Posted by Cantankerous Panda on August 8, 2010
Well colour me shocked, kittens, but this I actually found this retread to be fairly enjoyable! If you haven’t heard of the Predators franchise, then please rapidly extract yourself from the hole in which you are currently residing and GET TO DA CHOPPA!! Er, I mean, introduce your face to the original film. In actuality, it’s not necessary for the understanding of this film, but there are references to what happened in the original, as well as a number of homages and throwbacks, so it makes the film a bit more enjoyable to watch if you’ve seen the first. I will admit that my memory of the first one isn’t that great, so I’m sure I missed many of those ‘inside jokes’. Either way, the throwbacks I did get were fun.
This is going to be an issue of whether you are a Predator ‘purist’ or not in terms of the pure enjoyment of the film. I am not a Predator purist, so I sort of chose to look at the film as an extension of the Predator universe but also as a sort of standalone film that doesn’t require prior context. I recommend watching this as a simple silly action flick, which can actually work because there’s not as many blatantly ridiculous elements to the film as there are in some other summer blockbuster *ahem Transformers 2 ahem*. The film starts off by literally dropping us into the jungle, along with our protagonist named Royce, played by… Oscar nominee Adrian Brody.
Let me just cop to one thing: I am not an Adrian Brody fan. This is nothing new, and I’m sure it will not change much in the future. When I first heard about his role in this movie, I laughed out loud because it’s Adrian Brody. As in, The Pianist Adrian Brody. The super-serious actor Adrian Brody. It was just difficult to wrap my brain around him as an action star. And yet, as the film went on, I found I wasn’t as agitated by him as I had thought. So, bravo, Mr. Brody. Anyway, we meet a bunch of other similarly-dispatched characters, who all turn out to have some sort of military or mercenary background, with one exception: a doctor named Edwin, played by… Topher Grace (“That ’70s Show”, Spider-Man 3, Traffic).
Can you tell that I was totally thrown by the casting choices? Because it doesn’t end there, but I will get to that later. Realization slowly overtakes our band of misfits as they realize they all share a similar background from their various parts of the world (the sole woman is, of course, a member of the Israeli Defense Force, which I think is an odd choice over Mossad), with the exception of the doctor–something that really, really stuck out from the beginning but everyone ignored for pretty much all of the film. It further dawns on them that they are in some serious shit when they realize that they are not on Earth, thanks to crystal-clear view of a number of planets in the sky.
Royce, being the badass Black Ops guy that he is, seems to have the answer to practically everything and he declares that they were taken from their respective lands and transported to this planet for sport: they are being hunted by something or someone. This is confirmed by several alien-beasts attacking them, only to be called back by their ‘owners’. Beasts that were also dropped onto the planet, though I don’t quite know why because I’d assume that they belonged there…
And thus begins our tale of survival. Survival to what end, we don’t quite know, but the group mostly attempts to stick together to tough it out. Did I mention they are fully-armed with a variety of weaponry? At least the predators have leveled the playing field a little. We also learn that they are hardly the first people to be roofie-dropped onto this planet as we then meet a survivor of one of the former groups named Nolan, played by… Laurence Fishburne (best known as Morpheus from The Matrix Trilogy, and now currently a regular on “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation”).
Yeah, totally unexpected casting choices were made for this film. Also, considering that the character Nolan was supposed to be a scavenger trying to survive however he can on the planet for a long period of time while also out-maneuvering the predators, he was surprisingly plump. I just think that’s a silly thing for someone who is supposed to be exiled on a hostile planet and scrounging for scraps of food in order to get by (kinda like Hurley on “Lost”, which I stopped watching during season 2, but the guy never lost any weight–something that is so ridiculous considering their situation). Also, Laurence Fishburne being all crazylike is such an odd experience. But, he was fun, so I tried to ignore the fact that Adrian Brody and Laurence Fishburne just looked odd together onscreen.
I know, I know. You’re all saying, “Dammit, Panda! This is PREDATORS! Stop talking about the people and focus on the CREATURES!” Fair enough, my rabid little pixies. The film largely centers on the theme of what it means to be human, which is perfectly contrasted by how the alien creatures act (of course). Peppered between all of the interpersonal conversations and the humanizing of people we would probably consider to be fairly evil in our world, we have various sorts of things attacking them. I spoke about one earlier: the alien-beasts that are almost like attack dogs for the predators.
But we also find out about a sort of apartheid system on this planet; a system where the predators that we all recognize from the original are the “inferior”, slave race and a bigger, badder race of predators are the real evil overlords.
This tense situation is ripe with opportunity to start a battle between the two races, which, of course, ends up happening. Who could ask for anything more than predator v. predator action?
We also have a ton of predator technology meant to totally blow your friggin’ mind!
Then there’s the awesomely hilarious killing sequences, such as the samurai sword fight between Hanzo, played by Louis Ozawa Changchien, and a predator drone:
Keeping with the shirtless theme, I give you a topless, raging Brody:
I want to take the moment to mention the sole actress in the film, Alice Braga (Repo Men, I Am Legend), who plays Isabelle, the IDF officer who forms a close bond with Royce. Not only do I think that she did a really good job with the role, especially since she gave me a distinctly Ziva vibe (as in Ziva David, the Mossad officer played by Cote de Pablo in the great TV show “NCIS”), but she also played the part with the appropriate amount of “depth” to be both a total badass and the most sympathetic and ‘human’ character among the group (though you could argue that Nikolai, played by Oleg Taktarov [Rollerball], was similarly ‘human’). Just check out how awesomely badass she is:
Let’s get down to the basics, shall we?
Do I recommend this film? Sure, for mindless action. It’s not the best action film ever, but director Nimród Antal did a competent job directing the action and creating a relatively believable alien world for us. It’s fun to watch the surprinsing cast playing roles that are well outside of their typical repertoire (with the exception, for the most part, of Topher Grace, who continues to act like a bumbling geek). The script, written by Alex Litvak and Michael Finch, is fairly solid for what it is. The overall plot is not really that important, but I think it makes a decent amount of sense for the situation they offered, and the dialogue has a good amount of humour interjected into it. And, of course, there’s always room for yet another sequel. So, if you’re looking for some ‘junk films’ for a good time, and you like sci-fi, I’d give this one a lighthearted go.
Oh, and Robert Rodriguez produced this film, which threw me off because I thought he was the director for a long time.
On another note, one of my favourite people in the film, Danny Trejo (From Dusk ‘Til Dawn) dies too early for my liking. But that’s OK, because immediately preceding the film was a preview for Machete, of which he is the STAR. If you don’t know Machete, I demand that you watch the faux-trailers for the Grindhouse double-feature and see the amazingly hilarious creations by a variety of directors (I even enjoyed Eli Roth’s contribution). What I love most about this upcoming film is that they took a mock trailer and made it into a real movie with the exact same people from the trailer, and copied those sequences for the real trailer. I die from the happiness of it all.