Thursday, August 19, 2010

It Came From The Cineplex: Predators

I haven't posted any movie reviews for a while. That's because this has been a miserable summer at the movies. Other than a few bright spots like Toy Story 3 and Inception, there just hasn't been much worth seeing. It's been the Summer of Meh.

I did enjoy Predators though, so let's get on with the reviewing.

The Predator franchise has been ailing for years now. After the awesome first movie, we were treated to a so-so sequel and then two poorly made Alien vs. Predator movies. Luckily, producer Robert Rodriguez (Desperado, From Dusk Til Dawn, Spy Kids) stepped in as producer in an effort to get the franchise back on track.

Rodriguez and director Nimrod Antal (Vacancy, Armored) went back to basics, as Predators is pretty much a remake of the first movie, even though its technically a sequel. Its even got the same "boy's club plus one woman" cast as the original. Still, it's better than any of the previous sequels and one of the few bright spots in the theaters this summer.

Arrrr! There be spoilers here!

We get right into the action as the movie opens with mercenary Royce (a newly beefed-up Adrien Brody) falling through the sky, unconscious. He wakes up just in time (or it would have been an even shorter movie), figures out where he is and luckily for him, notices he's wearing an odd looking parachute.

Once on the ground, he encounters the rest of the characters, who've all arrived the same way. The cast is like a laundry list of stereotypical mercenaries; there's a Russian Spetznaz special forces soldier, a Mexican drug cartel enforcer, a Nigerian rebel, a death row inmate, a South American freedom fighter, and even a Japanese Yakuza. Oh, and Topher Grace, of TVs That 70s Show, is there as well, for some insane reason. Needless to say, the group is all suspicious of one another, and hijinx, as they say, ensue.

The various mercenary characters are all pretty cliched, but that's par for the course in an action movie, and in this case actually helps move things along quickly.

The group is then attacked by some alien-looking wolf things, and they finally realize they're not on Earth. They've all been brought to an alien hunting ground planet, and are being hunted by... something.

We finally get some new info on the Predator culture; specifically that there are more than one type, and that they don't all get along.

Adrien Brody makes a surprisingly decent action hero, as he snarls his way through the proceedings. Lawrence Fishburne, however, turns in a bizarre, Gollum-like performance that adds absolutely nothing to the plot.

Topher Grace has a surprise revelation late in the movie; his Milquetoast character was brought to the hunting planet because he's secretly a serial killer. That was kind of a cool twist, but then the movie turns around and ruins it, as it has Grace take time out from being hunted to try and serial kill Isabelle, the only female in the cast. It made absolutely no sense and jerked me right out of the movie with its weirdness.

Also, for a movie called Predators, it barely earns it's plural title. There are a total of four Predators in the entire movie. That's all, four. I was expecting more. A lot more. I'll get into that some more in a minute.

It's not perfect, but it's a decent and entertaining action flick, and better than any of the previous Predator sequels, and it's way better than most of the garbage smelling up the theaters this summer. I give it a solid B.
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Before I go, I have to mention the Predators trailer. It is one of the most extremely misleading trailers I've seen in many a day.

First of all, the trailer makes it seem like Lawrence Fishburne is the star of the movie. He is not. As I mentioned earlier, he's in the movie for a total of ten minutes, tops. If I were a Fishburne fan, I would have been extremely disappointed with his skimpy screen time.

Second, and most importantly, at the end of the trailer, there's a scene where Adrien Brody is suddenly covered in twenty or so of the Predator's distinctive laser targeting sights. Given how much havoc even one Predator wreaked in the first movie, my first reaction upon seeing this scene was, "Woah, how's he gonna get out of that? I have GOT to see this movie now!"


Imagine my disappointment at finding out that that scene doesn't appear in the actual movie. Oh, the scene's there all right, but instead of seeing Adrien Brody being covered with twenty laser sights, he's targeted by a measly one. As I mentioned earlier, there are only four Predators in the entire movie. That's a little less than the twenty that the trailer promises.

Producer Robert Rodriguez even admitted in an interview that the multi-target scene was created specifically for the trailer, in order to give you a feel of the tone of the movie. Just what tone would that be, that it's more exciting than it really is? It's a Predators movie, for cripes sake! We already know what the tone of it is, and we've known since 1987. We don't need any tone setting from the trailer.

It's false advertising at best, a bald-faced lie at worst.

It's the same as seeing a commercial for a Lexus sedan, but when you order one they deliver a Yugo to your driveway. If the trailer promises twenty Predators, then that's what I want to see, not four.

Studios have been using these "Trailer Only Scenes" for years now, but this is one of the worst examples I've yet seen. It needs to stop here and now. If not, soon we'll see trailers promising Brad Pitt as the star, but we'll end up getting Pauly Shore.

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