Review: Predators Delivers a Tough and Exciting Jungle Trek
by Jeremy Kirk
July 12, 2010
Nimrod Antal's Predators is easily, without question, the second best film in the science fiction franchise. That might not be saying much for a series that began with one of the most innovative action films of the 1980s and has since dumped its iconic, titular character into a fray of misguided sequels and spin-offs and blasphemous crossovers. As memorable and as exquisitely crafted as the Predator character is, the movies it has inhabited haven't been living up to expectations ever since we were introduced to the "futuristic" world of 1997 Los Angeles in Predator 2. With this new Predators, though, we get taken back to the basics.
Take a rag-tag group of warriors, drop them in the jungle, and have them attempt to survive the attack of an alien hunter who can disguise itself like a chameleon. This time around, though, those warriors aren't comrades in arms, but killers from varying parts of the world. Adrien Brody plays Royce, a mercenary who becomes the de facto leader of the group. In the film's opening moments, quite literally before the title card presents itself, we see him falling through the air unconscious. He comes to, and a parachute slows his fall just enough to keep him alive after hitting the jungle ground.
Royce and the rest of the group, made up of people like a Yakuza hitman, and IDF sniper, a member of a drug cartel, etc, find one another, and it becomes quite clear very quickly they are not in their element. They are on an alien world, and something has brought them to this jungle planet for the sole purpose of hunting them. The strangers in this strange land must become a team and use their respective skills if they are to survive.
This is where Predators finds its first set-back. Where the connection among the members of the team in John McTiernan's 1987 original was undeniable, here there isn't even an attempt at forming such a bond. Much of the cast is pure fodder for the picking-off-one-by-one nature of the film. It's a minor problem in the first half of the film when all they are doing is trekking through the jungle and attempting to sort out who or what is hunting them.
Produced by Robert Rodriguez and directed by Nimrod Antal, the film's first half is stylish and polished trading in the McTiernan grain and grit for slick CG skylines and the best landscapes Hawaii has to offer. It doesn't really matter that we don't know much about any of these characters, since the action hits quickly and hard and offers some of the best B-movie thrills seen in a while. The periodic references from the '87 original thrown in and the "tough" dialog and quips straight out of the '80s catalog help hold your interest, as well. It isn't until 20 minutes or so in that we even get our first glimpse at one of the Predators or before there is any indication (other than the opening title) this is even a Predator movie. This is to the film's advantage, Antal and Rodriguez don't hide the alien from us, but it's not splashed across the screen from the very opening, either.
It doesn't seem to hit us how little there is to care about anyone until the clunky second half when Laurence Fishburne pops up as Mr. Exposition. His character is the biggest problem found in Predators, not so much that he exists. He plays a soldier who has previously been brought as part of the hunt. He has learned to survive and, for some reason, feels it his duty to help these new arrivals. It is at this point, where Fishburne's character takes the group back to his save haven for some rest and explanation, that the film falls off the proverbial cliff. His exposition, while somewhat necessary for the exciting third act and gives some interesting back story to the Predator's world, is handled so lazily and disjointedly it sucks the excitement the first half built up right out of the picture.
We are offered some character development in this section of the film, though. It's too little too late for most of them, but Brody's Royce and Alice Braga as the IDF sniper are allowed to evolve. They aren't exactly layered, but when compared to the paper thin characters the other actors (Topher Grace, Walton Goggins, Danny Trejo, et al. included) play, a single note is better than hardly any at all.
Antal's direction, particularly of the action, is hit-or-miss. Some of the scenes are fast-paced, evenly edited and offer enough chic to keep you honed in. Other scenes, one very cool scene in particular where the Yakuza assassin breaks out his katana blade for some hand-to-hand, alien swordplay, are shoddily framed and paced with very little enthusiasm to be found. Much of the film's third act is exhilarating and almost wins back any action lover's attention that was lost in the catacombs of Fishburne's near narration. It goes out on a high note (quite literally when considering the film's closing credit song, which will make any fan of McTiernan's original grin from ear to ear), and you almost forget the slogging you had to go through the 30 minutes prior. Almost.
Predators is an up-down-up adventure that takes unfamiliar approaches to some quite familiar territory. A long way from the film that began it all, it never transcends the B-level sci-fi action it is filled with. It even includes the obligatory open end for the possibility of sequelitis setting in. Who survives the Predators of the story is not something that is to be revealed here, but know that if the audience and their engrossment is to survive Predators the film, there is some serious jungle that has to be waded through.
Jeremy's Rating: 6 out of 10
Reader Feedback - 33 Comments
There just wasn't a chase. Nothing new that made the humans better than the Predator, still the same tricks and assumed methods of survival. What made the original so great was the slow and steady ways each combatant learned about and how to defeat their partner....this time out, it was exciting, but in the end, the hunt wasnt there, it was just a barrage. Fun....but needed to be smarter.
Voice of Reason on Jul 12, 2010
I agree #1...it was good...it just did'nt have that lasting effect I was looking for. It wasnt "sci-fi" enought imo....
Trey M on Jul 12, 2010
This movie kicked ass. Actually didn't see the Topher Grace twist coming. The original wasn't the epitome of acting and story but we all loved it. This one goes back to basics and does an excellent job. I know you guys have a job to do but I just wish people would judge action movies as such, an ACTION MOVIE. Maybe we need to get some of the Spike TV writers on here...
hbcupride.deco-printing.com on Jul 12, 2010
this is an awesome movie especially when compared to the AVP series....B+
ray on Jul 12, 2010
i agree with voice of reason on that it needed to be smarter, i think being on another planet, there is just so much more they could have done. the laurence fishbourne scene was too long and slowed everything down unnecessarily, although i liked his portrayal of the crazy soldier. The scene that really pissed me off was when they walked to the edge of the cliff and discovered they were on another planet, no one freaked out or even really seemed to care that much, as a director theres so much you could have done there, there wasnt enough fear, tears, people going insane! your on another fucking planet! there maybe no escape! why the hell don't you care???? anyone else thing the blood was crap looking? and the blue electric bolts they shot out was just cheesy fake, and the fire when they blew up the cave just looked soo unrealistic. anyway 2 1/2 stars for entertainment value
dave on Jul 12, 2010
The movie was fun... not much more and not much less. If you can go into the theater with the premise that this isnt going to be a mind boggling portrayal of story or acting, you can have fun too. Of course the flick has its problems... which movie involving a Predator sans 1987 doesnt? I couldnt understand how a mini gun doesnt saw the predadogs right in half. I don't like that Fishburn could cloak and was only a fly-by character like Segal tossed out the air-lock at the beginning of Executive Decision. The new "big jaw" predator was a bit of a reach too with his super digitized mask vision and spinning shoulder cannon. I also thought the ending had a slight hint of pepper-jack, obviously setting up a sequel. Yes, there are flaws. But what the movie is after its conclusion... fun and entertaining. You just can't go into it thinking its going to be the American Beauty of a Predator franchise. Comment #5: How would it look to have the "baddest men/women of the world" crying at the site of a strange skyline? A man who macheted arms in a Sierra Leone death squad should cry? I'm not sure that would help the movie.
CeaYoung on Jul 12, 2010
it would look crippiling, thats the point! they are the baddes men/ woman in the world and look wha its doing to them! maybe not tears but a bit of fear and anxiety would'nt go a miss. i also think there were bits were the music was just shit and not half suspensful enough
dave on Jul 12, 2010
Dude, please! This movie fails, admit it. I saw it Friday with my nephew, we were both deeply disappointed , it was like attending a funeral. Nimrod is a respectable director, watch his movie Kontroll on netflix, but this, Rodriguez craped all over he had no chance.
Vic on Jul 12, 2010
This movie wasn't that great..... and the action was lame. The predators never seemed more than some dude's in crappy costumes running around.... seriously. And again... the action was terrible. The best sequence in the whole movie was the predator dogs, and it wasn't even good. Super disappointed with this movie.
ChazzyO on Jul 12, 2010
i will say this, i enjoyed the movie. i think brody did a great job, and i think the action was there. it was exactly what it was billed to be, an action sci-fi movie. at this point though, the predator isnt a "scary monster" anymore, but rather an opponent and competition for our great warriors, if this reboot was to be true, it would reinvent the predator to be feared again, and not just a solider from another planet.
AC on Jul 12, 2010
My main problem with this movie was that the actors were horrible, not really the acting, but trying to see Paul Rueben(Pee Wee) as an action star, I mean Adrien Brody. Plus the Predators, the main draw for everyone, took a back seat to a poor cast, the best Character or the one that people felt for was Topher Grace and even at the end who cared. I'll admit I was entertained but this wasnt better than the first two predator films and maybe slightly better than AVP, but its definetly a let down.
Chase on Jul 12, 2010
I thought it wasn't too bad 7ish out of 10, but could have done more
David on Jul 12, 2010
This movie redeemed the franchise imo. It's the closest to what my Predator dream movie would be... just a bunch of Predators running around killing each other on one of their planets with maybe a tiny cast of humans caught in the middle.
Demtor on Jul 12, 2010
i commented on a previous review page on this site, but I'll state my mind-grapes here: As bad as this summer's lineup has been, Predators & A-team so far have been arguably the best movies to see in an otherwise Sequel-retread-reboot-filled couple of months. As a kid I loved the A-team as the ultimate heroes who saved the day and I remembered having Nightmares about Predator and how he Ruthlessly slaughtered 'the good guys' in a suspenseful jungle-setting and ultimately the horror that ensued. I note that because those memories are what I took from the 80's as an impressionable, yet highly entertained kid. Did those movies live up to what I remembered about each franchise and that initial impression that they left on me? No way. Heck, seeing the originals in my late 20's doesnt even bring that back. And like the A-team in June, Predators DID do the franchise justice in capturing a few of the elements that made the originals (in our fanboy minds) great. Realistically it's a solid 7 (7.5-8 if you're drunk with your buddies), on par with 2 (but not better in my mind). If you're a fan of the franchise, go see it. It'll remove the bitter taste of the AVP sludge. ...and it definately DID save the summer.
Solo Calrissian on Jul 12, 2010
my main problem was how it was written. 1. 20min in we have a character tell the group how Arnold defeated the first predator by covering him self up with cold mud to become invisible to the creatures thermal vision. non of them cover them self's with mud or try to keep cool the ENTIRE movie. 2. they were going somewhere sweet with the idea of "lets hunt the predators" but that idea slowly fades away and suddenly the plan changes to a very un-original over done "lets find that ship" sort of movie. 3. the action was not good at all... the dogs, the crashed ship scene, the end... all very short & crappy action scenes that we have either seen before in the first installment or don't care to see because 2 predators are fighting each other and we don't know why (i hate movies when 2 like monsters come face to face for there final battle ex:"Wolfman") 4. to much comedy. & 5. for being a squeal to the original it sure did steal ALOT (almost every scene) from the original. but unlike say... "Aliens" where the plot is completely new and we are introduced to a new creature through the plot Predators rushed in the new, and almost forced out all the old. I really didn't enjoy the movie, and i don't blame Nimrod because the directing was pretty decent. I don't blame the actors because although Brody is no Arnold he and his crew did a pretty good job. But... i blame the fuck out of Alex Litvak and Michael Finch for an un original, Jumbled mess of a plot for this sequel. 1.5/5
DoomCanoe on Jul 12, 2010
the avp movies were crap, so i wouldnt even compare this to those, and only 6/10 but second best in the franchise? id even give predator 2 atleast 7/10
harrison on Jul 12, 2010
Great movie. Very entertaining. Good acting? check. Good action? check. Interesting storyline? check. Is it going to win an oscar? no of course not. It's an action movie. It did what it was supposed to do. I think i might actually go and see this a second time.
VOLD on Jul 12, 2010
7 out of 10
Nick S. on Jul 12, 2010
6 out of ten an he said it was the 2nd best sci fi flic kever!
the critic on Jul 12, 2010
schlocky action summer fare, 6.5/10 deffo worth a watch if your into this sort of thing just for the katana fight. A bit more characterisation would of been nice though.
matt on Jul 13, 2010
So they drop humans off on a different planet, yet one of them knows the plant species and the poison that plant carries and it's effects on humans? How may I ask? Love everything PREDATOR, except this piece of shit. No blood, might as well have been PG-13, Predator actors were lame as hell, CGI sucked ass, battle scenes were shot poorly. What a mess and let down for us fans. Alice Braga was the only nice part. Adrien Brody, yikes, good career move pal. Lawrence Fishburn, geezus! That was embarrassing!
chrisbo on Jul 13, 2010
**Spoilers** I agree with #15 DoomCanoe The script is the main reason why this movie isn't great. Despite the obvious love and effort there is to make this a worthy sequel of Predator, the movie comes across as a fan film and not a cool extension of the predator universe and solid story in its own right. There was time taken to set up the characters but most of them were not particularly interesting characters. Really, that convict on death row was one of the most dangerous killers on the planet and deserved a place on that planet? Adrien Brody decides not to go on the ship why? What creates his change of heart? There's not even say a scream from the chick that kicks in the guilt at that moment. He just changes without a real reason. The action wasn't great. Action set pieces are supposed to be cool. Not two predators rolling around the ground. There was really no good action in the film. And when we meet Laurence Fishburne the film comes crashing to a halt. Boring. Exposition that we could do without. I really wanted to like it. There are some good nods when the film isn't blatantly copying the original film. But it just wasn't fun to watch and that is all it really had to be. There were a few good bits - Predator's getting decapitated are always fun to watch - but mostly it was pretty unfun. Damn.
SV7 on Jul 13, 2010
....it was bad....not going to sugar coat it. About 15 min in I was like "oh no.." I was expecting so much more from Troublemaker and the Rodriguez clan. Nothing new brought the table except what you've already seen in the trailer. The F/X and sound were bad also. What gives? The only thing I liked about it was the yakuza character. Fishburne acting was horrible. Uber disappointed with this film.
1544K on Jul 13, 2010
Great review. Completely agree. I'm incredibly sad that they picked this particular weekend to go up against Despicable Me & the Twilight stragglers, course, I guess those demographics aren't really the target audience. I don't think a $24m domestic opening weekend is going to cut it for a sequel though. May go see again.
bozo on Jul 13, 2010
I loved it, but that is because this has been a really disappointing summer for action movies. Lawrence Fishburn was so badly miscast it was comical. How was he so fat if he'd been marooned on that planet for 10 years? I will say the shoulder guns not blowing people apart was upsetting and there were too many direct copies from the first movie.
Jim Bachman on Jul 13, 2010
I saw it last night and thought it was good. It has a good concept and it's certainly better than the AvP films but it did have an air of predictability to it. It needed a real kick arse action scene in it, which I guess is why they put the pred dogs in it but you has this gnawing feeling that you were aware of how quickly or slowly they would kill off the members of the team or the predators. In the first you had the big action scene to kill loads at the camp and then the predator picked them all off, in predator 2 you had the pred killing off loads of human and in AvP (which i'm not defending) you had either humans, aliens or preds being killed. It felt like, to me, that I could feel how they couldn't afford to kill off a pred here or a human there. And please, the doctor was so unnecesary. Have a medic along to patch up the wounded prey but to have gone to the effort of selecting a criminal that has even been caught indicates that the preds would have gone way too far in securing some 'fresh meat'. Obviously it couldn't touch Predator and I don't think it was as good as Predator 2. I'm disappointed that in the reviews & interviews they are trying to have this running straight after the 1st and ignore the 2nd one. Although Predator 2 isn't great (Maria Conchita Alonso's acting is probably the worst ever committed to film) it does still have some stand out scenes - the penthouse massacre, King Willy in the alley, Glover's dismissive face-clap, the subway shoot out and the abbatoir attack. Predators had one, maybe two. So it could be worth checking out, does have some tension and is entertaining but if I had a choice of what to watch again over a pizza I'd still go Predator 1 or 2. PS. The film company really does need to be sued or reprimanded for the blatantly misleading trailer. It shows Brady at the end standing on top of the windswept ship with about 10 red dot targets appearing on his body. At that actual moment in the film there are only two preds left! If they can have a go at computer games for pretending to show 'actual game footage', showing deliberately false scenes, is a little naughty in my book.
Payne by name on Jul 13, 2010
*spoilers* ok..am i the only one who gives a shit about decent acting? the first 30 minutes were cool. Indeed i thought i will enjoy this movie but hey..here comes nutter Fishbourne and from there to the finish...a load of crap. cmon...this movie could have been awesome if those predators would hunt all of them one by one from start to finish not put shit like: 1) fishbourne character had killed 2..maybe 3 predators, he has the cloacking suit...and yet he dies like an idiot. 2) the rapist nutter gets to change his mind, going "good" and almost killing a predator with a ..knife?...wtf 3) the way the predators move... the ridiculous amount they take to kill Brody for example...COME ON. it just pisses me off how easy they got to kill them. Look at the first one, and how much Arnie tried to kill a Predator. Now look at this movie. really..is this a god damn joke? am i the only idiot who realises this movie had potential and it could have been done way cooler in the same budget.
Manny on Jul 13, 2010
Fishburne's character was only there to add the backstory of WHY they were there. We didnt really get to "know" any of the characters in this movie before they were picked off. Topher Grace's character was obvious from the get go. Saw it a mile away. I didnt really like the whole "blood feud" between 2 different species of Predators. The only thing about Brody (which was easily predictable) about not getting on the ship was that he may have thought that the other predator had control of the ship. Should have possibly shown more of that. They also should have made him keep his shirt on. Apparently mud on your body hides heat but if you wear pants, you dont need mud.
VanMan on Jul 13, 2010
Wasn't bad. Enjoyable enough...
Crapola on Jul 13, 2010
i think fishburne did some of the best acting in there.....
Brian Barajas on Jul 13, 2010
Why is it the preview always makes the movie look fantastic but when you watch the damn thing it's a huge let down? I watched it tonight and found the movie to be slow and only really have two proper action sequences. The rest of it was a little ho-hum. This movie has great potential but it failed to impress.
Ezza on Jul 16, 2010
Awful awful movie, another action movie with 1 action scene. Only time I was interested was when Fishburne was on screen, but of course he wouldn't be in this steaming pile for more than 10 minutes.
carlos on Aug 2, 2010
Saw it last nite with some friends-who all are true Predator(1987) fans. We liked this new flick, but felt it borrowed/stole too much from the original and that it could have been more exciting. Stole as in almost down to same lines/scenes/music at the same time. That and its too short. Length matters. Yes, I guess its that last part, it could have been more exciting. Arnold vs Predator was pretty nerverecking(as a kid) this wasnt so much. There are 2 ppl in this cast I feel are misplaced, a convict(on deathrow??) and a "doctor". Really? Predators are watching us all? And know where the most vile human killers are at all times? Those two are too far fetched for me, the Predators would not have picked up the convict and the doc without detection of us humans. Unless....there is a concpiracy here, in Predator 2, the gov. was in on the game... Somehow, we will see a...6th Predator film-if u count them all in-in a few years, direct to DVD....hopefully with an original idea?
David Banner on Aug 12, 2010
Sorry, new comments are no longer allowed.