In what is both a simultaneous reboot and a sequel to the beloved Predator, Robert Rodriguez and Nimród Antal looked to breathe new life into the severely failing franchise. In short this was a return to the basics and what the series needed, however I was simply underwhelmed. It was a fun outing that I had with some fellow Predator fans, but honestly I was more entertained with the fake Arnold voice-over trailer for the film.
PLOT: To me, so much of the film just screamed “fan boy film”. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and in that respect this was highly flattering. The drawback here is that the story was too dependent on replicating signature elements from the first Predator film. In what is pretty blatant fan service, I counted over half a dozen homages or “hat nods” in the first half of the film before I stopped counting. But I figure that’s what the fans were probably looking for after the last two let down films. The story is nothing new and much of what you’ll see you can either expect it to happen or see it for what it is, an exact retread of iconic scenes from the first film. I give it points for style, but not for substance.
CHARACTER: Here we were introduced to the “baddest of the bad” and I really liked the diverse cast but they seemed not only stereotypical but like something straight out of a comic book. It was an interesting take instead of simply using another elite fighting group which would not only be unoriginal but so over done these days. But as far as the cohesion of this machismo mixed bag, it all played out just fine and everyone fit their part…except for Topher Grace. Who thought it was a good idea to have him in the picture and just how many series will his presence taint and/or ruin I wonder? On the plus side, the female lead turns out to be quite a welcomed surprise that I wasn’t expecting at all.
MELODY: This definitely felt like a worthy Predator movie and it focused on key elements that made the first film so great; high tension, bewilderment and the right amount of characters to care about. The players (both in concept and their actors) gelled well for the most part and everything felt like it belonged…again, except for Topher Grace. A surprise to me was the music which wasted absolutely no time in its plucking of my nostalgic heartstrings (shameless though the efforts were). Good news is Predators was paced well especially for “running and gunning jungle flick” but some of the slow down scenes felt unnecessary and the attempts to flesh out the characters only more so.
SPECTACLE: I think that, like Jaws, less is definitely more in a Predator flick. In my opinion, he’s the greatest alien ever created. Hell I would love to see more of him yet I have a strong belief that the mystique and reverence is lost if you over saturate him in the film. Further, the problem I see is that with a character like the Predator, once you’ve seen him in all his glory, there’s only so much you can do to embellish him. One thing I am proud to write is that those embellishments worked. I will admit I loved the idea of two types of Predators (and I didn’t mind the dogs) but was not thrilled by the shoddy CG to pull some of it off. They successfully brought something new to the series by changing the overall key elements of the Predator just a bit. Again, it all worked.
This script has be around (in some form or another) for the past 15 years and you can see how much of a fan of the original the young Robert Rodriguez was when he wrote it. It was changed a bit by the pair of writers here but for the most part all the initial RR elements have remained. Most of the story played like “What Would RR Do?” had he helmed the original John McTiernan film. That said, I think the story succeeded despite various missteps. Still I had a really fun time but as the original Predator is one tough act to top, I was just looking for more. Still, this didn’t do half bad and gave fans what they’ve been looking for. For the series though, it was a much needed shot of adrenaline…but it’s not out of the ICU just yet.