Thursday, July 15, 2010

What the Hell Are You?

So I was talking to Andy, an old work buddy of mine on Facebook (yeah, apparently that's still a "thing") and he says he wants to get together sometime and "hang out."  Knowing Andy I know that "hanging out" in his mind means doing blow off the tits of some strippers, killing some homeless people and dumping their mutilated bodies in the river after eating their genitals to increase our sexual prowess, followed by a circle jerk with him and five of his closest crackhead friends during which time we all cum on a piece of bread, pass it to the left when finished and then everyone chows down.

"So how about it, Nathan?" Andy says.

"I don't know, Andy.  How about we go catch a movie instead?"

"Fine, whatever you pussy.  How about we go catch this movie Predators, biatch?"

"That sounds like a mutually agreeable heterosexual male bonding ritual," I said.

When I got to the theatre I found Andy yelling at the manager.  Turns out he thought Predators was about perverts in nondescript, unmarked vehicles stalking children waiting for the right time to strike, a subject Andy has a special interest in.  He was yelling at the manager about "false advertising" and "entrapment."  After twenty minutes Andy's friends and I were able to calm him down and we grabbed a seat in the theatres to see about the (as far as we know) non-child molesting Predators.  You know, the aliens with the cloaking devices, and crazy Wolverine-style blades, and crazy awesome dreads.

So obviously I wasn't going into this movie expecting it to be a cinematic masterpiece.  I didn't even have high hopes that Predators would succeed in any memorable way as an action showpiece.  I'm a total diehard fan of the original Predator made all the way back in 1987.  I mean that was Arnold Schwarzenegger during his action glory days and Predator was classic 1980's testosterone-filled, impossibly big gun toting, ridiculously repeatable one-liner delivering, gloriously gore-laced, action packed awesomeness.  I mean the magic from that film and others like it just can't be captured again.  There was some mix of ridiculousness and hardcore action that just seems to be lost to filmmakers these days, just like the methods of building without cranes power tools are lost in the sands of time.  There was something (maybe the minimum 40-inch biceps requirement) about Predator that just made it eternally cool.

I will say I wasn't totally right about Predators, but neither was I wrong.  I won't say that there was the same kind of magic that the original had that will make it transcend others in the genre like the original.  What I can say about Predators is: it was what it was.  This statement may seem kind of vague and a little bland, but then so is the movie it describes.

The plot follows a group of apparent badasses and Topher Grace for some reason who are dropped quite violently into the middle of the jungle.  These strangers are mostly military with a mix of mercenary, cartel enforcer and death row con mixed in for good measure.  With no memory of how they ended up in this jungle they quickly discover that they are being hunted by persons unknown.  They quickly realize that A) they are no longer on planet Earth and B) they are being hunted by a group of aliens who live for the hunt.  As they are slowly killed off one by one they formulate a plan of escape involving an alien spaceship and a final, climactic showdown with even bigger, more badass Predators than ever before.

There's not much I can really say about this movie.  It was a pretty standard group-of-strangers-from-different-backgrounds-who-must-grudgingly-work-together-to-survive scenario.  There was an adequate amount of action and gore but nothing really memorable.  There was some effort made to differentiate the characters but they turned out as little more than slightly amusing cliches, like the tough, solitary leader, the token black guy, the token woman, the token Hispanic, the token Asian who ends up wielding (surprise, surprise) a samurai sword, and the comic relief.  I mean it was amusing and all, but only two days after watching the movie and it's already starting to fade in my memory.  This could be chalked up to my terrible memory brought on by a lack of Vitamin E in my diet, an excess of alcohol, and brain damage brought on by numerous blows to the head... sorry I forgot what my point here was.

I wasn't sure how or if I was going to buy Adrien Brody as the tough guy lead and basically the new Schwarzenegger and to be honest I'm still not sure.  Just when he was starting to convince me he'd spout some really obvious tough guy dialogue in his gruff, supposedly tough guy voice and he'd lose credibility with me.  It's not about sounding tough, it's about exuding toughness, whether it be real or not and in my mind Brody just does not exude that toughness, at least not in this movie.  Or at least not consistently.   One thing I will say is that in the final showdown when Brody was shirtless he looked fucking huge.  He's got kind of a lankier build but he looked like he'd been hitting the gym pretty hard and damn I was impressed... in a totally heterosexual way of course. (A-hem)  I've always loved Danny Trejo and I'm glad to see him getting more work in higher profile projects.  Can't wait for Machete.  Topher Grace was, of course, the comic relief but most of the movie he just felt out of place.  There was a really weird and sloppily handled turn for his character late, late in the movie where he actually got to do something a little darker, but overall I could have taken of left him.  Honourable mention goes out to Walton Goggins who plays a convict who was two days away from his execution and if Grace's character had been left out entirely this guy would have easily covered the humour.  It wasn't just his lines which were funny ("Man let me tell you, if I get out of here... I'm going to do so much cocaine.  I'm going to rape so many bitches.  Yeah it's after 5:00.  Time to do some coke and rape some bitches.") but his delivery of them.  Alice Braga did a competent job as well, but really the only reason I mentioned her is so that I have some pretext to show some pictures.

  The predators themselves were handled very well and shown very sparingly which worked well.  They all had slight variations in their armour to differentiate them but they remained true to the original look.  The new bigger predators (aparently there's some racial tension amongst these gentle giants) looked pretty cool when one was finally unmasked at the very end and they felt threatening enough.  It just seems now that they're getting a little too easy to kill.  I mean in the original they have som much trouble dealing with just one, but these guys manage to take out a total of three.  Not a huge amount, but still. 

Another thing I liked was that that the characters were so quick to leave each other behind for the good of the group.  That was a fantastic touch.  It's so fucking annoying in movies when the characters walk into a trap so obvious even they know it's a trap and get themselves into even more trouble.  In this movie not only did they leave each other behind when it was pretty clear that they were fucked, sometimes they even but each other out of their misery.  You know, with a bullet.

There were lots of nods to the original Predator, which didn't really help this movie, but they were still cool.  Braga's character goes over a report that was obiously a direct reference to Schwarzenegger's charcter Dutch.  Then there was Adrian Brody covered in mud taking on a predator with low-tech means.  Then I suppose there's the whole jungle setting.  There was a predator ripping a dude's spine and attatched skull out of his victim's body, but I'm pretty sure Ozzy Osbourne did that at a concert once years ago.  Of course that could also be the acid talking.  Then there was the scene where Louis Ozawa Changchien's character stays behind to face this nameless terror alone with only sword for no aparent reason much like Billy (OK, exactly like Billy) from the first movie.  Although this time the the dude actually brings down a predator in a pretty cool fight, although at the cost of his own life.  Oh yeah, ths SPOILER ALERT thing.  I keep forgetting.

So overall, even though my friend Andy was expecting a much different, more risque movie, Predators was alright.  It was a highly forgetable piece of action fluff, that while moderately entertaining offers almost nothing memorable or highly unique.  It is another name on a long list of disappointing movies this season, but what can you expect when it's directed by a guy named Nimrod?  (I kid, I kid)  Also, what the hell was Laurence Fishburne doing in there?  Aside from some needless exposition his character serves no real purpose.  Just like this sentence (which is technically just a sentence fragment).  Really makes you think.  I give Predators a 5.5/10 = One Decapitated Alien Hunter's Head With A Mouth Like A Mutated, Murderous Vagina


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