resolve, any sort of conflict or tension? No. Waste of time.

Our death-row mass murderer? Hung around a little as internal tension (who is he going to kill in our group? The girl? Seems likely), added some comic relief, and manages to shiv a Predator before dying. It would have been a better story to give all that extra time to the Russian, because someone else is already providing the internal tension!

Our Sierra Leone tribal killer – y’know, half of the stand-in for Billy from the original? He is there to just play off the death-row convict and die. Had a great intro, set up a nice internal conflict with the death-row guy. Died… pathetically. Waste of talent, time, and character.

The aggravating thing is, they could have combined any two of these characters into one, eliminated the third, played the combined character off against the Russian, and it would have been a vast improvement. Not least of which would have been more bits and pieces about our main and secondary characters. Y’know, so we’d feel that knife twist when they get killed.

Now, some things they did right:

Our main hero and the female sniper are excellent foils for each other. Great stuff here! The Yakuza assassin? Whoa, excellent! Neither of them is stupid. They act as intelligent, professional, talented survivors.

Adding in Laurence Fishburne, to give us explanations as to why there’s a tied up Predator still alive in the camp? Oh, yes, yes, yes!!

The doctor. Saw it coming from the first introduction of his character. It was not a gotcha.

The ironic comparisons between the humans as predators and the Predators as predators. Nice one!

SF: 6

The new Predators are bigger and meaner. But they give a valid reason for it that sets up the final act beautifully.

The Predators’ technology is sane and reasonable. I especially like the failsafe one of them used near the end. Not going to spoil it.

Setting aside a breathable atmosphere moon as a hunting preserve? Especially after they’re done mining it for useful materials? Well done, feeds into the plot in a good, reasonable way, and provides plenty of fodder for thought.

Taking the Predators’ tech and using it against them? Check.

Alien critters attacking our main characters? Check. Including some expanded surprises for our Predators’ hunting activities. Watch the cockroaches.

Our humans setting up their own traps and tactics as they learn more about what they’re facing? Check.

Human technology working as it should with no “mysterious” malfunctions? Check – with the usual Hollywood caveats. I’ve seen too many episodes of Mythbusters  about knockback from guns.

Concept of a high-tech alien race using their high-tech to go on safari? Oh, coolness galore! Done in the first movie, continued here.

Expanding that idea to capturing intelligent, armed prey for release into a hunting reservation for planned safaris? Heh, nice one! They pull a deus ex machina on this, though. Just how are the Predators going to grab a death-row convict, two days from execution, out of a U.S. maximum security prison? As referenced under Drama above, this character was problematic for the movie at the get-go.

Our characters’ methods for figuring out that something is majorly wrong with the whole environment. I especially liked the survivalist trick of magnetizing a needle, setting it on a floating leaf in a puddle of still water, as a makeshift compass for determining magnetic north. Not a surprise to us in the audience – it gave weird results. Very. Nice. Touch.

Pulling out the Hollywood-ism, waving it in front of us, and using it well: They marched for hours and the sun never moved. One of the main characters uses that as evidence that Things Are Seriously Wrong Here.

Adding another tribe of alien hunters with a slightly different approach? Nice addition to the backstory, but they didn’t DO enough with it! Remember in the original, we got to watch the Predator cleaning his trophies and enjoying the actual “having” of them? Yeah, none of that in this movie. Lost an opportunity here to up the SF score in a major way.

Survivors scavenging whatever they can use – alien or human – and using it to add to the story in creative ways? Well done, movie guys. Well done! No magic tech here – if it works for the aliens, it works for the humans the same way.

They did, however, break what should be a rule about Predator movies, and IS a rule in monster-movies: When the Predator fights you with an equal weapon (a la Billy taking on the Predator with just a big knife in the original), the Predator wins. Every. Time. I don’t care how cool it looks or sounds having a Yakuza assassin and katana sword go mano-e-mano with a Predator and his claw(s), only for them to kill each other. The Predator should have won. I’m OK for the Predator to be injured afterwards, and easier pickings for the next fight. Maybe even set it up so that the Predator is weakened enough that it loses the next fight. But they cheapened the monster with this trick. It went from a cunning, brutal, contemptuous, nigh-invulnerable enemy to… oh, we CAN kill it pretty easily.

The science fiction is in there, and done with some care. However, they did break some good story elements to pull off their plot. They also fell into the trap of having our new Predators act just like movie monsters – including the cheap “startle” scare. I’m surprised about those scenes – everything else was done with attention to what was set up in the original movie – they’re hunters, out for sport. There’s no sport in just blasting your opponent to bloody bits. It’s not sporting if the lion or tiger doesn’t even have a chance to stalk you and claw you. But they do it anyway, to the detriment of the movie.

Fantasy: 4
This is NOT a Fantasy movie. However, some of the science fiction they use definitely falls into the realm of fantasy:

The alien biology. Humans can breathe the atmosphere unaided, along with at least 3 other alien species.

Kidnapping a deathrow convict two days out from his execution, without raising all kinds of alarm bells.

New atmosphere has no effects on biology or explosions.

No alien plants.

Sex: 5

Only one element: Our death row killer admires the Israeli sniper babe’s posterior. Used well, escelated the tension among the survivors (will he kill her? will he?), and then… wasted. Again, too many throw-away characters in this flick. They didn’t have to have him actually attack her – it would have been better, in my opinion, to ratchet that tension up, then have him actually SAVE her.

Our main human characters, who are all male except for the afore-mentioned sniper, are male, wiry, sinewy. Adrien Brody – buff, tough, and bare-chested for our final fight.

That’s it. That’s all it needed.

Violence: 9
Blood. Gore. Buckets.

Lots of messy kills. There are guns, grenades, bombs, blaster weapons, claws, teeth, mandibles, fists, bullets, swords, knives, torture, dismemberments, decapitations, and a really cool scene of a spine getting ripped out of a body as a trophy.

This is a sequel to Predator.

It is violent, gory, and graphic.

It meets all the brutal expectations of the first movie, minus the skinned, bloody human corpses.

The fight scenes are well-choreographed, graphic, and filmed so that you can actually follow the action 99% of the time. The Predators show off their strength, toughness, and skill. The humans fight, desperately, passionately, fearfully, hopelessly.

NOT FOR KIDS!

Effects: 7

Good use of effects.

I must compliment the movie guys for putting actual big, buffed guys in monster suits for the Predators. With the exception of Cameron’s Avatar, the CGI can’t get the many nuances right for a completely CGI character. Also, you don’t get the subtle feedback and interplay through body language and facial expressions that you get when there is something big, hulking, ugly, and deadly RIGHT ON TOP OF YOU. It really added a presence to the Predators during their interactions with the humans and environment.

We get to see one Predator’s aerial scout device… ONE TIME. That’s it. It never appears again. I view this as another wasted opportunity. It could have been used to good effect during the “stalking” phase of the story.

Other & Final Thoughts:
This is a fun flick and a worthy sequel. If you enjoyed Predator, you’ll like Predators. I will probably add it to my DVD collection, especially if they include a director’s cut and making of.

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    Predators Movie Review « Life of Pookah

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