Thursday, 8 July 2010


The first pure Predator movie in two decades opens in cinemas this week, and this time they're not coming to us - we're going to them. Predators takes the action to an unknown planet used by the eponymous hunters as a kind of massive game reserve. Their prey remains the same, however, as a group of Earth's finest and least trustworthy adversaries is selected to pit their skills against the maw-faced aliens.

Predators is the third film in the franchise proper, with the original released in 1987 and Predator 2 out three years later. Two Alien vs. Predator movies brought the dreadlocked hunters back to our screens in 2004 and 2007 and, like Aliens did for Alien, this latest movie brings them back once more with the weight of numbers behind them.

The Good Stuff

I'm not gonna wait any longer to say I personally loved this movie. It has all of the stuff you'd expect from a Predator film, as well as a few new elements to keep things fresh. There's also plenty of twists, without them being too drawn out - usually preceded by the question "What are you?".

A minimalistic score prevails for most of the movie, with the original motifs reproduced throughout - a nice touch for any fans of the original movies. It ramps up towards the end, but never becomes too dominant, it just helps to bring the pace up for the climactic scenes.

There are also a few elements that seem drawn from the 1980s original, with long, slow fades between some scenes, the ghost of the previous shot remaining visible for a good few seconds before the new image truly takes over. This helps the pacing nicely and, though I haven't checked yet, I'm fairly certain is something you'd see in the original Predator.


If you read this section, don't blame me - I am about to mention some things that happen in the film, so don't read on if that's going to annoy you.

The main spoiler is this - in the trailer, there's a fairly clear shot of Adrien Brody with 15 Predators targeting him for a shot. That's about five times as many Predators as there are in this entire movie. If you've paid attention to the trailer, you're likely to be left wondering where everybody else is.

At the big reveal - when the human group break clear of the forest and for the first time see a planetary system of gas giants hanging in a dusty red sky - the sky is, as I just said, dusty and red. In the forest, however, the light breaking through the canopy is clearly blue.

And there's just little justification for why doctor Edwin spontaneously changes his entire character to set up the ending - do we really buy that he's been waiting it out the whole time?

The Verdict (no spoilers here!)

Putting those concerns to one side - because you're allowed to take some liberties when making a movie - Predators is a nice instalment in a franchise that continues to find success. Five movies in, if you include the Alien vs. Predator films, there's still plenty of originality and even scope for more.

I was expecting to enjoy this film, but I found myself even more drawn in as the movie and the plot progressed. And there is a plot, as much as can be expected in an action movie. There's also plenty of big shots, both in terms of action and in the scenery, which echoes back to the forest setting of the original movie without becoming tired after an hour and a half.

I am a Predator fan - my all-time favourite movie quote has got to be "I don't know who he is... but I know where he is." - and after a 20-year wait, this did not disappoint me. It was good to see humans face off against the dreadlocked ones again without the knowledge that an Alien could jump in at any moment to save the day for no reason. This time around, as in the pure Predator movies before it, the humans were in it for survival. And in a film based all about the hunt, that somehow seems like the way it should be.

Final Score: 81%

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