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Summertime Rolls 2010: Predators

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Well, at least its Rated ‘R.’  I don’t know if I could stand another downgrade in the rating system from a franchise that screams ‘R’ (if not the sweet spot that is “Hard ‘R’”).  We watched it happen to Die Hard a few summers ago, and Terminator last summer.  Actually, we HAVE already seen it happen to Predator, as the original Alien vs. Predator film was rated PG-13.

So when they announced a return to Predator’s roots, which I guess means that it is set in the jungle again and there are no attempts at cross-pollinating franchises, I got excited. It really did seem like the people in charge (Robert Rodriguez for one) knew what they were doing, and that they were going to correct the pussification of the Predators, which is what had happened to them during the dark AvP years.

Yeah, the casting was a bit suspect.  For every Danny Trejo, there was a Topher Grace.  Now, I like Topher Grace, and I expected him to have the “Paul Reiser from Aliens” role in this (or the “Giovanni Ribisi from Avatar” role, to be more current).  You know, the sniveling corporate suit who puts the almighty dollar above human life.  I’m both happy and sad to report that I was wrong- the movie isn’t that predictable, but unfortunately, the plot asks for a little more from Topher, and I’m not sure he pulled it off.  Well, I am sure.  He didn’t pull it off.

You know who else is in this?  Larry Fishburne!  I only mention this because he is in every advertisement for the movie, but having seen it, I think he is supposed to be a surprise that arrives at around the halfway point.  Now, I’m not sure what Big Pore Larry (for he does have enormous pores) was trying to do here, but I suspect he is trying to cross over into the “Weird Character Actor” stage of his career.  You know, the stuff that Christopher Walken has been doing for the last 20 years or so.  It doesn’t work as well for Big Pore Larry.  I won’t tell you what he IS doing in this movie, but it seemed like a nod to Aliens, except instead of a tiny white girl clutching a doll head he is a burly black guy talking to imaginary friends.  But enough of stating the obvious, right?

So why do another Predator movie?  It must be because there is a great new idea, yes?  The much ballyhooed (what does it mean to ballyhoo?  Have you ever ballyhooed anything?) “New Predators” are a disappointment, mainly in the fact that they aren’t all that different from the “Old Predators.”  One character compares the difference between them to that of a wolf and a dog.  Its not even that distinguished.  It’s more like the difference between a Black Lab and a Chocolate Lab.

So its set in the jungle and the Predators are pretty much the same.  Do you care that it isn’t Earth if it looks exactly like Earth?  No?  Then there is no real difference from the first one, except it isn’t as good.  The team of bad-asses here just don’t compare to Arnold’s team of bad-asses.  And there isn’t one single cast member that I think will go on to be a governer of a state, much less two.

At least in Alien vs. Predator, there was some fan interest in what that would that match-up would look like, despite the lackluster results.  Here… well, you’ve seen it.  Group lands in the jungle.  Predators attack.

Oh, and it takes FOREVER for the Predators to appear!  I get that you want to build suspense if this were the first movie in the series.  But is there anyone in the audience who doesn’t know that these characters are being hunted by Predators?  Just get to the Predators already.

This isn’t a total bust- there is some good stuff in it.  Walton Goggins is great, as he always is in everything he does. I liked a scene when the team of bad-asses stumbles into a field of booby traps.  And there is a pretty cool scene when the Predators try to lure the team into a trap by imitating one of the main characters.   Brody is fine, but just looks way too much like Pee Wee Herman to be taken seriously in a movie like this.  That isn’t his fault, but nonetheless…

I would say this is about as good as Predator 2, and better than both of the AvP movies.  I would be shocked, though, if this reinvigorates the franchise, I am sorry to say.

Man, is this summer going to get better?  Inception better be good.

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