Saturday, July 10, 2010

Signal Watch Watches: Predators

If you're going to make a Predator movie, Predators is certainly as Predatory a Predator movie as one could Predator.

One supposes that the initial pitch was "hey, let's remake Predator." And somewhere along the line, somebody pointed out that while everyone loves a good space alien with laser blasts, what made the original film was the assemblage of talent.* One would be oddly hard pressed to find another Arnie, Carl Weathers, Jesse Ventura or Bill Dukes from today's pool of talent. Also, your built in audience isn't going to see changing the Predators' look visually as an improvement. And so, Predators is more or less a jolt to the series rather than a remake, reimagining, what have you. It can be seen as a sequel, but its definitely intended to tell kids born after 1987 that Predators are pretty cool, so we're going to try to reboot this franchise.

I'll admit, this movie is not going to win any awards, and for good or ill, its a throw-back to a kind of action movie I kind of thought Hollywood had forgotten to make. But I also realized how much I missed this sort of movie. Straight up plot, tough as nails characters, a screenplay you could write on the back of a napkin, and relying mostly on practical FX in an era when we're CGing the right number of sweat droplets onto a character's brow.

I don't think this movie will be huge, and I have no idea if it will spark a Predator renaissance. But it was a fairly solid summer action movie matinee, the kind I used to make sure I saw in the theater between the ages of 13 and sometime in my 20's.

The casting is a bit more a mixed bag than the he-men of the 1987 film, featuring the curiously ripped Adrian Brody as the reluctant leader of our band of misfits. Rather than a crew of soldiers stumbling into the situation, we find that the Predators seem to have been nabbing folks from all over Earth and dumping them into their game. The movie also features Danny Trejo, Topher Grace and Alice Braga (who was pretty good, I thought).

No idea who was in the alien suits.

The plot isn't overly complicated, but the writers did add some new twists, some of which it will be up to a sequel to explore in its entirety.

Anyhow, you can do worse for a matinee screening. I'm a bit embarrassed that I was so jazzed by a movie I knew was clearly a B-movie, even as I was watching it.

One funny bit... The movie was filmed on a mix of soundstage (Troublemaker Studios, here in Austin), Hawaiian jungle and with a few scenes in Central Texas. There were at least two scenes where it was so obviously Central Texas that I almost snickered a bit, as the last shots had so clearly been... not Central Texas.

Also, the trailer for "Machete" got a round of applause from the Austin audience. Let me know what people are thinking in your theater. All I know is that Michelle Rodriguez looks awesome in that trailer.

*seriously. If you were a kid who watched nothing but action movies in the 1980's, and I was, these guys seemed absolutely amazing.

my personal heroes, 1987


Fantomenos said...

Yeah, everyone went nuts for the "Machete" trailer in my neck of the woods, too. Then to have Trejo get such short shrift in the movie was such a letdown.

I can't decide if I can recommend this movie, myself. It has been a while since I've seen a movie this ridiculous without being even slightly tongue in cheek, which is completely true to the tone of the original, and most of the actioners of the 80s. They were just totally sincere.

The League said...

I hear you, Fantomenos. I dunno. I kind of appreciate a movie these days that isn't trying to be too overtly sly. Maybe I'm ready for some of that 80's-era-macho-sincerity once again? Although I don't know if I can return to movies like Commando again.

Maybe, if I can get a bit of both, I'm okay with it?

I do know I was fully aware that I should find this movie pretty awful, but 12-year-old me who saw this in 87 on VHS was very happy to be seeing Predator-induced mayhem once again. I'm not sure I'm the right guy to ask.

J.S. said...

As I told Ryan after the movie, I thought Predators was a lot of fun. I immediately new that today's audience would have plenty of different ways to pick it apart, but I'm going to be the guy who will go ahead and say that none of the other Predator movies were anywhere close to flawless either. They had plenty of flaws, but now we consider those flaws to be cool thanks to the mighty power of nostalgia.
Anyway, I thought Predators was fun. Which is all that I ask from these movies, really.