Just when you thought Alien vs. Predator – Requiem (2007) had exhausted both the Alien and the Predator series, Predators is now on DVD, after a summer run, no less.
So what would make viewers want to see another Predator film? Big names and a decent script seem to be paramount, according to the studio. Predators is based on a screenplay by Robert Rodriguez (Desperado (1995), Planet Terror (2007), etc.) and stars some well-known names. It at looks to be getting back to what made the series popular in the first place – big names and solid action.
So would the result be worth our time, or should this series have stayed dead?
The cast is decent, if not spectacular, in Predators. Adrien Brody, who most will remember from his role in Peter Jackson’s King Kong, is at the forefront. He manages to take his rather geeky role in King Kong, drop the googly eyes, and turn in a surprisingly good performance as a mercenary.
The biggest surprise is Topher Grace, the man who helped make Spider-Man 3 (2007) so bad as an incredibly miscast Venom. Looking to be out of place for most of the film, his doctor character provides a sort of everyman appeal for the viewers. When he finally does start fitting in, the switch seems both natural and surprising for the viewers – but still in tune with his character. He shows a lot more range in this monster pic than he has so far, and viewers should enjoy the role.
Predators also features a special guest appearance by Laurence Fishburne, who turns out to play crazy just as well as he plays straight and sober. His rantings are both a bit of comic relief and ominous. Just by being there, he seems to inspire the rest of the cast to do a better job.
The plot is a bit out there, with random mercenaries plucked from different parts of our world and suddenly transported to this alien world. But, director Nimrod Antal does a good job of taking this far-fetched plot and giving it substance and getting viewers to suspend a bit of their disbelief for the film. With the viewer never getting a view of Earth, and joining these warriors as they suddenly find themselves falling through the sky with parachutes strapped to their backs, Antal immediately grabs the viewer’s attention. By adding in that bit of mystery of how these particular warriors arrived at a strange alien planet (and why), Antal helps keep the viewer tuned in a bit more, and manages to connect them a bit quicker to the characters.
The Predators themselves have undergone another evolution as well, this time warring amongst two different classes of themselves as much as they are hunting the humans. It’s an interesting new wrinkle, and gives the writers ample new material not just for this film, but for more that may follow. Of course, this doesn’t mean there are human-loving Predators now. Instead it’s two different types of hunters, with each one successively stronger than the last. There are many similarities to previous versions, however, so the viewer won’t feel like this is a new foe, but rather just a bigger peek into how Predator society works.
Keeping the familiarity of the Predators is key, as this strange new hunting paradise and the new warrior characters bring enough freshness to the series. Thankfully, the jungle setting rings familiar bells of the Scharwenegger starrer Predator (1987) that started it all. Toss in a new wrinkle for the Predators, and a new foe in the form of vicious attack dogs. Add in the unknown aspects of each of the warriors that make them distrustful of each other despite the danger they face. And, thanks to some solid performances, Predators turns out to be a decent evolutionary step for the series.
Sure, it’s still a monster movie at heart. But, the thrill of the fight and the tension mounting as these strangers are hunted on an forbidding world, works well. It manages to make it one monster movie with something that will keep the audiences tuned in not just for the monsters, but to see how it all turns out in the end. Will these warriors manage to make it off this alien planet, or are they doomed to live out what’s left of their existence without ever seeing Earth again? And how many of these warriors will withstand the onslaught from their foes, and how many are nothing but cannon fodder?
Check it out today, and find out the answers for yourself. After all, the breath of fresh air of Predators, with it’s whiffs of familiarity, revives the series nicely after the near fatal blow dealt by Alien vs. Predator – Requiem (2007). It definitely deserves a look.