Well, Jonah Hex bombed out of theaters before I could see it, so I was forced to move on down the line. I had a list of like six movies I wanted to see this month, but then when I actually took a moment to ponder the list I realized they were almost all sure to be bad. And I just don’t really have the time or money to be so reckless in my movie viewing these days. The selection process needs to be improved. What can I say, The A-Team really took it out of me.
When I started this blog I intended to review a movie every week, but that just isn’t feasible anymore. Between my new gig at arrowheadaddict and a mixed martial arts project I’m starting soon, I think the best I can do is a review every couple of weeks. Those of you frantically checking the site every day should adjust your internet routine accordingly.
I don’t know why I picked Predators. It was a weird move. Normally my selections are made weeks in advance. But Tuesday night, for whatever reason, I got up, took the subway to village east cinema, and bought a ticket for the 8:40 showing. I hardly even thought about it. It was like I was some guy who’d been frozen in time after the first Predator, and hadn’t borne witness to the monstrosities that followed. I was all, “New Predator movie?!? This I gotta see!”
The thing is though, I have seen the other installments. In the theaters. And they all sucked ass. The last thing I want to do is offend any Glover lovers, but Predator 2 was garbage. The AVPs were even worse. It stood to reason the newest incarnation would continue the descent. Sequels don’t often get better (the exception being whenever Van Helsing 2 comes out). Thankfully, Predators was a special case.
Disclaimer: the legends are gone. Arnold, Weathers, The Body, Duke, none of the original heroes make so much as a cameo. Sure most of them are supposed to be dead, but there are ways around that. Is a visit from Bill Duke’s ghost too much to ask? Imagine the sage advice he would’ve delivered. I don’t even hunt monsters, and I feel like I could use a dose of Duke in my daily life. They do mention Arnold at one point, but they don’t even call him Arnold. They insist on using the character name. WTF?
All joking aside, this movie really wasn’t that bad. If you liked Predator, you’ll probably like Predators. It’s the same basic movie. Eclectic group of warriors battle monster(s) in the jungle. Apparently producer Robert Rodriguez wanted to make a direct sequel to Predator, ignoring what came after. He wanted this to be to Predator what Alien was to Aliens. Honestly, I’d say he succeeded in that regard. I came away thinking of it as a reasonably well done throwback, and that was before I’d read about Rodriguez’s goal.
It may seem like an obvious move to distance yourself from the AVPs, but I am currently assigning credit for making the obvious moves. I would’ve thought it was an obvious decision not to make AVP 2, but that still happened. I was just impressed my reaction jived with what Rodriguez was going for. Supposedly he wrote the script fifteen years ago and the suits at 20th Century Fox recently found it sitting around somewhere, loved it, and called him up. I’m not sure I believe that, but regardless, Rodriguez did a good job and has earned my respect. Predator fans everywhere should be grateful to him.
Maybe the most interesting aspect of the film was the casting of Adrien Brody in the lead role. At first glance, it seemed an odd choice. I’ve heard people say it was a bad career move for him, but that’s not how I see this at all. Brody may be an oscar winner, but dramatic leading man opportunities since The Pianist have been few and far between. I’ve heard Brody himself lament this. You’d like to see him be more grateful for the fucking lottery ticket he’s won and settle for cool parts regardless of stature, but that just isn’t how these lunatics are built*. They all want to be the biggest star in the world. Given that, I think this role was an excellent choice.
*” I brought the same kind of discipline I would to a film like The Pianist.” -Brody, describing his role in Predators. Wow Adrien Brody, almost ten years later and you’re still name-dropping your own oscar film. Cool.
Not that getting on a steroid cycle and starring in a big-budget summer sequel is the most respectable choice in the world, but where else could Brody find a role this high-profile? In terms of being seen the most (formula: screen time x box office sales) this was definitely a big score for him. A bonus is that much of the audience was probably seeing him for the first time. And although there was certainly nothing oscar-worthy going on, neither was there anything embarrassing enough to permanently scar his reputation. I’d say Brody navigated the action/adventure seas admirably.
The other two actors of note are Lawrence Fishburne and Topher Grace. Although both of these guys have had very different careers than Brody, they’re sort of in the same basic situation he is. “Respectable” actors with limited options. High-quality options, anyway. I mean seriously, where is there for any of these guys to go? Fishburne is on the decline. Brody and Grace haven’t done that much to begin with. They all just want to be seen by as many eyes as possible at this point, with limiting humiliation being the second concern. Predators was a perfect match for all three in my stoney opinion.
Although Fishburne actually does sort of embarrass himself. His part was by far the worst, way worse than any of the rest of the cast. All of them were basically bad, but not so bad as to be distracting. I’ll take that. Fishburne, on the other hand, had some pretty dicey moments. I definitely winced a time or two, and he really isn’t even in the movie for very long. He plays a Predator-hunting hermit of sorts. There were bound to be a few bumps in the road. I’m pretty sure Fishburne is insane.
The plot was definitely nothing special. A group of Earth’s deadliest warriors are chosen by the predators as prey for their hunts. Scary jungle encounters ensue. I enjoyed predicting who would be the next character killed. I mixed #2 with #3, but otherwise guessed correctly. It wasn’t that hard. This is still an action movie, after all. It’s A LOT like the original, but with a more diverse cast (of stereotypes). There’s even a scene towards the end when the group is dwindling that is a direct homage to one of my favorite parts in the original. Two words: Billy, knife.
I’m not saying Predators is a must-see. It isn’t. There are definitely better ways to spend 100 minutes. But if you liked the Predator but were turned off by what followed (I’m guessing that describes a lot of people reading this blog), go ahead and see it. You’ll have a good time.
next week: Inception- Oh indeed, sons. In. Deed.