Monday, November 8, 2010


One of my friends saw this in theaters and helpfully informed me that it was the best Predator movie since the second one, which has to rank among the faintest praise a major motion picture can get. Better than Alien vs. Predator and Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem??? Why, it must be a classic!

Well, fortunately, it did turn out to be pretty good after all. This is a little surprising, considering how director Nimrod Antal’s previous film Armored was one of the most tedious cop movies I’ve ever seen (he also directed Vacancy, which I thought was decent, but I seem to be a minority opinion there). The plot’s pretty simple: a group of Earth’s toughest badasses wakes up in freefall above a jungle, where they start banding together and realize they’ve been selected as prey for an alien race of big game hunters. Led by Adrien Brody, they now have to try to find a way off this alien world and make their way back home before any of the predators now hunting them can finish them all off.

Since it’s an action movie, we can start our analysis of the film with that. A good deal for the film, too, as the action scenes are the best parts of the movie, though they still aren’t anything that amazing. Too many of these sequences either feel fairly generic and unoriginal, or feel like they were blatantly designed to evoke the memory of the original (most keenly felt when the yakuza character decides to buy the rest of the team time by staying back to go one on one with a predator while armed only with a katana, shades of Billy from the first film). The ones that work best tend to be earlier on, when they’re accidentally triggering traps that have been placed around, or when they fight off a pack of horn-covered beasts that are set upon them.

I can’t give this a firm recommendation, as the film’s various flaws tend to be too numerous and pervasive to comfortably ignore. There’s the problem of the dialogue, which gives us such classic lines as “Your ass is amazing” and “Come on, you alien faggot. Come on, come on, come on, come on!” There’s the completely unsurprising third act revelation that the quiet and seemingly out of place doctor (Topher Grace) is actually the worst one of them all. There’s the troublesome CG, which makes the film look like it was rushed to make it in theaters by its release date before it was really finished (this is particularly noticeable during one high speed pan through the jungle, where -- well, let’s just say it doesn’t look quite as impressive as Avatar, but more like a PS2 game). Antal does try to overcome the screenplay’s various weaknesses by hiring a bunch of actors talented enough to partially compensate for it, from Walt Goggins to Laurence Fishburne to Danny Trejo, but they mostly have a thankless task trying to overcome the dialogue they’re given (Goggins in particular has such terrible lines, including the ass line above, that it was almost depressing to see how far Shane Vendrell has fallen). Louis Changchien, as the yakuza character, somehow manages to fare the best, but that almost certainly has to do with how almost all of his lines are in Japanese.

I would have off-handedly assumed that any of you considering watching this would have managed to already, but IMDB sadly informs me that it only made $52 million in theaters, roughly $30 million less than the first Alien vs. Predator did. This may be a somewhat mediocre effort, but it deserves better than that, at least. Still, while I hesitate to ever call something a rental only (after all, the movie’s either worth seeing or it isn’t), this is definitely one you won’t want to blind buy.

Rating: ** ½

1 comment:

katsucurrys14 said...

vastly superior to predator 2, avp1 and avp2. it's unambitious, yes, but i think it is doomed to be as such, as the franchise is weighed down by both a huge side universe and by its own nostalgia. solid effort here for what it was.