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Overall Rating
3

Awesome: 8.82%
Worth A Look: 32.35%
Just Average: 14.71%
Pretty Crappy38.24%
Sucks: 5.88%

3 reviews, 16 user ratings



Predators
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by Peter Sobczynski

"LeBron To Join WNBA--Wants To Stress Fundamentals!"
2 stars

I would like to begin my review of “Predators,” the long-gestating sequel/reboot of the 1987 sci-fi cult favorite “Predator,” by asking a simple and perhaps naïve question--why would anyone voluntarily choose to devote their time and energy to the task of trying to revive a franchise as utterly moribund as this one? Yes, I understand that virtually every reasonably well-known film from the Eighties has either already been subjected to a sequel/remake/revamp or currently has one on the boards but in most of those cases, the originals were more or less beloved by a wide audience while the “Predator” films were exactly masterpieces in their time and haven’t exactly aged gracefully over the last couple of decades. The first one was a solidly made B-movie that had a few good ideas and proved that up-and-coming director John McTiernan could handle an action film (which he proved demonstrably the next year with the classic “Die Hard”) but for the most part, it paled in comparison to such authentic genre masterpieces released that same summer as “The Untouchables” and “Robocop.” 1990 saw the release of “Predator 2” but outside of some fluky casting choices (what else can you say about a film that combines the talents of Bill Paxton, Gary Busey and Morton Downey Jr.?) and an offhand in-joke that would inspire two of the worst movies ever made, the film was little more than a formulaic series of explosions masquerading as a story that proved so dismal that even the loyal fans of the original stayed away in droves.

After that one detonated at the box office, there was some discussion about a third installment--Robert Rodriguez was even hired to write a screenplay draft for one in the flush of his initial success with “El Mariachi” and “Desperado”--but aside from the “Alien vs. Predator” spin-offs, about which we will say no more, there was no real interest in reviving the franchise and I don’t think that any of us was the worse off as a result. However, someone at Fox apparently decided that the public was once again clamoring for another chapter of the saga and as a result, “Predators” is now playing at a theater near you. It would be nice to report that the series has finally pulled itself out of the bag with a new take on the story that vastly improves on the original while remaining attractive to old fans and newcomers alike but I am sad to say that is not the case here. While the film is nowhere near as bad as such abominations as the “Alien vs. Predator” films, it doesn’t even rise to the modest heights of the original and while it may be better than “Predator 2,” the difference in quality between the two is slight enough to be too negligible to notice.

Adrien Brody stars as Royce, a loner soldier-of-fortune who, as the film opens, finds himself plunging through the sky in free fall and landing in a mysterious wooded area. Before long, he happens upon seven other people who have also arrived in the area under similar circumstances, including Israeli sharpshooter Isabelle (Alice Braga), Russian soldier Nikolai (Oleg Taktarov), mad-dog killer Stans (Walton Goggins), drug cartel enforcer Cuchillo (Danny Trejo) and, oddly enough, mild-mannered doctor Edwin (Topher Grace). Royce quickly figures out that they are in the middle of some kind of game preserve and that they are to be the hunted instead of the hunters but it is only when the group runs across Noland (Laurence Fishburne), the lone survivor of a previous hunt, do they realize exactly what they are up against. It turns out that they are on a distant planet that is used as a training ground for Predators, a fierce and highly skilled tribe of hunters that resemble the possible issue of a union between Elvis Mitchell and the thing in the pit in “Return of the Jedi” and who bring in the most talented killers from throughout the universe so as to help them hone their already considerable combat skills. Before long, the hunt is officially on and our heroes have to figure out a way to stay alive and outwit the Predators and their hi-tech weaponry before they all get picked off.

Despite never having been much of a fan of the previous entries in the “Predator” franchise, the presence of Robert Rodriguez as producer (the script he wrote once upon a time was apparently not used at all) and up-and-comer Nimrod Antal as director had me holding out a little bit of hope that this one might be good. Rodriguez’s movies, at least the ones aimed at adults, usually contain a lot of energy and inventiveness and while Antal’s output to date has been admittedly uneven (the quirky cult oddity “Kontroll,” the terrible motel invasion potboiler “Vacancy” and the better-than-it-had-to-be crime film “Armored”), they have all shown him to be a filmmaker who knows how to make slick and stylish entertainment--if ever there were two people who seemed capable of joining forces to make a decent movie out of this material, they would appear on paper to be the perfect duo. Unfortunately, neither one seems to have brought their A game to this project and the result is a surprisingly dull and draggy slog through material that we have seen countless times before without anything to juice things up. The storyline is basically a rehash of the first film (like most of the rest of the world, it pretty much pretends that “Predator 2” and the “Alien vs. Predator” films never existed) with the only key difference being a last-minute reveal about one of the characters that couldn’t be more predictable if it tried. The characters are flat, remote and never worth rooting for and while the presence of people like Brody, Grace and Fishburne in straightforward action roles might seem like intriguing casting, it winds up feeling as though they were cast mostly because they were the only ones willing to sign on to do it. (Fishburne, for example, seems to have been included solely to supply one lame “Apocalypse Now” in-joke.) The pacing is surprisingly sluggish throughout--it takes forever for the action to kick in and once it does, the big set-pieces are staged in such a listless manner that they make you long for the comparatively lively approach utilized by “Predator 2.” As for the final scenes, this is yet another film that spends so much of the final reels setting up potential sequels that it forgets to provide the story it is currently telling with a satisfying resolution. “Predators” may not be a disaster along the lines of “The Last Airbender” but it is pretty much a bore throughout and that is one word that you rarely see applied to descriptions of deadly interstellar games of cat and mouse.

If “Predators” does nothing else--and believe me, it really doesn’t--it finally confirm once and for all something that I have long suspected about the Predators and that is the fact that their reputation as fearsome and cunning hunters is largely unwarranted. As in the previous films, their training consists largely of targeting a group of unsuspecting people without any sort of advance warning or explanation, stalking them with devices that allow them to become invisible at the drop of a hat and hunting them down with highly advanced weaponry that is light-years ahead of whatever meager armaments they are able to acquire for themselves. To further tip the scales in their favor, they now take away the one advantage that their opponents might have had--the home field advantage--by transplanting them to a hunting ground where they presumably are familiar with the lay of the land instead of going after them in unfamiliar terrain. With advantages like these, it is no wonder that they are able to rack up the big numbers but it is kind of like declaring yourself an expert on a videogame without ever going beyond the beginner level.

Additionally, their choice in prey also betrays a certain laziness as well. In the first film, the Predator went up against Arnold Schwarzenegger in his 80’s-era prime, about as fair of a fight as one could hope for under the circumstances. In “Predator 2,” Danny Glover was humanity’s representative and while he was no Schwarzenegger, he still seemed tough enough to give the creatures a run for their money. This time around, however, the allegedly toughest warriors in the galaxy are pitting themselves against Adrien Brody and even though he has clearly beefed up hi physique for this particular role, the sight of a Predator going up against The Pianist does not exactly set the blood racing. Frankly, it looks as though the Predators just aren’t trying anymore and are instead merely content to coast on their reputations by going up against creampuff competitors. Then again, I guess this is appropriate since “Predators” as a whole doesn’t seem to be trying too hard either.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=19919&reviewer=389
originally posted: 07/09/10 00:18:43
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User Comments

9/14/17 morris campbell pretty good better than alien vs preadtor crap movies 4 stars
1/07/16 David Hollingsworth pretty bad 1 stars
1/21/12 Rahul ( aka ol' Painless ) Good Movie 5 stars
9/10/11 Captain00Kirk Good Predator movie! 4 stars
6/25/11 millersxing what's next...predator vs. sharks with laser beams attached to their heads? 3 stars
5/15/11 stephen nettles The Predator is back baby! 4 stars
2/02/11 Richard79 A sequel to J. McT's classic made with respect, unlike Die Hard 4. Thx Nimrod. 4 stars
11/01/10 mr.mike Surprisingly lacking in gore - and action for that matter. 3 stars
10/24/10 Langano Worst piece of @#%! I've seen in a while. Doesn't even deserve 1 star. 1 stars
10/23/10 porfle Fairly entertaining in a direct-to-video type of way. 3 stars
10/22/10 gc a decent movie, but more or less a re-make of the original 3 stars
9/30/10 Fred boring, lacking quality, made by the numbers 2 stars
7/21/10 AJ Muller They need to make more like this; asskickin, straight up actioners old school style. 5 stars
7/12/10 Steve0 The whole team could have hidden from the Predators iinside Adrien Brody's nose 3 stars
7/11/10 M 1 of thebetter remakes out there, but what the hell were they thinking with Adrien brody??! 4 stars
7/10/10 Alex If you actually watched the whole movie then it's clear why topher's character was there 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  09-Jul-2010 (R)
  DVD: 19-Oct-2010

UK
  N/A

Australia
  09-Jul-2010


Directed by
  Nimród Antal

Written by
  Michael Finch
  Alex Litvak
  Robert Rodriguez

Cast
  Adrien Brody
  Topher Grace
  Alice Braga
  Walton Goggins



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