Or Why You Really Shouldn't Watch Predators
Let me tell you: This Predators flick is no darn good. And here's why--
The visual and special effects are lacking, as well. It's bizarre to think that a sequel could actually look worse than its original 1988 counterpart, but the folks behind this film found a way. It isn't even so much the art design choices (of which I am not a massive fan), but the actual quality of the predator suits and of the digital touch-ups look terrible. The monster suits look like they fell out of a bad theme park attraction. Instead of a big fight, you half expect a sad, ugly child to want to take a photo with them.
The CGI isn't great, either. It's strange, again, that in a world where the highest grossing film of all time is Avatar, an all computer graphics bonanza, that in 2010 there are still movies that can't figure out how to make digital blood not look like crap. They found a way to do it in 1988, yet, like the Roman recipe for concrete, that is apparently lost to the ages.
I realize it isn't fair to compare this movie (an obviously relatively low budget affair) with that of a 500 million dollar film, I just think it would have been nice if they put at least 500 dollars towards some of their special effects.
That Stupid Thing Your Mouth Keeps Doing
And another thing, to speak nothing of the lousy plot, which really just consists of a loose configuration of set pieces and inter-cut with dialogue that sounds like it came from an action movie script template. I don't know how you manage to make a movie about alien hunters running an intergalactic game preserve by rote, but Robert Rodriguez and whoever directed it managed to find a way.
It's sad that is the most remarkable thing about the whole movie.
Then there's the people tasked with delivering these lines. There's the gruff and guarded soldier, there's the hick, there's the disposable black guy, there's Machete, there's Boris, there's the taciturn Japanese guy (oh, good, he found a samurai sword, I wonder where this is going). They aren't characters, they're trading cards.
And I know what you're thinking, "Oh, but James, that's a ridiculous point to make! There weren't any good characters in the original film! It was just Arnie and a bunch of muscle men spouting one-liners!"
Oh yeah? Well, fuck you**.
"Slack-jawed faggots" and other Colloquialisms
Where are the one-liners? Where's the catch phrases? Where's my sexual tyrannosaurus? Gone! Lost to time! Instead we get a bunch of half-assed monologues meant to convey that this hombres (and hombress) are mean mother fuckers that in actuality just sound like someone padding out scenes of intense special effects. The dialogue is terrible, as is the exposition.
The best lines in the movie are a quote from Ernest Hemmingway and when that prisoner calls one of the predators a "space faggot," which is not a phrase I think I'd ever have experienced without this movie.
So, thank you for that, Predators.
I'm 90% sure this didn't happen in the movie.
The Chewbacca Defense
Also, what's the logic of this movie? Are the predators omniscient? Do they perform careful studies of the human species and select from a list of candidates? Is these a board of predator elders that approve or disapprove how much of a warrior someone is? Is there a metric for that kind of a thing? Is it a number or a letter grade?
And if these predators are semi-omniscient, what's with hunting these people down? Is that not sporting or something? (Don't answer that, I'm being facetious)
Even by action movie standards the world doesn't make sense. It isn't internally consistent. People die because they have to and predators keel over because it says in the script that their time was up. In one scene a claymore mine causes an explosion on the scale of a mini-Hiroshima and a few scenes later a big sack of grenades goes off and doesn't even scratch the predator that was standing right on top of it.
This does not make sense.
Daddy Needs a New Pair of Shoes
What's worse is that it fucked up my good movie streak. I went from Elite Squad 2 to Gosford Park to Wall-E to Winter's Bone to this. . .this thing. How dare they.
How dare they.
Credit Where Credit is Due
Of course the best part of the whole movie is when Laurence Fishbourn* shows up as some kind of a mash-up between (guy) and Dennis Hopper from Apocalypse Now. Even though he doesn't fit into the film itself-- he's much too silly and clearly out-of-shape-- but, in this case, that's a good thing.
If I include the crossovers, the predator has been in five films. If I include sanity and taste, the predator is only in one good film. That's a horrible batting average. At this point I find it unlikely that this creature is ever going to dig itself out of the hole that its owners have put it in. The Alien franchise has had its years in the wilderness, but in that case it has an actual curator in the form of Ridley Scott. Predators has, what? People who want to see him fight Freddie and Jason?
I can't help but feel that at this point the predator is now stuck on this b-movie rail line that, at some point is just going to fly off of a cliff. There's a lot of horror movies that
Now it's a sub-par genre flick with dudes in rubber suits lumbering around, fighting stereotypes. . . No, wait. It was always that. But at least in 1988 it was good.
Here comes the thrilling climaaaaaaawn.
The Moral of the Story Is
So, what have we learned? Well, we learned that no matter how many good films or how complicated my tastes may have become over the years, the idea of a bunch of madmen fighting a space alien is still highly attractive to me.
I guess we also learned that a B-movie premise, once elevated, tends to descend right back down to earth if in the wrong hands.
And I think, most importantly, is I want to watch a Predator 3 (or would it be 4?).
Oh well. At least we've got Prometheus to look forward to.
Also, instead of watching Predators, go and watch this movie--
Which is completely insane and ridiculous and about as believable, but, damnit, it's got heart. And pregnant hermaphroditic lizard aliens.
*I have twice mistaken Laurence Fishburne for Morgan Freeman for some reason. Thinking about it now, Freeman's inclusion in this movie would have been amazing.
**Also, the original Predator had that crypto-gay black guy in it who went nuts when his beau died. He died singing.