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Notes On A Film: Predators

The World Cup finally beat the cinema: I didn’t go to the cinema for two weeks because the studios were so scared of a bunch of football games. The first film to come out after the drought was Predators, which is very different from the last four films I’ve talked about.

Everything you need to know about Predators can be seen in the poster: it is exactly the same as the first film, but there are three Predators causing trouble this time. This is to do with the origin of the script: Robert Rodriguez was asked to write a treatment to tempt Arnold Schwarzenegger in to a sequel after the success of the original film. Obviously, Arnie didn’t want to do it, the script lay dormant, until Rodriguez was asked to revive it (he is only a producer on the film).

The film follows a similar storyline: a group of fighters (randomly selected from various troubled spots around the world, either professional soldiers or killers in some fashion) is displaced to a dangerous place and have to fight back when they discover that they are not the hunters. Call it a homage, call it a reboot, call it an update – it is the first film except that they are on an alien planet (we see them being parachuted in at the start of the film), there is an even more ethnically diverse cast (including Japanese, African and Russian characters) and there are two more aliens to worry about. The ‘Ten Little Indians’ style plot is the same – we watch as the cast gets whittled down, including Danny Trejo, Lawrence Fishburne and Walton Goggins (so enjoyable recently in the television series Justified) – and there are noble sacrifices from characters who previously seemed not quite so altruistic, as we head to the big showdown, which even pays tribute to the original with the use of mud to camouflage from the advanced sensors.

Oscar-winner Adrien Brody is an unlikely choice for the lead, but he has buffed up for the part and puts on a sufficiently gruff voice (a bit like Christian Bale doing Batman), so he doesn’t embarrass himself. Alice Braga is the tough female (although the only one), who also provides a link to the original Predator film, as her character comes from the area where the original happened and she had heard of the story of the beast in the jungle. The film is directed with functionality, there are a few jokes, the story progresses logically, the Predators are impressive and the special effects are good.

This is a ‘Saturday night out with the boys’ kind of film – it does what it is supposed to do in an unfussy manner and provides the pyrotechnics and thrills as required. It is nothing special but it is not awful either – perfectly serviceable and entertaining. It won’t be troubling the original film for longevity, but at least the original film never lied in the trailer – the Predators trailer had a scene where Brody’s character stands up to find himself covered with the trademark three-sighted laser dots on his body, rather than the actual three that occur in the film.

Rating: DVD

[Explanation of my updated film rating system]

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