Friday, July 16, 2010

Review: Predators

Robert Rodriguez's Predators has been in the Action Direct cross-hairs for quite some time now. I personally have been quite apprehensive about the newest installment to the Predator franchise after having been brutally let down by AVP in the summer of 2004. Read on for a review of Predators (spoilers ensue, so beware).

There are far fewer examples of successful reboots in recent history than failed ones. And I for one am happy to say that Predators falls on the successful side of that all too hazy line.

Predators succeeds by transparently and unabashedly riding the coattails of the original film. Set in an alien jungle which is more than reminiscent of the Guatemalan selva of the original, the cast of this story is literally dropped into the film with little to no introduction. But who needs one? The audience, who by the way just paid $11 to watch a movie called "Predators", is presented with a squad of misfits carrying guns (one of which is a mini-gun) and walking through the forest. We immediately know exactly what to expect from this movie, and I for one was more than pleased when it delivered. Homages abound in this film; from Arnie style deadfalls and booby-traps to the lone guatemalan woman in the movie supplying folklore about el diablo que hace trofeos del hombre. It was like coming home.

Furthermore, Predators goes ahead and delivers us a couple of twists (but not so many as to deviate from what we are already comfortable with). I thought that hinting at a feud between different predator tribes was excellent. Not only that, it was genius to have the original predator species (ie the "ugly mother-fucker" from Predator) be the one dangling from a ceremonial predator obelisk. An unseasoned Predator fan might not realize that this is actually the predator of old, and that the ones hunting Adrien Brody et al are something different. Those of us in the audience who spent their formative years watching and re-watching two of our would-be and one of our wannabe American governors trek through the jungle felt like we were part of a little secret, and smiled inwardly for having been let in on it.

Lastly, I have to say (and I've spoked to a few who strongly agree) that the fight between the Yakuza gangster and the predator peon was epic. How many of you would have ever guessed that a predator would respect the laws of kinjitsu? I will say little more except that I never would in a million years have expected this fight scene to work. On paper it sounds absurd, but on the silver screen.... classic.

Okay, okay. I know that some of you are not the ardent action-fans and loyal subjects to the B-film throne as I am. And I will admit that there are a couple of flaws here. A buddy of mine noted that since Batman Begins, there have been a couple of actors who have (unsuccessfully) tried to replicate Bale's raspy, yet badass, tone. Adrien Brody has sadly joined these ranks. And some might say that Predators was a little too much like the original, and this may very well be the case. But one needs to remember something when watching a movie like Predators: this is a movie about an alien species that hunts humans for sport and that originally starred a former body-builder who is now the governor of California. View it through this lens and you will assuredly enjoy yourself...

Post-Script: I should have mentioned in here that Rodriguez did not actually direct this movie, although he did write the script. Predators was directed by Nimrod Antal of Armored fame


Sean Ferrell said...

Excellent review. I am honored to have been abstrusely mentioned in the post.

I don't have a problem with Brody's voice. It's never distracting, and not terribly different from the way he usually speaks.
It reminds me of the criticism that some actors, like Colin Ferrell, get for their 'ineffective' accents, only to discover that they have used an accent on every project except the one in question. I think it's a bullshit criticism.
It's mud that's too easy to sling, and impossible to prove.
Again, a great review. Nice to hear what Action Direct thinks about it.

Casey said...

Abstruse is what I do.