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No, It’s Really Good: Predators (Film Review)

The Alien and Predator have undergone some very extreme ups and downs. From studio mismanagement to financial disaster these two franchises have experience just about every snag known to Hollywood.

From the brilliance of the initial entries into the series, to the disappointing Predator 2, the so good it’s almost unbelievable Aliens, the jumbled mess that is Aliens 3,and  the complete and utter train wreck  that is Aliens: Resurrection. After a rather prolonged period of false starts and ultimately franchise decay setting in, Fox pulled the trigger on a crossover franchise Aliens Vs Predator. Unfortunately, they hired Paul WS Anderson to direct and co-write it, which means that the final product will inevitably be stagey, campy, and overly glossy. All things that make Alien and Predator fans cringe. The film did well enough to spawn a sequel, directed by the Brothers Strauss titled Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem. It didn’t fair well at the box office, despite not being as bad as it’s predecessor.

Now we get to the film we’re talking about today. Predators. Predators was originally written by Robert Rodriguez around the time he made desperado. The film was meant as a direct sequel to John McTiernan’s original film. It took the original protagonist, Dutch aka Arnold Schwarzenegger, and put him on a game preserve planet that was controlled by Predators. The script leaked online years after not being put into production to the lament of many a Predator fan.

When Fox decided to untangle the franchises and attempt to launch reboots the returned to Rodriguez and offered him the gig. However, he was too busy at the time to handle the writing and directing of the film so he hired Nimrod Antal to direct and Alex Litvak and Michael Finch to write. Rodriguez took on the roll of producer/overseer.

The journey that it took to get to the point where Fox would make the Predators sequel that everyone wanted was long and winding but the fates eventually won out, and Predators was produced and released. However the end product of the labors of all involved left many with a slightly sour taste in their mouths.

The high concept of the game preserve was kept intact but other than that this is a radically different film than the original Schwarzenegger vehicle. The produced film centers on a group of killers who are transported to a jungle and then hunted by the predator. The film has a quick pace and a keen sense of action. It fails to meet the original in terms of sheer bravado and testosterone but this film isn’t necessarily attempting to do that. Predators mimics the format of the original without being a copy cat. It has a rag tag group of specialists, who happen to be literal predators, who are forced to work as a team and combat the predators.

There’s an unofficial rule of thumb, in AVP fan base, whenever there’s more than one Predator the story sucks. And, that’s part of the problem with this film. They have different sects of the predator society competing and hunting. That’s not a bad idea but at times it feels like you’re watching a Jaws movie with like four sharks. Who wants that? No one.

Ultimately the biggest flaw with Predators is the way the ending is handled. Oh, sure the characters are kinda bland, and there isn’t a lot of meat on their bones, but it’s a horror/action movie. Are you really there for that? No. You’re there to see shit explode, people die, and the predator to be cool. The ending of the movie ends on a severe cliffhanger. Not a singer like the AVP movies. It’s not like the plot is resolved and our character’s arcs have been resolved and then there’s a new plot element that’s introduced as a teaser of what the next story is. No, not at all. Our lead characters are very much left hanging. There’s not resolution to there story, that’s the cliffhanger. It’s an unfortunate narrative decision because you leave the theatre with  mixed feelings. You’re hoping that the film is successful enough to warrant a sequel so that  the story you just watched won’t feel like a wasted sum of money and time.

Predators gets a bad rap around the AVP fan base. It’s not hated as much as AVP or AVPR but it’s not loved either. The general consensus that I’ve gleaned is that people like it, when reminded that it exists. Which is a terrible fate for a fun action movie that got so much right. Sure, Topher Grace’s character sucks. Sure, there could have been more meat on the characters. Sure, there were some not great moments but there were a lot of amazing elements added as well. The idea of the Predator races is really cool, the action is great, the ‘predator dogs’ is really cool and the overall design of the piece is really compelling.

Here’s hoping that Fox eventually pulls the plug on Predators 2 or Predatorses or Predatorist or whatever they’re going to call it. I’ll show up.

3 / 5 stars     

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About the Author

on MUSIC IS MY OXYGEN WEEKLY.

Dave Baker, originally from the drug-infested wasteland that is Arizona, lives in Los Angeles. He has a degree in Visual Communications with an emphasis in Illustration. Logically, he makes a living as a writer. Dave has written comic books and the moving pictures. Dave also enjoys talking about himself in the third person, not cooking, and taking long walks around his apartment. If you'd like to read more of his writing or comics they can be found at http://theactionhospital.com

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Posted in: Cult Movies, Featured (Film), Film, Horror Films, Sci-Fi Movies


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