What the hell are you?
Predators is directed by Nimrod Antal and stars Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, Alice Braga, Walton Goggins, and Laurence Fishburne.
The good news is that Predators, the third installment in the Predator franchise (not counting the two wretched AvP movies), brings the franchise back towards what made it work so well in the first place. We return to the jungle setting that we had in the first film, and as the title would imply, we now have multiple Predators running around and using the jungle as their hunting ground, not just one. Ironically, the Predator franchise shares this promising sequel premise with that of Aliens in the Alien franchise: Alien gave us just one of the Alien creatures, and then Aliens multiplied that number tenfold. Now after the disappointment that was Predator 2, the Predator franchise can redeem itself by unleashing a sequel that has the potential to be up there with Aliens.
Unfortunately, Predators does not fully deliver on that promise, instead preventing the Predator franchise from fully taking off and becoming the powerhouse sci-fi franchise that it could possibly become. For starters, there are not enough Predators to justify the title; there's about four or five Predators tops throughout the whole movie. Secondly, there is nothing of a coordinated effort on the part of the Predators nor even the humans to accurately state that this movie is a battle between humans and Predators. More so, this is a movie that's built up to seem like it's a bunch of humans being hunted by a swarm of Predators, only for the movie to take a series of twists and turns and end up being something a little more unexpected, but still disappointing.
The movie opens with a man named Royce (Adrien Brody) waking up and finding that he is falling from the sky. Royce parachutes down into an unknown jungle, where he comes across several others who arrived in a similar fashion. The group reaches higher ground and find themselves staring at some alien skyline, confirming that they are not on Earth. The jungle they are in is a gaming preserve for a group of advanced Predators, who are watching the group from up in the trees. Things gets a little more complicated, however, when the group discovers a captive Predator and then later meet a surviving American soldier named Noland (Laurence Fishburne).
- Predators doesn't hold back on the nasty scale; the kills are bloody, and Nimrod Antal isn't afraid to be graphic with characters (and Predators) getting body parts chopped off. The movie also gets a little more creative with how its characters get axed off one at a time and not just have the Predators kill everyone one by one. Some characters go out in a "blaze of glory" type fashion, and the ones that don't, well, a Predator kills them in a delightfully bloody way.
- The script makes Adrien Brody's character frustrating to watch, primarily because he feels the need to explain the plot to us time and time again. Brody's Royce is able to deduce things like the jungle being a gaming preserve without a whole lot of information, simply just....having a hunch for figuring things out. Usually, it's necessary for a movie character to explain certain plot details to us, but not to constantly go into monologues that pause the movie so that the character can ensure that we are up to speed with what's going on. Royce also isn't exactly the most charming person you'll ever meet, taking cynicism wherever the group goes. One character named Edwin (Topher Grace) gets badly injured, and Royce insists that they just leave him behind or use him as bait for the Predators. For Royce, his own survival matters most, and you'll either love him or hate him for it.
- Predators also likes to repeat quips and sequences that are straight out of Predator, in an imprudent attempt to try and win nostalgia points. The climactic battle is a carbon copy of Schwarzenegger versus the Predator from the first film, and boy is Adrien Brody a far cry from Arnold's charm and lovable machismo. The story itself isn't a total retread of Predator's story, but it's sorely lacking the suspense and the muscle that made the first film so great, even though the plot for Predator was rather thin. A sequel is usually doing more harm than good by taking stuff from its predecessors and recycling them. Isn't the idea of a sequel to expand upon the first film and do something different?
After watching Predators for the first time, I found it to be worse than Predator 2. But after re-watching both of those films recently, I might have to give the slight edge to Predators, which, despite several writing issues, still features some good, bloody action that keeps up the fracnhise's long-running strength of delivering amusing, violent kills. Also, Predators tries to recapture the magic of the first film, which is what makes it beat out Predator 2 for me. Outside of the action though, Predators doesn't offer up much else. The characters are boring, and there are simply not enough Predators for this movie to be the smash hit that it could have been. Seriously, this could have been the next Aliens had it been placed in the right hands. Instead, the Predator franchise continues its notorious reputation of wasted potential, leaving it as yet another long-running franchise in which one or two fantastic films are weighed down by a series of lackluster sequels. The Alien franchise and the Jaws franchise also fit that description, if you needed further examples. Film-goers don't always need sequels to get a good movie experience.
Recommend? No, buy if you liked Predator 2, then you might enjoy this one.
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