Saturday, January 1, 2011

MR Predators

Let's kick off this year with another long overdue review!

After all those previews I have been doing before its theatre release on my blog, here's finally a MR of the latest film in the Predator series!

Movie: Predators
Directed by Nimród Antal
Release date 2010
Genre Scifi/horror
Country USA

Note: I already briefly reviewed this movie after watching it.

Often rumoured, this third Predator movie has been through a lot before being finally produced and released last year. Making it exactly 20 years since the last "real" Predator movie hit theatres.

To be precise, the studio 20th Century Fox wasn't very keen on making a sequel to both the Predator and Alien series. These kind of movies could cost a lot to produce, counting pretty expensive practical effects (suits, gore aspects, etc..) and the scifi part (space/spaceship settings, open sets for the Predator, etc..).
And since these last bunch of years (around the 2000s), Fox's been well known for making what I call lackbuster movies. Meaning cheap fake-blockbusters. Where most costs go to one or two big action scenes and the rest of the movies being easily shot/cost effective, oh and also featuring one or two well known popular faces amongst cheap actors. (TV/movie actors)
They've done it with both Fantastic Four movies (isn't it crazy than the only "epic" scene of a superhero movie like FF is when a a Firetruck almost fall of a bridge because of the hero who ends up saving it!), X-men 3, Daredevil/Elektra and many more..even (specially) Die Hard 4 to some extend!!

Anyway, back on Predator!
The movie had been stuck for many years on pre-production. Many scripts went by.
Robert Rodriguez, who loved the concept and the original movie, wrote in fact many screenplays around the time Predator 2 came out. Since they never got made, some were eventually translated into funny books by Dark Horse Comics.
One of those stories was about a Predator in the 1600s, meeting pirates and getting the gun he would give to Danny Glover in the 2nd movie.
Another was about Predators against samurais.
And finally one was about a game preserve, where Predators would keep Prey for competition...

Best Opening Ever.

The movie starts right from the go.
As almost no movie does anymore. No big shiny presentation of a logo, or long complicated CGi opening.
The story starts with Royce.

He and a bunch of others mercenaries and thugs happen to drop from the ski (?) and land in a mysterious jungle.
The team gets to know each other, but these guy put together are pretty disfunctional.
They seem to come from various unrelated backgrounds. A mexican enforcer called Cuchillo, a spetsnaz soldier named Nikolai, an inmate who goes by "Stans", Hanzo a yakuza, etc..
The only female on board, an israeli sniper Isabelle.
And finally a "doctor", Edwin, who seems rather out of place there.
Apart from Edwin, they all have only one common point, they're all killers.
But why were they all gathered there??

Adrian Brody in all his manly manliness.

The movie is a big "return to basics".
After two horrible awful lackbuster Alien Versus Predator movies, which where so cheap they plainly avoided to use space as battlground for the Aliens and Predators or any fun plot from the games or comics they were named after, this movie Predators takes a lot from the original Predator movie.

We're back in a jungle, hunted by a mysterious killer.
The movie spends most of its first act developing and introducing to the character.
They're not your usual cannon folder, or cliché characters.
All in their own ways, all get some nice character introduction and motivations. Also it shows the actors were actually having fun on the set.

Rodriguez, who wrote the script, played a bit with his usual brand of character in each of these guys, you could almost imagine them in one of his Desperado flicks.
Adrien Brody really surprised me there! He totally lived up the role, I was originally afraid he wasn't suited for this franchise after protagonists played by "Terminator" Schwarzy and "Lethal Weapon" Danny Glover.
Sadly, Danny Trejo is mostly a cameo in this movie, being on screen so...little time... :/

Even the music goes back to the percussion and jungle beats.
When I read John Debney (Sin City, Iron Man 2, The Mummy 3) was the composer, I had my doubts...
But he perfectly catched Alan Silvestri's original score here. Sometimes a bit modern-ysh sounding in the more action scenes, other times pretty in tune with Predator 1 in the tension parts and when the hunt is on similar to Predator 2.
Perfect score for the music!

My new favorite scene in all 3 Predator movies!

The movie starts pretty much ground based.
It re-imagines a similar situation to Predator 1 with new twists and modern ideas.
The movie is a continuation to both Predator 1 and 2 (and 2!! unlike what some news may have make it sound, misquoting Rodriguez!) and perfectly ignores any connection to Alien or the AVP franchise. There are some "alien" elements, as in other creatures, but not the Xenomorphs themselves.
When  the Preds finally appear on screen, the movie goes completly scifi...for a while. We're introduced to other creatures, strange Predator-tech, see some derelict ships.... Then the movie is able to go back to a more reality-grounded atmosphere again like in Predator 1.
I'm kinda sad the movie didn't totally embrace its science fiction roots more.
At least the final half has some nice twists and surprises.

In his original screenplay (which some versions have been leaked online), Rodriguez planned main roles for returning character and in the later forms at least a cameo for both Danni Glover and Schwarzennegger.
It seems Dutch would have appeared in the end with a mean to escape for Royce and Isabelle and I guess Harrigan would have appeared instead of Laurence Fishburne's character.

The movie also rehashes some concepts Rodriguez wanted to try, since he wasn't sure he would be able to make/produce another Predator movie after that.
Scrapped ideas such as a sword fight with a Predator came from older scripts, and it was pretty nice to see this in here. Specially since it takes the Predator creature into new playgrounds.

Mano-a-mano between Preds this time?!

For the fans, the movie isn't without any twists like I said.
We finally clearly see some distinction amongst Predator clans, playing with the motif of the original Predator design and bringing new member of the same specie. The three new "main" Predators (refered to Super Predators in early promotion and behind the scenes material) are clearly a different breed who seem, like the humans, trapped in this planet.

Near the end, when the objective becomes to escape this world rather than stay and fight, Royce makes an alliance with what seems a more classic Predator creature.
By the way, from what Robert Rodriguez let know, this movie wasn't supposed to have any reference to AVP, right?
Then, why did we need to see a human & Predator teaming up one more time and using the same "the enemy of my enemy is my friend"-bulls*** again??

Anyhow, Rodriguez was pretty smart to get 20th Century Fox's approval on this movie.
With the success of both previous AVPs (a moderate box office revenue on a tiny budget = profit!), Rodriguez was able to make Fox accept to produce this one.
And since he knowns his business, he was also able to keep budget on a reasonable level and use mostly practical special effects and only relying on slight CGi for minor details (such as the landscape).

Overall, finally the third entry in the Predator series!
One more to go and they'll catch the Alien seires (that is, if they do it first, over thsoe new rumoured Alien movie prequels-btw, ugh..awful idea!!)
And a righful sequel at that!

Director Nimród Antal, who's mostly known for great thrillers full of thrills, did great behind the camera.
He was Rodriguez first choice, since he couldn't make it anymore as director. But he stayed on the set most of the times, contributing as he could with his tight shedule.

The movie makes a lot of references to the previous episodes.
Mostly Predator 1 as anyone can guess, but also Predator 2 in its structure and devleopment (to be exact, it even follows closely the patterns and the way Pred 2 introduced the monster, set the confrontations until the final 20+ minutes of final showdown ending with the ultimate smackdown).
They were a lot of reflections to the originals.
The Yakuza vs. the Pred mirrored Billy vs. the Pred over the river in the original. (but this time on screen!)
Even the whole squad was sort of based on Predator 2 characters (Isabelle/Leona Cantrell, Stans/Bill Paxton's character...).
They were even able to make a reference to the old never-seen-before alien suit wore by Jean Claude Van Damme in the original Predator before redesigning the monster, the monster actually happens as a sort of red herring for our characters early on, before being killed.

The movie also actually refers to Aliens a lot, the second Alien movie.
Not just in its title, this third Predator introduces a more military-based aspect to the series (not seen since the original), more creatures and different designs, like Aliens did.

I would love to rate this one higher, but due to Danny Trejo being underused (ooh...), some misdirection from the trailers and promotions (a lot of Preds hunting Brody? huh...nope) and the fact that it doesn't bring anything new to the table other than a return to the roots (duly appreciated)..I only recommend to watch it if you're interested or like these sort of violent monster movies.
In the opposite case, it won't change your mind about this series!
(watch it/give it a try!)

And finally a little note.
'loved listening to Little Richard's Long Tall Sally in the end, which was a great tribute to the only song heard in Predator 1 (in the choppa!!) and a perfect cue to end a great action R-Rated violent flick.
'nuff said

I give it:
 2 / 3 UFOs!

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