Predators is made by fans though a bit ridiculous

[Probably some spoilers below]

The Robert Rodriguez-produced Predators has definitely been made by fans, hoping to appeal to fans. And they will succeed or not to very different degrees from person to person, based on what the viewers are looking for.

But first, the story

Our movie starts in free fall. An unconscious Adrien Brody wakes up falling through the sky. A parachute automatically pops out just in time to prevent death, but not by much.

Little by little, Adrien Brody (doing his best Dark Knight impression) meets up with various characters, each trying to deal with being dropped into some unknown jungle by an unknown force. They're a quite diverse group, from all over the earth and with very different political and personal alignments:

  • A Russian commando serving in Chechnya (Oleg Taktarov)
  • An Israeli sniper (Alice Braga)
  • A Mexican cartel enforcer (Danny Trejo)
  • A death row inmate (Walton Goggins)
  • A Yakuza enforcer (Louis Ozawa Changchien)
  • A Sierra Leone death squad soldier (Mahershalalhashbaz 'Mahershala' Ali - no, I didn't have fun with that name)
  • And the scariest one of all, Topher Grace as a doctor.

They soon realize they're on an alien planet and being hunted by something big and something scary. And it turns out those two things ... are the same thing. (See what I did there? Okay, it's not my best.)

They find a campsite with a giant, be-dreadlocked creature (that's right, I maked up a word peoples) chained to a totem. Suddenly, and completely out of the blue, our team is attacked while in the very heart of their enemy's base camp.

They run, fall into a lake, and find out that our Israeli sniper has seen the Schwarzenegger classic Predator and sort of knows what they're up against. So they make a failed attempt to lure one of these invisible creatures that I promise are there, you just can't see them, but they're all trying to get me, I'm not crazy, they're there I tell you, seriously! Then they meet up with a crazy former Air Cavalry soldier (Morpheus) who's been hiding out for a few years now.

He explains that there's actually two types of hunters, and the one we've seen for the past twenty years is actually the small one. Yup. Apparently 'small' Predators are Predatorworld's primary export and that's why we've never seen this other giant type. He temporarily provides them shelter, then surprisingly tries to kill them while they're in the middle of his base camp!

Escape! Run! A couple Giant Predator attacks, and we're left with just Adrien Brody, the Israeli sniper, and Dr. Topher Grace. Brody frees the Predator that they saw earlier chained up in exchange for a ride home. Or at least to the bus stop near the corner if that's more convenient because he could totally walk from there.

Meanwhile, Dr. Topher turns out to be a secret psychopath who feels at home here with the monsters and attacks lady sniper for no real reason. Brody returns, booby traps Dr. Topher as bait for the last remaining giant Predator, then rolls in the mud to get that icky Topher Grace smell off of him.

Nice loud fight and it's just the two humans left.

And that's when we finally get an answer to the biggest mystery of the entire movie: Adrien Brody's character is called Royce.

The film ends with Brody Royce and Lady Isabelle Sniper watching as a new bunch of victims are parachuted in and the two of them, stranded on this planet, decide to walk off and get to know the new neighbors.

Predators - trailer

Dot dot dot

It appears to be impossible to make a new movie in either the Alien or Predator series without filling it up with tons of allusions to previous movies, particularly the original. I would kind of prefer if they could simply make a new movie on its own. As a Star Trek fan, I really can't think of this many allusions in all of eleven movies.

But more importantly, the characterization is fairly minimal. There's really not much depth to these guys. Even when we get back story there's little depth to it all. There's a wide variety of characters, but most of them sound like any old character from so many other movies. The most interesting one is Laurence Fishburne's Noland, and even he feels like Tom Hanks from Castaway dropped onto LV-426.

What about the monsters?

The biggest element here is the out-of-the-blue creation of an even larger race of Predator. On the one hand, it's a cool idea to have two types of Predator from the same planet. On the other hand,it just doesn't make sense after all these other movies to find out there's a Predator race we haven't even heard of yet.

That and under the helmet, the new larger Predator really doesn't look nearly as distinctive as the original. It's like they took a bust of the original and threw clay on it to make it bigger. But without much real creativity or aesthetic.

Their helmets have refreshing variety and do look pretty cool. But on the whole, it just feels like one-upmanship for its own sake.

Where does that leave us?

There's lots of action, and if you just let yourself get into it, it can be a fun ride. But it's not a great monster movie and as a movie in general, it's passable.

One of the things that worked so well in Predator was the fact that we got to see Schwarzenegger and his team at work for a while before the Predator threat actually popped up. We see the team's interpersonal relationships and personalities before it all hits the fan.

In this one, everyone is a tabula rasa to each other. They spend time getting to know each other, but it's all under duress from the beginning and we really don't get to know them that well that way.

And there's some questionable physics at times too. Like, two grenades killing one of the Goliath Predators and making a giant CG column of flame that would fill an entire mansion. And then five of them strapped to Dr. Topher's chest kinda knocks the wind out of the remaining one.

But what do you think?

3 out of 5 stars from 1 rating of Predators

Overall, the movie is enjoyable in the right mood, and I do find it a little more enjoyable than Predator 2, but I give it a 6 / 10.

Predators is rated R for strong sci-fi creature violence and gore and lots of language (including the convict speaking of raping women).

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