Sunday, 11 July 2010

Predators



There is no hunting like the hunting of man, those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else.

As you may have guessed from my Predator review earlier this month I absolutely love the Predator films but we fans have had to put up with more than our fair share of crap since the original release, Predator 2 was enjoyable but was simply a case of the same premise in a different location and despite the predator being upgraded with a spear, a shrinking net and some other cool gadgets the sequel was no where near a good as the original, but enjoyable none the less. Then along comes Alien Vs Predator the film that made me want to make a predator style trophy out of Paul W.S. Anderson and its sequel Aliens Vs Predator Requiem helmed by the Brothers Strause was no better resulting in the Predator becoming a bloated cartoonish character. But our prayers seemed to have been answered when Robert Rodriguez claimed to have a script for the third film in the series called Predators (in reference to the Alien sequel being called Aliens) that would distance the series from the AVP films and take the series back to its jungle hunter roots, So does this film succeed in restoring our beloved franchise's former glory?

Directed by Nimrod Antal (Armored) and Staring Adrien Brody (The Pianist) Predators tells the story of a group of the most deadly killers from across our planet awakening as they crash downward towards a world that is not our own. But all is not well on this strange new planet as the group realise that they have been brought here for a purpose, to be prey for a new breed of Predators.

First things first, i didn't go into the cinema with the highest expectations in the world, having been let down so many times in the past but as soon as the film began i couldn't help but gain a sense that the film was created by people with a real love for the series.

The decision to return to the jungle environment of the first film really benefits the film recreating the tension that worked so well in the original. I mentioned in my Aliens review that a successful sequel is one that expands upon the universe of the original without damaging the mythos created by earlier releases and this film is another perfect example of that. Creating the idea of two different Predator clans the Ugly Motherfuckers we know and love from Predator and Predator 2 and a new race of Super Predator that doesn't follow the code of honour that their brothers do and are determined to further the enhancement of their species in becoming better killers through rigorous battles with the strongest killers abducted from other planets.
This powerful concept of a more aggressive Super-Predator tribe that is in the middle of a bloodfued with their honorable brothers creates a strong atmosphere and a sense of uncertainty about these new larger predators that are hunting the humans.

The cast is impressive and fit nicely into their roles of war hardened soldiers and murderers.
Despite the concern caused by casting Adrien Brody as lead mercenary Royce he actually portray a more believable soldier than many other actors I have seen and nicely breaks away from older stereotypes about having to have Arnold Schwarzenegger like actors in a lead action role. He is an unconventional protagonist in that he often seems to be only interested in his own survival, caring little for others and the way in which he tries to shrug off the responsibility of leading the group with a very directed "I'm going this, way if you want to come along fine" policy.
The only minor issue that i have with the character of Royce is that his single minded determination to escape the planet at any cost is never expanded on so the audience is left unsure of what he is so desperate to get back to.

Laurence Fishburne is enjoyable as Noland as U.S. Air Cavalry Soldier who has survived many year on the planet by hiding from the Predators and scavenging what he can, when he can but as a result has become deranged from his loneliness creating an imaginary friend to keep him company, Fishburne's unbalanced Noland works well giving the audience crucial back story about the world and the Predators themselves and also able to give his character a sense of realism beyond being a crazy survivor, but his role is unbelievably short and i was surprised he wasn't in the film longer.
I was also surprised to find myself routing for Oleg Tatarov's Russian Spetsnaz Nikolai who's almost selfless character you cant help but like do to the fact that Tatarov is able to add more personality to the character than first appears.
As well as these the other characters are given time to develop and mature as the film progress making them a far more likable group of individuals and leaves the audience actually caring whether or not they will survive.

Predators raises the powerful question that is simply surviving at the cost of our humanity really better than death? this theme is driven forward most strongly by the characters of Royce and Noland who are driven solely by the notion to survive at any cost and puts their own welfare before others this is opposed by the character of Nikolai who continually puts himself in harms way for the sake of helping others.

A good point about this film is that each time the humans succeed in killing a Predator it seems to have come at a high cost to the group this means that the Predators still retain the threatening nature they held in originals and don't appear any weaker through their loss.

The effects for the new Super-Predators are brilliant distinguishing them from the other tribe but similar enougth to still showing a connection between their origins,
also each Super-Predator has a customised helmet making them distinguishable from one another and giving each one a unique character trait.
The only issue i have with the effects on the new Predators is with their masks removed their new faces seem far to similar to the the face of another of Stan Winston's creations the monster from "The Relic" but this is purely coincidental and the new face is designed to show the evolution of the Predator species.

The feel of the film has returned to that of its 1987 origin with the film focusing on building up tension and character development before descending into the explosive violence we know and love but when the action arrives its fast and loud with some of the most enjoyable action scenes since Die Hard 4, especially the final confrontation with the last Super Predator which is both brutal and clever at the same time.

As mentioned earlier the film is littered with references to the original movie such as the return of the minigun, the end credits song brilliantly being "Long Tall Sally" and even the scene in which Hanzos hangs back from the main group in order to fend off the approaching Predator with a samurai sword scene based on Billy's last stand from the original, but unlike the recent Terminator reboot the film never gets cheesy by trying to force old lines on new characters.

The final problem i have have with this film is that the ending is far too open ended I'm unsure if they are leaving it open for a sequel or simply were unsure of how to conclude the story. And what was with only learning Royce name at the end of the movie when it was released in all the promotional material? it wasn't exactly a big secret. but those are my only issues with this film.

So in summation Predators is all that I hoped it would be, a fully enjoyable return to form for the franchise and even for those of you who didn't watch the original series Predators is a enjoyable action film, sure it is a little over the top at points but its as entertaining as hell and I highly recommend checking this movie out as you wont be disappointed. Now I just hope we can keep up the good work with the upcoming Alien prequel and any Predator films to come.

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