Sunday, July 11, 2010

If It Bleeds, We Can Kill It (Predator vs Predators)

The following conversation happened on Wednesday morning, approximately 8:35am

Mikey, in a text:  Wanna go see the new Predators Friday night?
Me, responding in a text:  Absolutely. 
Mikey:  Which theater works best for you?
Me: Lee Branch if that's cool
Mikey:  7:40 show?  Dinner before?
Me: There's a bunch of places around here.  How about Zaxby's?
Mikey:  See ya there.

So Friday night, me and Mikey met up at Zaxby's Chicken Finger Establishment for a quick bite to eat, then drove across the Lee Branch Shopping Complex to the Rave Motion Picture Theater. 

The film in question is a sequel to the 1987 Ahnald film, and opens up with our protagonists falling from the sky, parachuting down onto what turns out to be an alien planet.  The concept is that a bunch of criminals are dropped onto this planet, and are hunted for sport by The Predators. 

All the tokens are here, including Token Asian Yakuza Guy, Token Black Dude, Token Russian Gangster, Stereotypical Stupid American, Token Chick With Bad Accent and Token Mexican Dude... and in the leads, Adrien Brody as Token Tough Guy and Topher Grace as Token Fish Outta Water Guy. 

By now, we all know about The Predator.  It's this mean alien thing from another world who can camouflage itself, shoot lasery things from its shoulder and talks in clicking noises.  Whether you've seen the original or not, you probably know about it at least..

...which is why some of the "charm", so to speak, is lost on this sequel.  It will do, if you want it too, and its by far better than Predator 2, which joins a short list of films that most movie buffs agree do not actually exist except in myth--Rocky V, Caddyshack 2, Superman III and The Phantom Menace to name a few.  I'm also figuring that Alien vs Predator shouldn't really exist either, though the first one was almost a guilty pleasure of crap.

Anyway, one by one, each Token dies until the big face-off at the end.  I'm not telling you anything you can't figure out if you think about it, so don't feel like I'm giving the movie up for you.  Laurence Fishburne makes his all-too-short appearance somewhere in the middle, and we are treated to a few different versions of Predators--though the original does make an appearance as well. 

Adrien Brody is gruff, buff and almost hard to believe as the main guy, and Topher Grace is almost believable as a "what am I doing here?" guy, though towards the end you sense a twist coming, and you'd be right. 

Overall, its loaded with F-bombs and campy alien violence (you know, heads blowing up, people losing appendages and spines, blood splattering), and unless you are the kind of person who likes seeing action flicks on the big screen, it can easily be a rental in October or November.  Otherwise, a matinee will do just fine. 

Bonus points, though, for the homage and shout out to the original during this one, and for the Token Asian Yakuza Guy's fight scene.  He takes on a Predator in combat, and its all kinda awesome. 

When I left the movie theater around 9:45, I decided I needed to see the original again.  I stopped by Wal-Mart, hoping to find the Blu-Ray cheap, or better yet, the DVD in a $5 movie bin, but found neither.  What I found was a combo pack of "Predator/The Terminator" for $20 or "Predator/Commando" for $20, and though I wouldn't have minded owning "The Terminator" or "Commando" (one of the Top Five Most Craptastic Movies Ever), I didn't want to shell out $20.  

Smashcut to Sunday afternoon, having to drop by Staples for a few things, I decided to go to the nearby Best Buy and have a look-see for "Predator".  The original DVD was $9.99 and it was pretty bare-bones with no special features or anything else.  I found two versions of the Blu-Ray, the first being the basic for $19.99 and the next being "The Ultimate Hunter's Edition" for $24.99, but next to a sign that said "Ultimate Hunter's Edition -- $14.99". I took both to the register to see if maybe the regular was any cheaper, and it wasn't, still ringing up $19.99.  I bought "The Ultimate Hunter's Edition" and brought it home.

The Lovely Steph Leann and I went to see "Despicable Me" this afternoon (great, great film) and as we were driving home, I said, "Ya know, I want to watch 'Predator' tonight."  She grimaced at me, and I said, "Oh come on, I've watched enough Gilmore Girls to warrant this film."  She agreed, and consequently, I haven't seen her in the last two hours.

The basic story is that Ahnald and a group of soldiers are dropped into the jungles of the fictional country of Val Verde (the same country that Ahnald goes to get his kidnapped daughter from in "Commando" and the same country that the terrorist is being deported from in Die Hard 2: Die Harder), only to find that something is stalking and killing them one at a time.  Lots of F-bombs and lots of alien violence, like heads getting blown off and entrails being scattered hither and yon.

Anyway, its been years upon years since I've actually sat down and watched the original movie, and I gotta tell ya, my youth and memories may have romanticized how good this film actually is.  Meaning, its not as awesome as I remember. 

Perhaps that is just my expectations talking, or my sensitivity to bad special effects--when Dillion gets his arm blown off, the effect is borderline cheesy--or me wanting this film to be fabulous and it only being somewhat good.  And it is in fact, somewhat good. 

Here's what I marvel at, though.  Seeing this movie for the first time as a kid was absolutely astounding.  You don't see the Predator until the halfway mark, you only see the view through the thermal imaging they possess.  You see a transparent figure running through the jungles and trees, and its truly awesome when you finally see his mask and armor.  Then, when the Predator takes the mask off near the end, its even more awesome.  This is all coming from a guy, by the way--my wife could care less about this movie.

Don't get me wrong, its a good film.  Its original, its fun, its violent and its Arnold Schwarzenegger in his 80s action prime.  The death scenes are ridiculously over the top, including a gruesome end for Billy in a style that was duplicated in the new movie.  Just remember, this film is 1987 and things are a little more advanced movie-wise, so appreciate this for what it is. 

By the way, this is totally different from "To Catch a Predator"...

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