Okay, so I actually went to the theatre and watched this (I’m a big fan of the first Predator and mildly enthusiastic about Predator 2 – it’s got a lot of camp value), and I didn’t see a thread (it’s not attached to the film at least) on it, so here it is.
First of all, the film was based on a script written by Robert Rodriguez (though, to his credit, it seems to have been rewritten, according to the credits) awhile ago and the film contains all the ‘trademarks’ (or rather, bad habits) of Rodriguez’s writing. Rodriguez often writes, directs, edits, and composes the music for most of his films. Rodriguez is a jack of all trades and master of none, and when one can view these separately you can really tell how lackluster (often filled with great, but poorly executed, ideas) his ‘vision’ truly is. As a director, it’s clear he has a vision, but somewhere along the way it always gets marred. In this film though, he only provided the foundation (perhaps more) to the general story of Predators, so I’m not going to mention RR again in this post.
The film begins with Adrian Brody freefalling, his parachute automatically ejecting, and him slamming into the ground of a vast jungle – this is immediately followed by the PREDATORS title screen, which I thought was a great start. We have abruptness and mystery to start off with – not bad. Eventually others characters begin landing and after some extremely cliched dialogue, decide to stick together and find a way out of the jungle.
Now, let me get Adrian Brody out of the way here. I’m of the opinion that he’s a fine actor – not incredible, not a great actor, but usually can be depended upon to act with at least a modicum of feeling. He’s also pretty eclectic in his choice of films (Polanski’s The Pianist, Anderson’s Darjeeling Limited, Brothers Bloom, Jackson’s King Kong, etc.), so I appreciate that. However (you knew this was coming didn’t you), despite Brody’s valient attempts to deliver terribly-written lines, he was not a suitable choice for his role in this film. The sound mixer obviously brought out the ‘thunder’ in Brody’s voice (similar to Bale in The Dark Knight), and this becomes grating after awhile. Plus, there’s a part where Brody is covered in mud (sound familiar) in order to fool one of the predators, yelling, “Kill me! Kill me now!” – there are a lot of scenes that mirror the original almost obsessively; similar angles, situations, even the same lines at times! It’s strange and ineffective.
One major flaw in this film is that events occur illogically and without explanation. However, I did like the idea of a predator being held captive by his own race (it’s never explained why, but this isn’t really important anyway), which the humans discover is chained to a monolith or something near the middle of the film.
And then there’s the big ‘twist’ near the end of the film where a character who was once thought to be a geeky, but likable doctor is actually some kind of serial killer/rapist (or something, I was too busy gawking at the amateurish way the twist was revealed) and in the last 15 minutes or so of the film, goes on this tangent about him “being a monster” and feeling at “home” on this planet and it’s just sooo forced – very much an afterthought, or very quickly filmed. And it’s a stupid revelation as well because Topher Grace plays the character in such a straight way, that when this twist occurs, his demeanor and his personality seems to be schizophrenic. He is suddenly confident and cunning whereas before he was awkward and pretty slow to catch on. It has to be one of the worst character transformations of all time.
And another thing, the director seemed completely unable to show the Predators themselves in a suspenseful way. The costumes, makeup, setting, even the CGI looks wonderful, but moments that are intended to be surprising or tense are drained of any energy they might have had because the film is terribly edited (not to mention the completely inept direction). Often there are scenes where it seems like the editor used some kind of automatic editing program or something; shots linger just a bit too long at a lot of places and occasionally there are scenes which seem to start way before the actions/expressions occur.
Then there’s the writing. The writer couldn’t apparently figure out any other way to explain the characters’ predicament so Brody’s character practically becomes Sherlock Holmes and can deduce these things with little or nothing that would explain how he knows it.
Such as with this little quote: “We’re being hunted. The cages, soldier, all of us. We were all brought here for the same purpose. This planet is a game preserve, and we’re the game. In case you didn’t notice, we just got flushed out. They sent the dogs in. Just like you would if you were stalking boar, shooting quail. They split us apart and they watched. Testing us.”
The only actor that really stands out is Lawrence Fishburne. I found his character intriguing. The idea of a survivor from a previous ‘hunting season’ (10 seasons to be exact) who has become this schizophrenic ‘ranger,’ has a lot of room for potential to expand the character. The script doesn’t take advantage of this character though; like the rest of the characters in the film, once we finally get to know them in some small way, they are killed. Fishburne delivers his lines though in an almost Shakespearean way as if everything he was saying wasn’t utter nonsense.
The music also deserves special mention. Once again, it seems like the composer had just taken every Predator theme from the first film and simply laid it over Predators. There’s no subtlety, no dynamics, and, at times, no rhyme or reason why a certain piece of music was coupled with a certain scene.
The music is overbearing, predictable, and ultimately ineffective. Though I did get a few twinges of nostalgia when a certain theme showed promise, but that was quickly dispelled.
All in all, it’s a terribly written, lazily scored, ineptly directed, and poorly cast film. No wonder it took so long for this script to become ‘acceptable’ by a studio’s standards. The fact that it was released this year kinda shows the state of the industry.
I’m interested in hearing other people’s opinions on this film.
I’m a big Predator fan.
And I didn’t mind reading the spoilers. I was pretty excited when I heard it was out, pity that it sounds like such a bad film. Of course I’ll watch it though. =)
personally i was shocked by how much christian bale looks like adrien brody in the trailers
Haha, that’s a spot on comparison, Sensational. I agree with the original poster overall, although it’s a bit too spoilerish! One thing: they do explain why they captured one of their own kind, Laurence Fishburne says they hunt weaker ones like a sport, survival of the fittest etc.
Overall, it’s fine. It’s beats and tension mimicks the original’s so closely that it felt like a redundant effort, but hey it’s not terrible, and it’s kind of a throwback/reboot (the trailers for The A-Team & Expendables that showed beforehand really reinforced this idea).
If you’re looking for more info/plotting to do with the Predators mythos though, you’re out of luck. Because it follows the original’s format almost to a tee, it doesn’t progress the franchise at all, even though it does hint at a larger picture (SPOILER: the introduction of that other alien race also sent to hunt Predators? completely glossed over. I was amazed.)
Oh and there’s a part with CGI boar that really drags.
Oh and SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER post:
I really feel like I got the DVD extra ending. It’s glib, and is missing one of the key “last act” scenes from the trailer. I wouldn’t be surprised if the ACTUAL DVD extra ending turns out to be better and more thought out. Maybe they couldn’t finish post production in time or something!
I actually dug the flick. The film is all about the hunt, the chase. Survival, plain and simple. I do agree though, Adrien’s character seemed to be able to put situations together extremely quickly. However, I didn’t feel it was TOO far fetched because he was soldier for a long time and then a mercenary afterward. So he’s probably seen it all and done it all. And he didn’t figure out EVERYTHING, I liked how other characters pointed out the predators’ techniques because they mirrored their own (like using a body to cry for help as a trap).
You forgot to mention that the cinematography was incredible as well. I can’t agree with you on the editing though, I thought it was fine. You said “shots linger just a bit too long at a lot of places and occasionally there are scenes which seem to start way before the actions/expressions occur.” Personally, I enjoyed all of that because by lingering around in the jungle, it puts you in that same mood, that same space. I know these two films aren’t related but it reminded me a bit of L’Avventura in that aspect (and ONLY that aspect). Imagine if in *L’Avventura, they cut out all of the shots that lingered on the space they were in, all of the vistas.
I agree with the Topher Grace character, they could’ve handled that twist a little better. The only way I can forgive them for that is what Adrien did to him afterward and how he used him. Overall, I think if you’re a fan of action films that are all about the chase and the hunt, survival and all that, then you should check it out. And obviously, if you dug the original Predator, you’ll probably like this.
“Personally, I enjoyed all of that because by lingering around in the jungle, it puts you in that same mood, that same space.”
That’s not what I meant at all. It doesn’t linger in the sense of focusing on something for an extended period of time (it’s a modern film and there are many, many quick cuts – A LOT of editing), it simply isn’t edited properly. There’s nothing wrong with the cinematography per se, but I could predict (and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one) every single instance where something “tense” or “shocking” was supposed to happen. And the fact that the film is so intent on being tense and unnerving in such a serious way (and then it attempts to throw in some humour which falls completely flat half the time), just makes it worse. The build-up to these “intense” moments were excruciating because it was done so amateurishly.
And then there’s the Fishburne character which I found pretty intriguing (and amusing, Fishburne really did a pretty good job portraying this character, it wasn’t as over-the-top as … well, every other character in the film), but then there’s this throwaway, anticlimactic scene where his character starts arguing with his imaginary friend (this ‘friend’ of which was ‘introduced’ pretty well at first, kind of quirkily humourous) and then he gets killed so arbitrarily with bad CGI. It’s obvious that the only reason the Fishburne character even existed was to provide some much needed exposition. It’s stupid, obvious “writerly” cliches like that that just make this film such a piece of shit.
And the film tried SO hard to pummel the audience with the double meaning behind it’s title. OK, we get it, the humans are predators too, we really don’t need it repeated every other scene. It’s the equivalent of the villain spouting the old cliche to the hero, “You and me, we’re so alike.” Argh, it’s like nails on a chalkboard.
It’s a shame Nimrod directed this. I think Neil Marshall (though not a great filmmaker) would’ve at least tried to incorporate some semblance of soul into this film.
And THEN (heh), there’s the ending which pretty much defines “anticlimactic.” Quite awhile before the final shot of the film, the humans’ only mode of escape from the planet is blown up. We’re thrown several cliches at once here. First, Alice Braga’s character thinks that Brody has been blown up (we later find out that he wasn’t – big surprise). Second, we already know at this point that these people aren’t going to escape from the planet in this film – we already know they’re going to setup a sequel (unless everyone is killed of course, which is waay too ballsy for this film – not to say that would’ve made it better, just sayin’). And yet, the film still ends, as the smoke begins to clear and the fires die down, with the two protagonists (well, Braga’s character was never given the opportunity to become an actual protagonist, so I’m being generous with that one) gaze forlornly into the sky as more humans are parachuted from above and Brody says in his quasi-gravelly voice (again, I’m being generous), “Now, let’s get off this fucking planet.” By that time, I guffawed, “What!?!?” How could a writer/director/anyone-involved-in-the-film read such a line after everything that has come before it and think that was a great way to end a film. How can a viewer watch such a scene and not find it laughable? This is what really confuses me about people who praise the film.
For me, Ryan, I’m a HUGE fan of the original and I was weened on action films (was damaged by Aliens when I was 6, but loved every terrifying minute of it) ever since I was old enough to talk, but that background made it worse for me, because Predators doesn’t add anything to the genre. It borrows/steals/tributes (it amounts to the same thing: derivative) from many films (not least of all, the original Predator), but it was a letdown because, unlike the original, it didn’t up the ante in any conceivable way. I would even say Predator 2 was a much better film (though pretty average in it’s own way) than Predators because at least it tries to do something different. And there are some wonderful scenes in Predator 2 such as the subway sequence and the rooftop chase – pretty much action staples.