Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Review: Predators

There wasn't many people in the theater tonight, although, I caught the last showing at 10:35. Good, more fun for me. And believe me. I. Had. A. Lot. Of. Fun. Son. More than I thought I would.

This is every bit as cool as the trailer looks. Even though the trailer made us think we get what Ebert said the film missed, "Quiet suspense". I agree, while at times, things got quiet and good conversation was quickly exchanged, Antal never kept that going with the scenes of violence and terror. But either way, I shit you not. If you trust this munki even a little bit--this is a very credible sequel to the '87 original. Balee-dat!

(Silly announcer voice) But wait! There's more!

A 75th anniversary graphic plays before the movie, reminding us that the film merger between Fox Films and 20th Century Pictures was formed in 1935 to give us films and entertainment, a nice history lesson. Nimrod Antal starts his incarnation out with (the Alvin Silvestri score pumping) Adrien Brody free-falling through the air. He plays Royce the ex-military now mercenary (most likely working with a PMC). His eyes are closed, waiting to be awoken by the quickly rushing cold air. He does wake, and then frantically yells, grunts and smashes the button for his chute to open. It's an automatic chute and barely get's out before sending Royce through the trees and he hits the ground with a thud! Title card and horns from the score blare: Predators. Blood from his nose and gasping for breath, he wakes to find the second dude, (Danny Trejo) falling down next to him. Then another falls between them, only his chute didn't auto-open in time. Too bad. 

Once everybody is done ca-thuding onto the alien planet they don't yet know their on, they hesitantly group together and are, along with Royce, comprised of:
  • Isabelle: An IDF black ops sniper 
  • Mombasa: A Sierra Leone RUF death squad officer 
  • Hanzo: A Yakuza enforcer 
  • Nikolai: A Russian Spetsnaz commando 
  • Edwin: A Doctor, possibly grouped by mistake  
  • Cuchillo: A Mexican Los Zetas drug cartel enforcer
  • Stans: A notorious and deadly death-row inmate from San Quentin State Prison
Nice group of Predators...

Not really intending to, more like looking out for himself, Royce takes command of the rag-tag's. he sues silent hand-eye commands to control his players and use their strengths. But every time he looses one it makes it harder for Brody to look cool doing that stuff. Pity. When told they need to stick together, he replies, "Then you should follow me..." And then we're off into the steamy sweltering jungle.

I liked Brody popping up in this as a very credible action star, with an edge. He doesn't smirk at the camera, he sneers every now and then at the crew he's with. Royce is a sort of a dickhead, nice touch Adrien. Trejo's character says, "This is hell." Brody shoots back, "Last time I checked you didn't need a parachute to get there." Giving us insight into his past as a merc, and military man. Royce notices things, sizes them up quietly, quickly, and accurately. Which also shows us he's a seasoned pro. People's language, both body and mouth, denotes to Royce the countries and the forces they work for. He notices that the sun hasn't moved since their arrival. Minutes later, they lay witness to many moons in orbit, many very large moons in outer space. Now they realize their sorta fucked. That's where I'll leave you with the plot details, short of a most righteous samurai sword duel with the Yakuza and a Predator.

Btw--Is it worth anything to say that Walton Goggins (what a damn name) made an excellently brash, take-no-prisoners, cursing, druggy American serial-murderer/rapist/ignoramus on death row? Welp, I'm not sure if I'm giving a compliment here, but he certainly had me convinced. Another btw--in the original we waited with patience to behold the the glory of that Minigun held by Gov. Jesse Ventura. Here? (Mini spoiler) It's not even four minutes and they waste all that anticipation. Or maybe it wasn't that big a deal, but it's those little things from McTeirnan's movie that separates this one. But again, these things are mi-nute. And Topher Grace pops up trying to save his career post-70''s Show. he made me think of the dumb white chicks in horror movies, who curse too much, and fall down all the time. He falls a few times, he get's his licks in with the F-word and eventually he get's saved more than once, more than twice, more than--You get the point.

Speaking of directors, I liked Nimrod's work on this. It would seem his name is not very accurate at describing his technique after all. There's nuances of Silvestri spliced with new additions to the score. A kind of remix? Yeah, it played well enough for me. The film also follows the rules of it's predecessor, we don't meet these predators for a lengthy period into the running time of said movie. There too busy watching them interact, run, hunt, fight, fend-off the pred-dogs and so on. Testing and sizing up. They are real hunters. And I do like the camera work Anatal applied. He pushes in slow and holds it, and pulls out slow. (that's what she said) the crane goes up and holds that shot, or it swings and circles and pans without cutting into two, or three or four unnecessary shots.

What happens as far as the dialogue is that half the time in this someone will explain something in great detail, or something horrible takes place, making it painfully obvious what the answer is. Then, some asshole still left in the group pushes out something dumb like, "Wound one man... Set a trap... Kill those who come..." Dude... We can see that. Do you work for the department of redundancy?

In what I'm sure many people thought was a waste of time, this movie does indeed bring us back to atmosphere of the original. Fun, taunt, and full of slam-bang action sequences and (not exactly pulled off) chills. Nimrod Antal and Rodriguez have crafted a new, higher standard here. Elevating themselves away from the new installments of what James Cameron dubbed, "Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman". There's already talk of a sequel to this, with Nimrod and Brody expressing enthusiasm to come back for round two. I'm on board for that with ma bags packed--please let that ship sail. I had so much fun from years of Predator love (clocking in @ 9 years old first watching the '87 movie on VHS--thanks pop), that I was just happy to be viewing this unfold before my eyes. But it does feel it a little, not rushed, but, compacted? The orig and this share the same running time too, so what does that say? 

Still, a solid three 'Nanas for Grace supplying the estrogen of the picture, Fishburne and his "buddy", and Goggins' note of Braga's indeed nice ass. 

Munki out

P.S. Walton Goggins, while sometimes taking the roles with characters that require less brain power, is a talented performer and it's a pleasure to see him doing his stuff. Check out the short The Accountant (for which he received an academy award for best short), and any episode of Justified or The Shield.

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