Monday 12 July 2010

Review: Predators

Year: 2010
Director: Nimrod Antal
Screenplay: Alex Litvak, Michael Finch
Starring: Adrian Brody, Topher Grace, Alice Braga, Laurence Fishburne

Synopsis is here

The original Predator is one of those 80's action milestones that certain film geeks absolutely love. It had everything that people needed at the time. Arnie, Wrestlers holding huge freaking guns, Arnie, Aliens, Arnie, Carl Weathers, Arnie, Violence and er...Arnie. It was a very simple premise but it's one crafted with quite a bit of skill by John McTiernan (Die Hard). It's a dumb movie, but a fun one. It has just the right combination of silliness, action and comradery to hit the mark. Many have tried to imitate the vibe, but just don't hit that mark. Maybe because it involves a mud-encrusted Arnold Schwarzenegger and alien nuke at the films climax, I don't know. There's just something about it. Predators, with it's winking (and awesome) score and replicated imagery tries it's best to bring about the same feel, but despite it's adequate technical craft, there's not too much to write home about.

Ignoring the dubious AvP movies and advancing past Danny Glover's urban jungle (Pred 2), Predators jumps straight into the action B movie, with it's characters freefalling into an alien jungle without a clue what the hell was going on. I had to admit at the beginning, it reminded me more of Cube than the original Predator, as these various hardheaded lunkheads try and figure out what the hell is going on. From the start you can tell whose fodder, who will stay alive and who will die, and like the original film, that's not the point. However, unlike the first film these characters are less than one note. Represented only by their clothes and not any real characterization. They are now less defined than their 1987 counterparts, which is pretty tough considering all you needed to know about Billy could be written on a napkin.

By having no real character, the actors don't have much else to work with. We have a better pool of talent here than what's previously featured, but there's none of the chemistry that have fellow geeks picking their favorite character moments. In 87, the actors were limited, but they had just a presence that kept you going, be it Dillon or be it Mac, fodder they were but identikit they weren't. You really feel the blandness when the semi cameo that appears through the second act. The loopy turn that a certain actor puts in are a bit left field, but his company is sorely missed once he's gone.

The lack of presence also helps display a pedestrian screenplay. Stilted dialogue and very random leaps of faith are abound. If the narrative suddenly decides that someone should have a change of heart completely against type, then that's what will happen. The worst thing about this is it feels scripted, there's nothing organic about what takes place. It feels very written, very implausible and very worn. It's frustrating to see a character with no actual character suddenly become heroic for no other reason other than to A: Get rid of him because he's been around too long doing not much and B: Give us a slightly above average fight sequence that has taken far too long to get to.

Which brings me to why most people will see the film: The action. Antal's scenes aren't terrible in a directional sense, in fact they have a nice retro feel to them, but they're not particularly thrilling in anyway. The film does little to utilize the antagonists well, and despite this film having more predators, they don't hold the same suspense that one of them did way back when.

I keep referencing the first film and for that I am sorry, however, it just doesn't have that same sense of fun. It has a very mechanical feel throughout, and did little to raise my spirits after a stressful day at work. There is a knock around feel to some of the scenes of the film, the acting isn't awful, and many die hards will just be happy enough that this ignores the AvP films. But just like those films, this will be left right next to them when I'm scouring the shelves of HMV.