While TSR has so far presented many episodes of "He Said - She Said ..." not many are as polarizing as this discussion about the new Adrien Brody movie, Predators. On one side, we have the She, Morrow McLaughlin, who "Loved, loved, loved it!" On the complete opposite side of that statement stands myself, a lone and unamused desperado representing the "He" side. PLOT: Soldiers, including Royce (Brody), fall from the sky and land in a jungle. They soon learn they’re being hunted by an alien race. As always, we recommend you see the film before reading on, as spoilers are fair game. Let it begin!
A movie like Predators should kick ass. This movie, which happens to be called Predators doesn't. Why? A lot of reasons. Instead of arming its wide cast with an arsenal of awesome action scenes, they are written into cliches, and bellow lines that lost their cool 20 years ago. Adrien Brody, whose dialogue turns him into Captain Obvious, has the audacity to say, "I missed my ride" under some attempted snarl towards the end of the movie, and that is just one example. The cliches aren't saved just for the dialogue, but also into the story's structure. How many times in an action sci-fi or horror movie are we going to see a person trick the enemy by using the "I got a grenade for ya!" trick? This movie does that twice. When Boss Predator makes his last stand, he shoots one of his kitchen knives into Bland Supply of Estrogen A and of course he nails her in the heart - but no worries she's just wounded, she'll survive for the "THE END?!" conclusion. Then you have the typical "I Love This Place Now!" psychopath played by Eric Foreman (excuse me, I mean Topher Grace). Even the Predators, which I assume are not meant to feel like guys in suits, fight like typical macho men. They can take their dramatic time with a kill, and let the on-screen protagonist think, "Oh golly, I'm dead now!" or they can just get it over and slay. Whatever looks "cooler," I suppose.
The lameness of this movie had me thinking: Is Predator still relevant as a villain that we can be afraid of, despite not being placed in a jungle ourselves, or are we just "afraid" of the pain they can bring to us? Besides, does one feel much pain when their spine is yanked out of their bodies like the way a mom rips out an XBox electrical cord when their kids are playing/watching too much crap?
Oh, and what the f**k, was I watching an episode of LOST, or was this a Predator movie? Is the real ending that they're all dead, in purgatory, or are they just trapped in a dumb movie?
Nick, I can't say that you've ever boggled my mind to this degree. I am truly astonished. And for the first time, I wonder if you actually set out to dislike WICKED AWESOME F*CKING COOL MOVIES LIKE Predators? Do you say to yourself as you stride into the theater: "Self, no matter how fun and enjoyable this fluffy summer blockbuster is, I will tenaciously hate it while I drink my tea pinkies up." Is that what you do? Come on, man, 'fess up. It's just you and me and all the other readers who will totally freakin' love Predators and assume you must be a deaf-mute, here. This is a very supportive crowd.
What does it take, man? If the original Predator was released today, I think you'd dislike it, which means it's actually grandfathered into your good graces because you saw it when you were young. Now that you're old and crotchety and shaking your walking stick at the screen, you've let yourself get snobbish! And I say FOR SHAME!
Predators was a blast! I loved, loved, loved it! A few times I may have even snuck up to the front so I could rub myself against the screen. The pacing was great, the action was great, the characters were fun, and the writing did exactly what it was supposed to do. Adrien Brody is wonderful and fabulous and he kicked a bunch of ass as Royce. I didn't even mind the raspy Christian Bale Dark Knight impression he was doing, because he's phenomenal! And how DARE you refer to the muy delicioso Alice Braga as "Bland Supply of Estrogen A"? Two points about that: first, she wasn't bland; she's awesome! She was just as awesome in Predators as she was in Repo Men. And SECONDLY, why categorize her as "A" when she's the only chick in the whole film? Not only are you off base, but you're irrational!
You are like a crazy person!
I don't think society is safe from you, honestly. You should probably commit yourself for the good of humanity.
Me? Dislike "Wicked Awesome F*cking Cool Movies" intentionally? Never. Especially with action movies, I never "set out" to dislike them, and I am always disappointed when they are not as much fun as they may seem. You're talking to a person who claims honestly that Commando, one of the definitive "Wicked Awesome F*cking Cool Movies" is also one of his personal top, top, top favorites. And yes, I happen to think Predator is also on a level of awesome, but there are plenty of reasons why Predators is nowhere near that movie's greatness. In fact, this new version, which feels as effective and as much fun as those lame AVP movies, is second-rate, or probably third rate. And THAT is the shame there - that the creative forces behind this, including Robert Rodriguez, couldn't make this movie resemble the awesome action-blast of fun one has with Predator. (Whereas someone like Stallone found a way to make a fourth Rambo movie almost as good, if not equal to the previous installments of that franchise.)
In terms of action, the Predators fun completely pales to even the first half of Predator. In Predator, they blow up (and I mean BLOW UP) some base full of bad guys, which provides a plethora of bullets O'Flyin fun, along with a whole boatload of explosions. Then, the title villain unleashes a couple of unexpected kills in a "slow burn" fashion that works there, but becomes a bit tedious in Predators. This new movie focuses on building up mystery, which I was originally cool with. The questions pile on top of each other before any sort of body count. But once the action came in, it was typical, as delivered by characters who don't do anything particularly special with their archetype. Oh, look, a death row inmate, a random guy from Sierra Leone, Danny Trejo, even a random Yakuza thug with a sword. When it's revealed that they're connected by being killers, that's an OK set-up. But are any of them really special? No. But Predator presented a group of commandos whose actors made their presence special if not unforgettable. You can remember those characters not because of any previous association with other movies/wrestling. When Carl Weathers dies in Predator you feel his pain - it's your dismembered arm too that is firing the machine gun, while we scream in low-pitch agony. Here, the prey scamper around, they get maimed, and you have to remind yourself later of "Wait, who is alive? Oh, right, that Sierra Leone guy died a while back. Whatever." (To me, this is the instant indication of a bad horror sci-fi flick "fluffy summer blockbuster flick.") This movie even has Danny F-ing Trejo, Machete-himself, and he still can't be spruced up with some great dialogue, or a particularly badass moment. For Predators you don't care about these guys and doll, except maybe for Brody, and because of this, you especially don't care about whether they live or die or not. Then, you start realizing that you're not afraid of sh*t when it comes to this movie, except maybe for the perplexing jaw structure of Boss Predator. Which is a feeling that usually lends itself towards not caring much for the movie overall. This isn't some rule that applies just to movies somehow connected to Predator.
Predator embraced its B-movie nature, but still decided to make itself to be a special experience. There are dozens of great lines from that movie. Is there even one good line from this one? No. It makes "Get to the choppa!" or "I ain't got time to bleed" sound like Shakespeare in comparison. And the line "We have to conserve ammunition!" which follows an actual conservation of ammunition, just indicates how dinky this movie is in comparison to Schwarzenegger's original beast. Also, this movie takes itself far too serious overall. What's the comic relief of this movie? "I'm gonna rape some fine bitches?" "I'm gonna do a lot of cocaine?" Ha ha?
As for Brody, yeah, he's tolerable. His gravelly voice works, and I believed that after the movie was over I wouldn't want to fight him. But his Arnold impersonation is just silly. Schwarzenegger fought the Predator "man to alien," and Brody scampers around like a mouse, making this originally bold scene become head-shake worthy. And he was a clever man, but his dialogue is again, Capt. Obvious. How many times do we have to hear "We're being hunted!" "We're the game!" "It's toying with us!" before the people actually in the movie start understanding themselves what the hell is going on?
Please go outside and make sure you are on Planet Earth, and have not actually been transported to some Predator-Planet with a lot of moons and funky water that toys with the condition of its inhabitants, and worst of all, tricks you into thinking that this movie is worth loving.
You make a compelling and intelligent argument and it's just so unfortunate that you're wrong. I wish you could be convinced to fight on the side of good, because it's daunting knowing someone of your verve and intellect is off somewhere defending definitive wrongness.
You're right about one thing: Commando is a wicked awesome f*cking cool movie, but I stand by my belief that if you saw that movie nowadays, you'd HATE it. Your standards now and your standards then do not line up, because back in the day you were young and innocent and carefree. Now you're grouchy. Very, very grouchy. Commando is an awesome action movie 80's style, but as far as the writing and pacing goes, it's not that much better "quality-wise" than Predators. They are in the same category as really, really fun and improbable violent cotton candy, but you staunchly defend the one you saw when you were a kid. I challenge you: what are a few really fluffy Commando style action movies RECENTLY that you've loved with the same fervor? And don't you dare say that nothing since has measured up, because that's a cop-out.
Now, to address a few of your admittedly excellent, albeit quite wrong points: "Get to the choppa" isn't a great line because of the writing; it's funny because of Arnold's accent and delivery. What if some random character just yelled, "Get to the chopper!" would you still be thinking about it? No, sir! Although, I gotta give it to you, "I ain't got time to bleed" rules the roost. But what about Predators? Where, Morrow, you're saying, are the good lines from our current debate? When the characters are questioning why Brody wants to go a certain direction he says, "So I can find out who threw me out of a f*cking airplane." Awesome and bad-ass. When Brody is determined to leave the group behind because they're too poky, Braga holds his attention by saying, "You wanna see something f*cked up?" It's original and it's good psychology. The women in other movies would've gone into long, windy speeches about "how dare you leave us" and "how could you" but she keeps him there by offering up a tidbit no one could resist. LOVED IT!
And I liked the "I'm going to do so much cocaine and rape me some bitches," not because of the guy delivering the line, but because of Topher's reaction to it. When Topher inches away and sits down with Nikolai, Nikolai says, "Stay away from him," and Topher says, "Yep." And it's quick and fun and perfect. Plus, the "I'm going to do so much cocaine" line is tremendous in it's delivery. The convict actually pauses at the end of "...so much..." in order to make the audience think he's going to say, "...good in the world. I'm going to really get my sh*t together and make up for all the wrongs." Nope! He's looking forward to his continued evil existence, and that goes against the formula.
As for the final fight scene, I thought it was excellent. Adrien Brody isn't an Arnold, and it would be a huge mistake to try to pass him off as one. He's gangly, not meaty and manful. So Brody's strength has to be speed and agility, especially against something that hulking and powerful. It was handled EXACTLY right.
Now for the movie's dingleberries. I was so excited to see Danny Trejo, and then they kill him off so fast, it was insulting. Since Rodriguez and Trejo did Machete together, I assume the conversation went something like this: "Hey Danny. Wanna do a bit part in Predators?" "Hell, yes I do!" Except, he's way too tough and cool to die that fast, so it's an irritating letdown. Kill off Nikolai, the Russian guy first. No one gives a flip about that guy.
And the score. The score! My God, the score! Yes, I understand that I'm supposed to feel that there's peril on the way! Stop yowling at me, score! Stop it! I get it! They're walking through the scary jungle! Enough with the drums and the horns! Go away! Let me feel things on my own without you yammering away at me at top volume! Coincidentally, Jeff loved the score but he's...you know...a bit off in the head, so I let it go.
Off the top of my head, I have little to no shame in saying I had a blast with The A-Team, which to me fits the categorization we've been talking about. You want to talk about "fluffy summer blockbusters"? Check out the implausibly awesome action brought together by a solid cast and great moments of ass-kicking. Yeehaw!
I found the score to be distracting in some points - especially when the characters were holed up in Laurence Fishburne's slammin' bachelor pad, the strings just kept playing this typical descending line and it just felt tedious. It was nice to hear "Long Tall Sally" at the end credits. Sarcastically I imagine it would be fun to hear that song played during more some of the action scenes, especially Brody's scamerping around fire fight. But on a serious note, is it just me, or was the "Predator" theme only played once? During the crawling credits? What gives?
Oh, and if you want to talk about dingleberries - how about the movie underrating Laurence Fishburne's presence? He should've stuck around for at least a little bit longer, instead of being reduced to a twenty-minute appearance. He was channeling some Samuel L. Jackson-type craziness, and it worked. His appearance, while anticipated, also came at an unexpected time.
Yes, I think sometimes Jeff might possibly be "a little off in the head," especially considering his TSR grade for this unsatisfying movie - an 8/10. That's crazy talk. I am going to give it a 3/10. I gave it a second shot, and the re-visit didn't help my cause of finding good in this movie. I was reminded that there are a couple of turns that are unexpected, but I was also reminded of how lame all of the aforementioned areas are.
What would you give it? Could you watch this again, and soon? What do you think happens after the movie cuts to black? Do they walk face-first into another invisible spaceship? Doink!
Doink? Gosh, I hope so! Best ending ever.
Oh, and I agree with you about Laurence Fishburne's character. He's this phenomenal survivor who's made it through the last ten years with everything intact except his sanity, and he gets killed off that fast? Bad choice. Just allow him to escape into the wilderness so he can continue doing his own thing. Especially since I really dug that crazy dude and I wouldn't mind having him around for a sequel. Oh, well. Danny Trejo and Laurence Fishburne...wasted opportunities.
But besides that and the DUM-DUM-BOOM-BOOM-DDUUUMMMM!!! score, I loved Predators. I'd see it again and I'd buy it when it comes out on DVD. It's an action movie and a creature feature, and next to PB&J, it's my favorite combination. And if you think Jeff's loony, get a load of this: I'd give it a 8.5/10, so take that! Yes, it would've been more dramatic if I'd said 9, but I can't force it just to bug you. I am tempted, though.
By the way, if you mean what you say about A-Team, then I'll back right off your case. I honestly thought I'd stump you with that one, so as long as you're being HONEST with me and yourself and the rest of the world...then I take back what I said on a probationary basis. I'm still going to be keeping a close eye on you, though. You know I read all your reviews, and I'm just that variety of psycho who would study all your reviews for the next few years to see if I could definitively prove that you were softer on movies from your youth. And because I'm female, I'd use that against you ad infinitum every single time we did one of these He Said/She Saids. "Well," I'd say, and oh I'd be smug about it, "You would take that stance, since you purposefully dislike movies you would've loved ten years ago." Stuff like that. And if I have THAT kind of edge over you, I might as well just turn into a nagging online girlfriend who is constantly asking you what you're thinking, if you think that other girl is pretty, and whether or not these watermelon patterned hot-pants make me look fat. You don't want that.