Predators (but the Movie is the Prey)

Movie Title: Predators (2010)
Spoilers: none


I didn’t enjoy watching Predators. I didn’t expect it to be great, but it calls for repeating that I didn’t enjoy watching it. What could as well stand to be repeated is that the Predator creation is a more than remarkable work of science fiction, utilizing so many enticing elements of Darwinism, and even some alien cultural anthropology. How many of us, having ever picked up a philosophy book or having watched with remote interest the Science Channel, could not be fascinated by at least hearing about these topics?

The Predator race is a race of big-brained animals, competitive beings that, so far as we know, live for the hunt and the kill. Such things are sacred to their kind, the two hallmarks on which their ethics are built. Not many of us are suckers for ethics, but a lot of us are admirers of Predator.

First, there was Predator (1987) and then the less impressive but no-slouching Predator II (1990). Since then, we’ve had the unworthy Alien vs. Predator (AVP) (2004) and the more unworthy Alien vs. Predator: Requiem (AVPR) (2007), and who knows how many fan fiction adaptations sailing around the web as they continue to do in the multiplying.

If you’ve seen the first two and were entertained by them, you likely know that the predators represent something; they represent humankind in their intelligence and ferocity and in their ability to adapt and survive; humans fear the predators, but themselves are the predators of their own world and in their own way. But if you haven’t seen the Alien vs. Predator series or the new Predators, you’re none the worse off. Predators is a noisy, ego-driven, low-functioning sci-fi addition to a series that already gave what it had to give.

What was lacking in Predator? You got to see the technology, the strengths and weaknesses of the creature, and the drive of the beast. You got more of the same in the second addition to the film. There you learned more on the adaptive-ness of this amazing alien race; you learned that predators aren’t confined to the trees or hot jungle climates. They can survive and thrive in smoggy inner cities.

But what do we learn in Predators? We learn that some writers think you’ll be taken more seriously the more you have characters that use the word “fuck” trivially. We learn that clichés used in tense situations generate suspense because we would say the same or similar things in the same situation(s). “We need to stick together.”

But we learn nothing relevant or fascinating about the creatures that the movie is titled after other than the fact that their home world is very similar to earth, only hotter, and with two giant moons or planets visible in the sky (so visible that celestial bodies orbiting this closely would likely destroy each other rather than sustain orbits). I am a sucker for astronomy.

All of the subtle elements of Predator I and II are stuck inside the cubbyholes here—the same music and sound affects are carefully inserted. You say to yourself early on: “I recognize that sound!” Then somebody dies. You knew you recognized that sound just before the next noisy and explosive onslaught of action or needless growling of the predators that seems never to end. Unfamiliar to you is where the story is heading. The music and nearly every bit of sound is a tease to what you remember and loved about Predator, but that doesn’t mean you will love this addition—by no means!

The crude and course acting is the first immediate giveaway that things won’t be like before. Still, there is something about a predator going after his prey using his planets’ own version of horned hunting dogs to flush out the human game. And the AVP line-up did one thing right, which was wet our lips for seeing our favorite tree-cloaked killers being put up against other fighters.

In this addition, the predators hunt down a samurai sword-wielder and Asian crime-lord, a convicted felon, and several militiamen, at least one of whom, Royce (Adrien Brody), has a good enough head on his shoulders to do more than survive. If that type of thing holds your interest, this will provide more than enough bloody, body count-raising action. Just be happy with the action because there’s nothing else, nothing but a poorly laid-out story that straddles the “my eyes are tired and I want to go home” fence. Take a 19-year-old to see it and you’ll feel that much older.

Worst of all for Predators is that the first and second movies did something that this farce of a fan-fiction-made-big-picture does not do, which is keep you in awe of this mysterious and powerful race of self-preservers. Win or lose, you were still impressed with these armed man-hunters in the earlier works. What next will they have up their sleeves? Where will they appear? What will they be planning? Surely there has to be a sequel, right? This one does no such thing. You are no longer impressed with their kind, and you could care less to see a sequel or to learn much of anything more.

There is so little to think about here, so little food for the mind. The most appetizing moment is a speech given by Isabelle (Alice Braga), as a woman who was present at the first contact with Predator in 1987 when the Central American village was attacked (where our trusty old Arnie and team were called in to take care of business).

Here, the focus shifts from the careful killers and their cunning use of deadly instinct and skills with alien technology, to pairs of unrelated and unconnected humans who must work together to survive, while the audience is offered only a smidgen more to think about than lines like: “Let’s get the fuck off this rock.” 

The obsession with cheap remakes can only stop when our macho obsession with cool gadgetry and shiny, futuristic toys stops. Only when flashy technology and a cheap desire for nostalgia fall in line second and third to intelligence and worthy storytelling skills will our science fiction begin to climb in quality.



Grade: D+ (1 and ½ stars)
Rated: R (for gore, language, and violence)
Director: Nimród Antal
Summary: A group of elite warriors are hunted by members of a merciless alien race known as Predators.
Starring: Adrien Brody "Royce," Topher Grace "Edwin," Alice Braga "Isabelle," Walton Goggins "Stans," Oleg Taktarov "Nikolai," Laurence Fishburne "Noland," Danny Trejo "Cuchillo"
Genre: Action / Science Fiction / Thriller / Adventure