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Predators – A Summer Blockbuster or a Film?

July 16, 2010

There are some movies that my wife just will—not—go— see. Those movies are relegated to “Movie and a beer” night with the guys. These are nights where we go see a film, usually a sci-fi action horror thing, and we follow it up with the local pub after to discuss the artistic accomplishments and/ or pratfalls of the film. Last night we saw Predators. It actually had both accomplishments and pratfalls.

Everyone is raving about how this is the best sequel to the Predator franchise yet. I agree, but that might not be saying much.

Predators does what a Hollywood action movie requires in this day and age.  It hits the ground running with the first image we see being a man seemingly falling to his death. He had woken up in free fall not even having time to scream before his chute opens and he hits the ground.

Queue the action formula!

The action film formula is not something that I am against in any way shape or form. But you have to admit they are generally a bit obvious. These films (Alien, Predator, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Thing, Pandorum) , simply put, require a group of people to face an otherworldly menacing alien. One by one they are knocked off until the most interesting (or the actor with the highest salary) is left standing to live or die at the end. The climax and resolution depend on who gets final cut of the film. If the studio retains final cut, someone always lives, for the sake of a sequel and/or a franchise. If the director retains final cut, then it is almost always certain that everyone dies so the auteur horror sci-fi director can say something about society through his artsy alien horror film.

Pros: I experienced something during Predators that is very important to me during the summer movie season. Knee jerks! I love when a film actually makes me jump in my seat. There was one moment in Predators where a close encounter evoked such a response from me. It makes me feel like a little kid, because something on the screen featuring an alien on an alien world scared me. That is one of the primary reasons I love going to the movies! Being able to lose myself so much in a film, that is causes a physical reaction in me is in a word ‘Awesome.’

Cons: The characters very often spoke too literally. We were knee-deep in exposition for the majority of the film. Also, the quoting of Ernest Hemingway was painfully out-of-place. I understand how his writing, this quote, and The Most Dangerous Game influenced this film, but it is entirely unnecessary to refer to them. Does every Sci-fi Film audibly say “In Star Wars Luke Skywalker Defeated the evil Empire by straddling the line between light and dark, good and evil?” No, they don’t, because a film doesn’t need footnotes.:

Hemingway inspired Predators! Really! I read books too!

“Certainly there is no hunting like the hunting of man and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never really care for anything else thereafter. You will meet them doing various things with resolve, but their interest rarely holds because after the other thing ordinary life is as flat as the taste of wine when the taste buds have been burned off your tongue.” (from ‘On the Blue Water’ in Esquire, April 1936)

Robert Altman called "City of God" his favorite filn of the last ten years just prior to his death. How do I know that? I was there when he said it.

The cast of Predators was ridiculously over qualified. Any one of these actors can and has headlined a film. Adrien Brody, Oscar winner and character actor extraordinaire, got to show off his ‘superhero’ gravelly voice as he uttered clichéd action movie lines like “I’m taking the high ground” and exposition like “We were all brought here for the same purpose. The planet is a game preserve, and we’re the game.” However, Brody did bring a legitimacy to this film that a Stallone or Schwarzenegger never could have. Just having him attached made this a Film, not just a popcorn action flick. Along with Brody were Danny Trejo of every action film of the 90’s, Topher Grace from That 70’s Show, Alice Braga of one of my all-time favorites City of God , and the horribly miscast Laurence Fishburne of Othello and Nightmare on Elm St. 3 The Dream Warriors (it always comes back to Dream Warriors). Now this is just my opinion. Just because you can afford Laurence Fishburne, and his schedule is open, and he is willing to be in your film, doesn’t mean you should cast Laurence Fishburne. The culinary equivalent to Fishburne in Predators is going into McDonalds with a bottle of Chateau Lafite to wash down your McRib.

Larry, Larry, Larry--- You should be doing Shakespeare in the Park.

I was satisfied with Predators. Obvious as it is, It is a formula that I want in the summer. On those hot nights when you just want to get out of the heat and sit for two hours in the air conditioning while people scream and run in the forest for your entertainment. It’s rather perfect for that.

Script/ Story: Obvious but fun (C+)

Acting: Way above average for this type of film. Like MTV Moon-Man Award good… (B+)

Directing: Never got in the way but didn’t wow me either. Good action sequences but obviously over-influenced by Ridley Scott’s Alien. (C+) The cinematography was pretty beautiful though.


4 Comments leave one →
  1. apryllee permalink
    July 16, 2010 10:01 am

    “The culinary equivalent to Fishburne in Predators is going into McDonalds with a bottle of Chateau Lafite to wash down your McRib.” Hahahaha! And to add further insult, have Paul Giamatti drink it with a face full of rib sauce. (You know…like in “Sideways” with his 1961 Château Cheval Blanc, right, too much exposition. Sorry!)

    • July 16, 2010 1:47 pm

      Sideways. heh. “Are you chewing gum?” “No.” “Spit it out!”

  2. apryllee permalink
    July 16, 2010 10:01 am

    Also… Moon-Man! Teeheee.

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