Thursday, December 9, 2010

Predator series

Predator (1987) * * *1/2

Cast:Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Bill Duke, Jesse Ventura, R.G Armstrong, Kevin Peter Hall

Directed by John McTiernan

A macho CIA Rescue unit led by Schwarzenegger and Weathers, end up doing battle with an intergalactic hunter who sees them as big game, and in the process starts picking off the commandos one by one. Predator is of course a classic of the genre but it’s not for the action as much as it is for the suspense. Certainly the macho element provides a great focal point as such starts to crumble in the face of a new challenger but nobody seems to remember how suspenseful the narrative is, one great touch for instance is that we don’t see the Predator until the end. Indeed it’s hard to believe that this was once not only a great action flick but also a great Sci-Fi flick. Predator is really no different than Aliens via Most Dangerous Game but Schwarzenegger and Co. really kick this into high gear. The Predator is an excellent creation and the final fight sequences where Schwarzenegger relies on booby traps and Rambo-like survival tactics to draw the Predator out is as good as action movies get, and in terms of suspense you really can’t go wrong with Predator.

Predator 2 (1990) * * *

Cast: Danny Glover, Gary Busey, Maria Conchita Alonzo, Bill Paxton, Ruben Blades, Robert Davi, Adam Baldwin, Morton Downey Jr.

Directed by Stephen Hopkins

Predator 2 features Danny Glover as a super cop in L.A where Jamaican drug lords and Colombian drug lords battle it out in a war zone which of course attracts everyone’s favorite alien hunter making it a 4 way battle between the cops, gangs and the new player in the game. Predator 2 isn’t quite as good as the original (the suspense just isn’t as sharp) but this overly maligned sequel is far better than most made out at the time. The most effective element is that it’s more of a rip off of Robocop/Mad Max in a lot of ways. Indeed the backdrop is effectively gritty and for the most part Predator 2 is well paced, and features some exciting moments and Glover makes for a vulnerable hero. If anything else Glover recalls a Blaxploitation flick great like Fred Williamson and with that element taking on the Predator, there are some good stakes being played. The thing is Glover is very good in the role, without Glover’s strong presence, Predator 2 would falter but thanks to Glover’s charisma Predator 2 makes for a likable outing. Another thing in Predator 2’s favor is that the good cast sells the concept, Gary Busey in particular provides great back up as the rogue FBI agent trying to capture the Predator, indeed Predator 2 would’ve benefited from a better ending and more explanation as to how the city got to be a war zone, but overall this is the second best of the series and is a worthy if not always successful sequel.

Predators (2010) * * *

Cast: Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, Alice Braga, Laurence Fishbourne, Danny Trejo, Oleg Taktarov, Louis Ozawa Changchien

Directed by Nimrod Antal

This time a group of anonymous people wake up on Predator Island, where they are systematically hunted, however the predators have hand picked their prey as the game feature mercenaries, snipers, serial killers, rapists, drug lords and a slew of crazies, meanwhile a slew of predators pick the characters off one by one. Surprisingly this sequel ends on a rather downbeat note. Predators does feature a somewhat miscast Adrien Brody (who looks like Roy Scheider at times) but Changchien, Trejo and Braga work well in the role. Topher Grace is another huge gaping miscasting, especially since he is armed with a scalpel and 100 lbs at most. Indeed he isn’t going to do much damage against predators, also the film follows the original a little too much as the Predator planet is too similar in look to the one in the first. Also Laurence Fishbourne’s character seems too shoehorned in and doesn’t play that good of a role other than to provide yet another obstacle for our heroes. That said there are some good touches such as the tracking dogs, the action is well staged and in fact quite suspenseful. The real problem is that the Predators themselves are such bad asses that you have to put them up against someone like Arnold (Or at least Danny Glover) Brody and Co. are just not nearly as believable as prey that Arnold and Danny were. That said, the movie is relatively enjoyable, it’s just that this could’ve been and should’ve been better.


  1. My buddy and I were talking about this the other day, and I'm glad you gave Predator 2 its due, because few do that. For us, part 1 is only better than part 2 because it has Arnold, who just kills it. Otherwise, I love the idea of having Glover essentially as his Lethal Weapon character outlasting a Predator, as opposed to using brute strength and military prowess. Also, a quick note on the future LA, that stemmed from this mindset that LA was becoming too controlled by gangs at the time, so there was no need for a backstory, because the headlines were supposed to provide that.

    This newest one was pretty blah as far as I was concerned until the last 30 minutes or so, when they really went for it. Brody is an interesting casting choice, because I think he pulled it off-- he is an Oscar winning actor, after all-- but he didn't have the "it" factor Schwarzenegger and Glover had, which was what made those two films classics.

  2. I liked Brody in Predators because he was a tactician. This was an interesting departure from having an Arnold-esque hero that's (almost) all brawn. Brody watched the Predators hunt and learned their movements before trying to fight them. That, and the awesome samurai/Predator fight more than made up for the film's various shortcomings.