More like ‘Meh’-dators. Amirite?
The following review contains spoilers for Predators.
I’m hesitant to write in any detail why Predators was a hapless, lazy, predictable snooze-fest, as giving any other analysis beyond ‘it was shit’ would already be spending more time and effort thinking about it than the scriptwriters did. And believe it or not, they actually got paid to create this crapfest.
But if I can get the positives out of the way first, I’ll go into more detail than is probably necessary, explaining what am wrong wiv it…
When teasing the project, producer Robert Rodriguez promised largely practical effects, which he duly delivered in the form of a cast of characters who appear to be made entirely of cardboard. In fact, the most plausible way for them to survive so long on a planet of nasty aliens would probably be to turn sideways.
[Here endeth the positives]
I’m now breaking up the flow of the review to type something completely unnecessary that won’t last long but will leave you scratching your head as to why you’re reading it, which is not dissimilar to the baffling cameo in Predators.
In case they were concerned about having a cast who are too flat, they (almost literally) roll out Larry Fishburne, as someone who’s been eating survived for several years on the planet. It must have been a fair amount of time because judging by the size of him, no spacecraft would be able to haul him off the ground, let alone create a parachute large enough to stop him from becoming Larry Fishcake on the planet’s surface.
Not that it matters because before you can re-arrange ‘jump’, ‘shark’, ‘the’ and ‘ing’ into something that makes more sense than the script, he’s exploded by one of the buggers who’s not overly concerned with taking a souvenir from the one prey they’ve been chasing for 10 years. Then again, maybe their mantelpiece wasn’t sturdy enough to support a larger-than-life-size ashtray made from Larry Fishburne.
Speaking of the Predators themselves, the filmmakers have already described the supernewawesome ones as iPods to the original film’s Walkman. They’re not. They’re more like the Zune: largely pointless, kind of stupid and only their creators think they’re a good idea. If you are after a slightly tenuous Apple analogy, with their insistence in tediously demonstrating their fancy new gadgets they’re much like an aggressive bunch of early iPad adopters, ruthlessly demonstrating the ‘ultimate user interface’ to control a weird robot bird thing.
Despite the changes, what ultimately raises ire above mere apathetic levels is the laboured references to the original film. Lines and situations are recycled for no other reason than to remind you that a better film will no doubt be starting on ITV 4 in the next few minutes. Adrian Brody’s casting is, on one hand, a step in an interesting direction but by the time he’s covered him in mud and engaging in fisticuffs you’ll finally understand why the Children’s Film Foundation never added “Sammy’s Super Predator” to their roster.
I could go on about the film’s flaws* but what would be the point? The best version has already been made and it seems that even half-decent filmmakers are unable to summon up the effort required to make a good contemporary re-imagining But since the original still holds up as a master class of action cinema with perfect pacing almost infinite rewatchability it seems they, like pencil-pusher Dillon, just didn’t know when to quit. Shame.
*For example: Does the Japanese character only have a sword fight because, well, he’s Japanese? Or the scene under the waterfall which not only contains a nonsensical recount of the first film but also includes advice on how to hide from their hunters, which is strangely ignored. Basically, the whole film is a Russian doll made out of nonsense.
“Wads wid dis fackin tie bizness?”
The original Predator is the very definition of a guilty pleasure. Unlike most 80s action cinema it falls somewhere between genre transcending classic and Internet meme, depending on who you’re talking to, how well you know them and how much you’ve had to drink.
If Predator’s legacy could be defined by anything it’s as the go-to film for anytime you’re suitably inebriated, staring at a big black rectangle in the company of your fellow man and simply feel like dusting off that Y chromosome. Or alternatively, when you simply can’t be bothered to watch your Tarkovsky boxset for the 100th time.
So the upcoming release of Predators is kind of a big deal; it’s like Twilight for people who can grow facial hair, Sex and the City for those that don’t try to hide their facial hair, or Episode 1 for those whose tears have long since been absorbed by facial hair.
Basically, if facial hair worked on a pH indicator scale then the release of Predators would be a piece of litmus paper and the end result would be yellow, or blue, or whatever a chemist might deem the most exciting colour.
But with excitement comes apprehension. And understandably so, what they’ve done to the Predator in the remaining years makes what happened to ‘Chim’ Hopper’s men in the jungles of Central America look remarkably civilised.
First up they pitched him against Danny Glover, who was by then already well known for trying to ruin action films by being old. Then they added Gary Busey to the mix, an actor who’s so far through the looking glass, he makes the story of a giant sociopathic alien hunting a gang of Aswad gone Asbad Jamaican psychos in a war torn Los Angeles of the future seem like one of Alan Bennett’s scripts for Talking Heads that didn’t make the grade because it was too realistic. And if that wasn’t humiliating enough, they featured a scene where the Predator was ‘hilariously’ twatted by an old woman with a broom.
Is it any wonder they gave up acting for over a decade?
Then came the Aliens Vs Predator films, whose most notable achievement was making people who declared AvP 1 as: “the worst piece of fucking shit I’ve ever seen” revise their statements by the time of the almost biblically shit part 2 starting stinking up cinemas. Incidentally, it was also around this time that people began to look forward to the Mayan prophecies of 2012 (if not Roland Emmerich’s film – lulz) and Al Gore switched off Powerpoint and began to look at videos of amusing cats on Youtube.
But now we have Predators, the announcement of which was met by almost universal derision from its target audience. I mean, Predator was an embarrassingly simple premise executed to perfection (minus Carl Weather’s comedy magic arm), so to follow up with 1 disappointment and 2 outright abortions is proof that if Satan is real, he’s no longer encouraging misguided people to smoke loaded shotguns, he’s out there convincing them to give Paul WS Anderson work (that’s also assuming PWS Anderson isn’t actually Satan himself, which wouldn’t exactly be reaching).
By that rationale the fact that Predators looks pretty damn good could well be proof that not only does God exist, but he (‘she’, ‘it’ or whatever you might call a nebulous gas) is marking his (or hers, its or whatever a gas does) appearance with winning lottery tickets, a fourth series of Deadwood and a mass-smiting of the Radio 1 building and anyone who’s appeared on All Star Family Fortunes (the Vernon Kaye version – Les Dennis has suffered enough).
Of course I’m going by a trailer so accusations of hyperbole wouldn’t be completely unfounded. But in this day and age, when a sequel to ‘Went the Day Well?’ would probably be called ‘Yes’, you’ve got to have hope. And even if it is crap, at least we’ll always have Predator.
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