This weekend saw the release of Predators, which is the second Predator sequel (not counting the two Alien vs. Predator movies), and comes 23 years after the release of the first Predator film, which starred Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Predators producer Robert Rodriguez (who also wrote early drafts of the screenplay) has stated that the new movie is a straight sequel to Predator, with no regard to the second film, 1990’s Predator 2 starring Danny Glover (and like GoD staffer Vactor always asks, in what universe is Danny Clover an action hero?).
I loved the first Predator movie in all its 80s action-movie glory, and thankfully Predators does a fine job at bringing the Predator mythos to modern-day audiences.
Predators has several nods to its predecessor, but goes beyond being just ‘more of the same.’ The film sees a group of humans dropped one by one into a jungle area. None of them have any knowledge of how they got there or why they were brought there. Most of them are armed and understandable suspicious of one another. As they search the area for clues to unravel the mystery of their circumstance, they realize that they’re actually on some kind of game preserve — the problem is, they’re the game! Hunting them are the Predators, an alien race of creatures who live for the hunt and make trophies of their kill. Now, the humans have to figure out a way to not only survive, but to escape!
If you’ve seen Predators, then it’s time for some SPOILER TALK. Continue reading for my SPOILER-filled thoughts on the movie, and feel free to leave your thoughts in the Comments section below.
WARNING: If you have not seen Predators, do NOT read any further. There will be SPOILERS below.
The film opens with Adrien Brody‘s character Royce unconscious in mid-freefall. He’s the film’s lead star, so we know he’ll survive, but it was still a badass way to open the movie and I was totally scared for him! Plus, you never know, it could have been a scene from another part of the movie and we were just being flash-backed to it. Thankfully, Royce awakens in time to deploy parachute and when he lands, we see other people parachuting into the jungle area. There’s also people who’ve arrived just prior to Royce. Royce meets up with the rest of the people dropped into the area, they are all suspicious of one another, and most are not only armed, but heavily armed. None can remember how they got there.
Alice Braga plays Isabelle, an Israeli black ops sniper, and under the circumstances, I’d say she was a little too cool and level-headed. Matter of fact, aside from Stans the death-row prison inmate and Edwin the geeky young doctor (played by Topher Grace), I’d say they were all just a little too calm. But, ok, it’s in the script, no time to panic! Survival first.
Since Adrien Brody is the star of the movie, he’s the one who figures out that they are on some kind of game preserve and they were brought there to be the game! They also realize that, whoa, they’re not on Earth!!! Again, way too calm — hello, you are no longer on Earth!!! HOLY SHIT! Also, the group doesn’t find out they are on another planet for a while and part of the suspense is them tracking clues and using their skills to figure out where they are, so I wish the film’s promo materials hasn’t revealed that this was actually an alien game preserve planet. It would have been better if the audience found out when the characters did.
Luckily in movieland, when humans go to other planets, they can breath the air there. We can’t go to our own Moon without space suits, but another planet not in our galaxy? No problem! For that matter, I like how aliens can come to Earth and survive. Lucky for those Predators.
Aside from the jungle setting, the first nod to the original Predator movie was with the score. One part of the first movie that always stuck out to me was that there was a sequence in the score that seemed so inappropriate to the scenario, which was the commando group searching for hostages in the jungle and they already know there’s danger. I tried to find a clip of it, but haven’t been able to (I wouldn’t know how to get it from the DVD). It reminded me of the music in Return of the Jedi when they are on the forest moon of Endor (it’s that lively music, I think it’s when Wicket and Leia first meet). In the new movie, that same lively jungle trek music is briefly played, but again, these people are in danger and they know it! Every step could be their last, why the inquisitive upbeat score? Thankfully, it’s only a snippet, and I think it was meant as a throwback to the original film. The rest of the score was really good.
Another nod to the original movie was the booby traps the group accidentally triggers at the beginning of the film. I especially liked that there was a log-weight trap, which was what Dutch (Schwarzenegger’s character in the first movie) used in the original film to defeat the Predator. Very cool! The traps were left there by a man who was killed by Predators who managed to get around his traps. According to the Predators prequel comic, this man was originally the lone survivor from a group Navy Seals that had been brought there.
Of all the people to choose from, the Predators pick a military person who happens to know of them already. It took her long enough, but Isabelle finally tells the group that she’s heard of these Predators before. Not only has she heard of them, she knows the story of Dutch and what happened to his group in Central America 23 years prior. First of all, I’m thinking Dutch’s report of events was probably pretty classified, I doubt Isabelle would ever have assess to it. Also, she says Dutch’s group encountered a Predator in Guatemala, but the first movie never says where exactly they are in Central America except that the country borders Guatemala.
There’s a scene where everyone in the group goes down a small waterfall and is submerged in water. Now, I’m no weapons expert, but wouldn’t all of their mechanical weaponry be messed up after that? Seriously, someone tell me, because that was my first thought during this scene.
Let’s talk Topher Grace: Here’s an actor I loved during his humble beginnings on That ’70s Show and even dig him in romantic comedies, but ever since he played Venom in Spider-Man 3, he’s kind of ruined for me. In Predators, I kept expecting him to turn into Venom (who, I think we can all agree, was annoying and laughable in SM3). His character Edwin is supposedly a doctor who was on his way to work when he was abducted, but right away you know there has to be more to it — although, there was a chance that he didn’t belong there and was only being used by the Predators to affect the other people in the group. Remember — they realize that the Predators were testing their reactions, like when they made it seem like Danny Trejo’s character Cuchillo (the Mexican drug cartel enforcer) was calling out to them for help.) Edwin was the only one who wasn’t an obvious killer like the rest of the group, but we see at the end he’s really a creepy serial killer type, which was why he was chosen. But, doesn’t seem odd that through the movie he played the geeky awkward doctor, and then at the end he decides to go psycho? Didn’t his own survival mean more to him than his serial killer impulses? I understand the movie needed a twist, but this one was way too obvious and didn’t make enough sense to justify.
After the film, I wondered if Edwin was really a doctor. I assumed that he really was a doctor, but that he was a sadist, like, he treats and saves his patients, but in his spare time, tortures and kills other people. Some people have said that he wasn’t a doctor, that he said that as a cover, but he’d been stuck in that tree a while panicking, I find it hard to believe he’d lie and say he was a doctor — a profession that’s hard to fake and also he might have to prove it later (for instance, if someone got hurt, they might have been like ‘You’re the doctor, come help!’). Although, wasn’t there a part when someone was injured and he ignored it and was goofing around? (I think it was the part where the Russian guy shows him a picture of his kids.) A real doctor would instinctively have gone to the injured person’s aid. But if he wasn’t really a doctor, then why was he carrying a scalpel? And how did he know so much about the planet’s plant life?
[Update: After I wrote all this about Edwin, I found a featurette about Edwin where Robert Rodriguez says that Edwin is a doctor and a serial killer and that his weapon of choice is a scalpel; also that while no one thinks Edwin belongs there, Edwin KNOWS he belong. Fine and dandy, but why release a featurette like this BEFORE the movie? I’m glad I didn’t see it beforehand, it’s such a major spoiler!] See featurette just below.
Speaking of that scalpel, would it really be considered a weapon? I mean, yes, it could be a weapon, but so can a pair of scissors, but scissors aren’t classified as a weapon. Here’s why I ask: I thought that Predators only attacked people who have weapons on them — and actually, I thought the weapons had to be guns or bombs — something that would give off heat — not knives. In the first movie, Dutch realizes they won’t attack a weaponless person, that’s why he doesn’t let Anna have a weapon. (I also thought that’s why in the end, he goes weaponless so he’s hard to detect.) Perhaps because it’s the game preserve, the same rules of the hunt the Predators go by on Earth do not apply here. If the same rules do apply, I don’t considered Edwin’s scalpel to be a weapon (even though, we see later on that he uses it as one).
Regarding weapons, Laurence Fishburne‘s character Noland (I’ll get to him later) tells the group that the Predators constantly adapt to the weapons they encounter. So, if you use a specific machine gun on them, they will learn about the weapon and then adapt themselves to it so that it doesn’t kill them to be attacked by that weapon. If that’s true, then how would that Predator who had a sword fight with Hanzo the Yakuza guy have been killed by Hanzo with a sword that was already on the planet? Wouldn’t the Predators have adapted to samurai swords by now, especially since the sword was already there?
Laurence Fishburne: Didn’t he seem totally out of place in this movie? If you read the aforementioned prequel comic, you’d already know about his character Noland. But in Predators it just seemed strange that he appeared out of nowhere and as luck would have it, he knows all there is to know! Now the group no longer has to use their brains and skills to figure out what’s happening because Morpheus is there to tell them! Well, I guess it’s more legit than having them wander into a cave filled with hieroglyphics that explains everything and have one of the characters just so happen to understand alien hieroglyphics. (Yeah, I’m lookin at you, AvP.)
Someone tell me how Noland survived 10 seasons on that planet? Also, please tell me what the hell he’s been eating and why doesn’t he look like he’s been struggling for food?
Another cool nod to the original film: Mud. Since Isabella already told Royce that Dutch had tricked a Predator’s heat sensors by covering himself in mud, you just knew Royce was heading for the mud. I think the sequence really worked and I’m glad they included it, but again, since Predators study their prey and learn from their previous encounters, wouldn’t they already be on to the mud trick?
I wonder, where was the Predator parachute factory and who do they have working there? It would have been cool if the group found that factory and in horror were like, “OH… MY… GOD… this is where they make the parachutes, oh god, [looks up to the sky] NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!”
Final nod to the original: Little Richard’s “Long Tall Sally” plays over the end credits. This is the song the commando group is listening to in the original film while in the helicopter. (Also, one of the characters, Mac, sings a few lines of the song while searching for the Predator.)
While we’re in spoiler territory, I might as well bring up an issue about the movie that’s angered quite a few people. In the Predators we learn that on this game preserve planet three of the bigger Predators (called Berzerker Predators) are hunting the group of humans. There are also the Classic Predators, which are smaller in size, and that there’s a feud between the two Predator races. In a promo still for the film (see it here at right), you see Adrien Brody’s Royce covered in five Predator gunsights and then in the trailer, you see he’s slowly covered in about 15 sights. This part wasn’t really on my radar going into the movie, but my friend Dave Chen of /Film tweeted that the multiple-gunsight scene was not in the movie — instead, there’s a scene where Royce only has one Predator gunsight on him. Understandably, people are pissed about it, because the multiple-gunsight shot implied that there would be many Predators hunting at one time in this movie. Turns out that the scene was shot specifically for the trailer itself, according to Rodriguez, who was asked about this by MTV. Apparently, he shots trailer-only scenes for a lot of his movies and in this case he said he “needed a shot that would ‘crystallize the idea’ of the humans being stalked by the predators and so filmed a scene specifically for the trailer.”
And there you have it! Your turn… What did you think of Predators? Was it a good follow-up to the original Predator movie? How does it compare to the other movies in the Predator franchise?