Not perfect, but a step in the right direction for Predators

I, and many I suspect, have been waiting for a proper sequel to the 1987 classic Predator to arrive for some time. After one failed attempt, though loved on a cult level with 1990’s Predator 2 and those two atrocious versus films, which won’t be named has producer Robert Rodriquez pulled together all the proper elements to create a proper sequel to the eighties original?

Predators feels as much a stand alone film as it does a sequel/reboot to the series. No previous viewing of the franchise is needed going in. For the record the studio is officially billing it as a sequel and there is brief reference made to the first film. If your fresh to the series, I recommend watching the first and by-passing the rest, though doing so is far from a requirement prior to seeing Predators.

Predators is based on a story from a script written by Rodriquez that FOX had shelved some fifteen years ago. The screen writing credit goes to relative new comers Alex Litvak, whose only other listed writing credit on IMDB is the pre-production The Three Musketeers and Michael Finch’s lone writing credit. The directing duties were handled by Nimrod Antal (Armored 2009).

I know the fan base, including I was pretty intrigued if not outright confused by the seemingly odd casting choice of Adrien Brody for the lead human role in the film. Thankfully, Brody works well in his role as the modern day mercenary Royce. He looks more like the modern solider than the pumped up commandos of the original film. He also takes the reluctant lead role of the rag tag group we are introduced to as they each plummet from the sky. Military types, gangsters, murderers and the lone doctor make up the group. The group attempts to fill in the blanks of how they all arrived at the same destination. What follows is a fairly high tension period where the group attempts  to get their bearings and realize that they are going to have to work together to make it through this ordeal alive once they realize what they are truly up against, and exactly where they are.

This also begins the point in the film where a bit of my patience was tried. It becomes overly apparent in the early goings, that this film is meant as an homage to the original film. While this is welcomed, it becomes a bit of a mixed blessing as it almost feels too eerily similar to the original 1987 film. Very familiar musical cues are sprinkled into the score. There is a character with a giant Gatling gun, the wise female of the group, poor dialog, more similar weapons, hey isn’t that the same Predator from the first movie? It’s all here in Predators. This isn’t to say this is a remake, far from it, it’s just that some of the homages were a little obvious for my taste.

There are several things that Predators does do to stand alone, differentiate, and make itself a sequel. A couple of new species are introduced to the Predators cannon. I’m keeping this review spoiler free but if you have seen any of the previews you have seen at least one of these species. They also have an interesting moral play on the title and characters. As the viewer realizes, that the rag tag group that has been put together are Predators themselves. This later leads to some interesting character choices and trust issues among the group, as some may not seem exactly as they appear or lead on. If not already obvious, there is more than one Predator in the film, similar to 1986’s Aliens featuring many an Alien as compared to the lone one in the first. This was another intentional nod Rodriquez worked into the film.

Overall I am mixed on the results. I enjoyed a particular battle scene toward the climax of the film, which serves as sort of two homages at once, one to the first Predator film, the second to samurai films/battles. When Laurence Fishburne’s Noland finally shows up in the film I was a bit let down to see that he served as a hurry up/catch up for the story and didn’t seem to serve much other purpose, and is treated as much so in the film. Part of me nearly feels this entire part of the film could have been taken out or cut down to help speed up the proceedings. That isn’t to say that the film feels long, though it doesn’t feel as tight as it could be. Also for as many homages as this film has to the first film and the Predator species I was a bit let down that their hunting code of letting those “not of sport” was excised from the film and story as it is something I always found of interest in them. Though that is more of a fan boys nitpick than an actual criticism of the film.

Did Fox and Rodriquez succeed in making the Predator sequel I had always wanted? Though I may seem to be rather down on the film, overall I have to say yes. I didn’t love it, and it has it’s problems but it’s a great start in the right direction I hope to see the series continue to take.

I give Predators 3 “was that a nod to THAT film?” out of 5

One side note I wanted to include about my particular screening of Predators. I don’t usually throw my hat into the whole digital projection vs film debate (does that even really exist anymore?) Though there is one scene in Predators where the digital projection system I saw it on was brought to its knees and looked TERRIBLE, so much so my notes read “wow digital projector got schooled during flare scene.” First time I had really seen a Sony 4k project brought to it’s knees where I could see actual blocks and terrible contrast in the image. Thus I may recommend seeking out a theater that is projecting Predators in film, though any more it’s hard to know who is and isn’t since most have gone digital these days.

By John Coovert

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