Director: Nimrod Antal
Stars: Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, Alice Braga, Walton Goggins
Review by Brian M. Sammons
The original Predator is a sci-fi action classic if there ever was one, so why the hell would anyone want to remake it? Well that never stopped Hollywood before, but here’s the good news, and something that came as a surprise to me considering the era of remakeitus we currently find ourselves in: this isn’t a remake. No it’s an honest to goodness sequel, one that acknowledges the original film, if ignoring the other movies that had the dreadlocked alien hunters in them. But hey, who can blame them for that? So that one simple fact means I can cut this movie some slack. After all, I grew up in the 80s, so I’m used to crappy sequels (yes I’m looking at you Halloween 6, Nightmare On Elm Street 5, Jason Goes To Hell and so many more).
But is this one of those groan inducing sequels? Well even if it is, that’s better than a remake. But let’s find out together if this is a hunt worth taking.
The movie certainly starts off with a bang with our cast waking up in free fall over an alien jungle. After some rough introductions it becomes clear that a group of badass soldiers, mercenaries, convicts and killers have been rounded up and put into the Predator’s game preserve for them to track and kill. Herein lies the first problem I had with this movie; I just didn’t like the characters. Not because they are so cold and killerific. No, it’s because they’re just not written all that well. In the first movie you came to know Arnie’s squad quite well and you could tell they had history together. This time around everyone is a stranger, and such different strangers that they basically get reduced to clichéd cardboard cutouts. There’s the big Russian with a good heart; the silent, mystical Japanese gangster; the tough as nails but caring Latina; the redneck convict; and so on.
The next problem I had came from the CGI. Now to be fair and to give credit where credit is due; a lot, if not most, of the Predator scenes are played “traditionally.” That is with big guys in rubber suits. However a lot of the extra critters, such as the Predators’ hunting hounds and the nonhuman prey the Predators airdropped in to play with look pretty darn bad when on screen. Not horrible, mind you, like in some movies but just plain old run of the mill bad. But that just might be my personal bias showing through. I’m not a fan of CGI, so we’ll just leave it at that and move on.
The last real problem I had was with Adrien Brody’s character. It wasn’t because that he was in the Schwarzenegger role and I disliked him just for that, and it wasn’t because he wasn’t “big enough” like I’ve heard some people say. Really, Adrien had a body in this flick that anyone would kill for and besides, most spec-ops badasses don’t look like professional bodybuilders anyway. No, my gripe was that I didn’t like his forced “I’m a tough guy” act, complete with a way too rough Christian-Bale-as-Batman-like voice. But as bad as that was, it was the sudden 180 his character took at the end that was a bit too whiplash inducing for my taste. I won’t give it away, but you’ll know it when you see it.
However I don’t want you to get the idea that not everything is bad with this movie. Hell no, far from it. It has some nice action scenes, a few good twists and turns, and three big angry Predators. Some of the characters, while not well defined and a bit clichéd, I did like and I’m just sad they weren’t more fully developed. There are also a lot of nice in jokes and nods to the first film. What made such winks work was that they felt like they were done out of love and not just obligatory fan service. Lastly, it also introduced some new elements into the Predator mythology that I thought worked, something none of the other Predator movies did after the original. So it was action packed, had cool critters, and was easily the best movie with the Rasta-haired aliens in it since the one where Arnold told someone to “Stick around.” For all those reasons I dug it and I will happily watch it again. For this old curmudgeon, that’s high praise for a new movie.
The Blu-ray from 20th Century Fox is great looking and comes packed with a few neat extras. There is a very entertaining and informative audio commentary by producer Robert Rodriguez and director Nimrod Antal. There’s a 40 minute, multi-part featurette called “Evolution of the Species” that’s the basic behind the scenes deal but with a few nods to the original film. A short featurette called “The Chosen” about the humans picked to play the Predator’s game. There’s a bit from the Fox Movie Channel called “Making a Scene” focusing on the scene when the Predator’s puppies are first introduced. Perhaps the coolest of the extras are some motion comics that act as prequels to the movie and give you some back story on some of the characters and how they came to be picked up by the Predators. A few deleted and extended scenes and the theatrical trailer round out the goodie basket.
Predators is a fun popcorn muncher from the fast free fall start to the final mano-a-alien showdown. It is a worthy sequel to the classic film and once again, thankfully not a remake. I liked this movie and wish all “reboots” would be done with such skill, style, and reverence to the source material. Yep, this is a rare new movie that gets an easy nod of recommendation from me.