Ever since I heard Robert Rodriguez was involved in a Predator project I have been excited. The synopsis and cast list for the film did not lessen my excitement. While I wasn’t familiar with everyone in the cast, Adrian Brody is one of my favorite actors. Add in Danny Tejo and Walt Goggins, two seriously underrated actors and it was pretty much a must see for me. Then add in two stunt men with an impressive resume, Brian Steele and Derek Mears as Predators and oh yeah, Topher Grace.
I was a bit put off when I learned Rodriguez was not directing the film. Still I was determined to watch Predators. Throwing away Predator 2 and the Alien vs. Predator series, the film acts as a direct sequel to the original Predator with Arnold. In it a group of killers, the worst of the worst, awaken on a strange plant and find themselves hunted by an invisible force. They come to realize they are on a hunting preserve, eventually coming face to face with the Predators.
Watching the movie Predators, probably the first problem I had with it was Adrien Brody. Like I mentioned earlier, I love Adrien Brody’s work, but I just could not see him as a tough guy. I can buy him as evil, even as sleazy, but I never bought his tough guy act in Predators. He seemed to take control of this group of killers way too easy. Effectively playing the Arnold character from Predator, his smirking and tough guy stares just didn’t replace Arnold’s commanding presence.
The final showdown between Brody and the Predator also left me wanting. I will say that Brody was in excellent physical shape but he just seemed too small to stand toe to toe with a Predator. I will credit the filmmakers for making Brody’s speed more of a factor than strength. Still Brody bare chested and covered in mud was a much less impressive scene than in the original. This didn’t kill the movie for me but it interrupt my immersion in the film.
The Topher Grace character bothered me at firstl. I knew from film previews that his character was a killer, so I kept expecting a reveal. For most of the film he just seemed to be playing the same character as from That 70s Show. It bothered me that he kept surviving and seemed to leech off the other characters. AS the movie was winding down and characters were dropping like flies I had given up on a reveal and had grown to think of him as just what he said he was. A doctor who didn’t fit in. There was very few clues in the film to his dark side and when he was finally revealed it was totally worth it. That one clue came back in a big way. I left very happy with Topher’s performance in the film.
It was awesome seeing Danny Trejo on the big screen in Predators. It was even sweeter since the film opened with a new preview for Machete, Trejo’s first starring role. I wish he had lasted a bit longer in the movie, but hopefully this will give him more exposure and allow him to star in more films. Walt Groggin’s character did get a lot of screen time in Predators. Playing a convicted killer, he was disturbingly funny. He also had a great heroic exit from the film.
The Predators themselves seemed more in line with the creatures from the classic Predator film. More of the feral growing, vicious Predator less of the kindly heroic Predator. Not that they were ever really good guys but the sequel and the AVP film series did water them down. Even the good guy “classic” Predator was more of the growling bad ass guy from the original film. The fight scene between the two Predators was awesome. I wasn’t sure I would like the idea of the two warring Predator factions, but it worked in the film.
Laurence Fishburne was almost a throw away character. Her was used mostly as a way to explain what was happening to the rest of the cast. His betrayal was pretty much expected from the first film trailer I had seen. Still I expected him to be working with the Predators. I like the fact the film did not go in this direction. As it was his scenes serve as an interlude to the main film and also sets up the ending.
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The choice of a jungle setting for Predators was a great choice. An obvious nod to the first film, it seems to bring the Predators back to their natural habitat. Thee skinning camp reminded us what the Predators are all about. The scenes inside the ship/drill were also wonderful. The cramped, dark corridors brought to mind the original Alien film. There was enough gore in the film to keep me happy, probably as much if not more than the original film. Not to give away the ending but it works to set up a sequel but also works for a stand alone film.
My overall impression of Predators? I really liked it. I think the film would have benefited more from Robert Rodriguez’s direction and a more physically imposing lead character. Still the cast pulled it through and Topher Grace really impressed me. The Predators were awesome to see onscreen again in all their vicious glory. I would rate the new Predators film between three and four stars, leaning heavily toward four.