Monday, July 12, 2010
GOOD, BUT LACKING GREAT: PREDATORS REVIEW
This review will be similar to my Nightmare on Elm Street critique in that I have seen the original, but don't remember the 1987 Predator well enough for comparison. Even with that said, the 2010 Predators played homage to the original in many aspects. The music, some of the dialogue, and of course the gritty looking alien creatures that thrive for the hunt. The story in Predators is much different than the original, but I think that helps put this movie in a class of its own.
This film was produced by Robert Rodriguez (Sin City) and directed adequately by Nimród Antal. I used adequately to describe his work because some shots were really well constructed and other shots just didn't work. The producers don't try to mimic the original Predator story-wise, but they seem to have an idea of what made the original a success. Pitting both alien and human elite killers against one another seems like a can't miss, but marketing to a new audience while also appeasing an established fan base is never an easy task. I think the producers found a decent mix between the two, and successfully created a fresh start to a possible new series of films.
The movie begins with Adrien Brody in free fall towards the ground. An advanced alien parachute opens just in time for him to land on the ground safely. He soon discovers he is not the only human trying to find his bearings in this unfamiliar territory. He crosses paths with other humans who seem to have one standout similarity like himself; they are hardened killers. Alice Braga plays the lone female among the group as a skilled shooter with her sniper rifle and Topher Grace plays his usual neurotic self. The movie picks up steam as the group realizes that the unknown terrain masks the presence of vicious hunters who see them as the prey.
The tension was established when the movie began. Brody dropping into an environment with no knowledge of what is going on or his location causes the audience to identify with his character off the bat and want to discover the answer to these questions with him. Knowing what is lurking in the jungle evokes anxiousness to viewers because the characters do not know what they are in for, but we do. As the movie progresses, the tension continues to rise as the group discovers why they are there and how much stronger and more advanced the Predators are.
All the characters in this movie seemed to bring something to the table, but some much less than others. Each character was given at least some screen time helping to create more tension when the audience senses danger for the group members they like or identify with. The humans discover defeating the enemy might be impossible making their effort to ward off these Predators that much more interesting.
That solid writing is partnered with some good action. The combat between the humans and Predators created a powerful sense of pride each of these sides had to defeat the other. I loved to see the "predator" mentality from each camp as the two tried to hunt each other down. The Predators put their malevolence on display as they gruesomely executed their victims.
One thing I did not particularly enjoy was the quick peaks into the point of view of the Predators. The story starts off from the human perspective and stays that way mostly throughout. Then deep into the movie the audience is thrust into the mind of the Predator. We are forced to try and interpret this perspective which seems little more than a peak into the Predators acute visionary tactics. What is the point here? We already know they are more advanced than humans, why change the point of view in the story? Though this element is used in the original, I thought it felt displaced here.
Overall, Predators had an old school feeling wrapped in a new package. The story, though very basic, had very strong characteristics of a well drawn out narrative. The tension especially was always being escalated by the actors, the situations, the setting, or most importantly the score. This movie was hurt drastically by two plot twists that came across as misses in my book. They hurt the simplicity of the narrative and personally I thought they were the worst parts of the movie.
This movie is worth the price of admission if you were a fan of the other Predator films or enjoy a decent action flick. Predators fared decently at the theaters this weekend taking in $25 million, but if you want to see the best movie over the weekend that would be the box office champion Despicable Me.
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