Predators: A Flickcharter’s Movie Review
Some of the world’s deadliest people – soldiers, mercenaries, killers, rapists – find themselves dropped into the middle of a hostile jungle. Soon, they realize they are being hunted… and that they are no longer on our world. So begins Predators; a sequel to the original, singular-titled, Arnold Schwarzenegger-starring sci-fi action hit from 1987. And as it turns out, it’s become the only sequel to that movie that’s truly worth the effort.
Starring: Adrien Brody (The Pianist; King Kong), Topher Grace (Spider-Man 3; TV’s “That 70’s Show”), Alice Braga (City of God; I Am Legend), Walton Goggins (TV’s “The Shield”), Oleg Taktarov (Righteous Kill; Bad Boys II), Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix; TV’s “CSI”) and Danny Trejo (Planet Terror; Heat)
So, how does Predators measure up? I’ll use the Flickchart ranking method to see how…
Predators vs. a Similar Movie
Obviously, with any sequel, the first comparison to make is with the original film. So, how does Predators stack up against the original Predator (1987)? The answer: Surprisingly well. After the lackluster Predator 2 (1990), the disappointing AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004) and the godawful AVPR: Aliens vs. Predator – Requiem (2007), we haven’t had a truly good Predator movie in 23 years. All that has changed. Producer Robert Rodriguez and director Antal have presented a movie that finally re-captures the feel of the original, and the franchise is the better for it.
The first movie saw muscle-bound Schwarzenegger leading a muscle-bound group of commandos on a top-secret jungle mission, which is scrapped when an alien hunter begins stalking them. In the new Predators, the beefcake heroes of the original film are replaced by leaner–yet still dangerous–people, led by Adrien Brody, who, back in 2002, became the youngest-ever Best Actor Oscar winner for Roman Polanski’s The Pianist. A more unlikely replacement for Arnie you could not imagine, but Brody pulls it off. Not only did the once-scrawny-looking actor seriously beef himself up for the role, it helps that he can act himself out of a paper bag.
In fact, the entire cast is quite solid, as they portray a varied group of the planet Earth’s most deadly people who find themselves dropped (literally; the opening scene is quite cool) into an alien jungle and hunted. Though the standouts for me were actually Walton Goggins, as a serial killer who was on death row before being plucked up by the Predators, and the MOST unlikely member of the cast, Topher Grace, if only because these two were the best sources of the films meager, but effective, comic relief. Grace especially was a surprise, particularly after the way he helped slaughter the character of Venom in Spider-Man 3. My only beef about casting is that the one actor I was most looking forward to seeing in a Predator movie was, sadly, underused. (I’ll let you figure out who that was.)
Ultimately, Predators winds up in “Worthy Sequel” territory. It, of course, is not as good as the original…but that is primarily because it does wind up feeling like it rips the original off. Don’t get me wrong; I almost feel that, after all this time and three bad movies starring Predators, that’s exactly what this film needed to do. It succeeds in replicating the feel of Predator, and only winds up coming in behind because of its lack of true originality. There are still plenty of differences to make it succeed on its own, though.
Predators vs. another movie starring Adrien Brody
I really like King Kong, director Peter Jackson’s epic follow-up to his masterful Lord of the Rings trilogy. Adrien Brody’s performance in it is solid, but less remarkable, though. In Predators, he really packs on the muscle, and you believe that he is an extremely dangerous individual. In Kong, he’s a little more lost in the spectacle.
What a spectacle it is, though. Jackson balances epic battles between a giant ape and a couple of T-rexes against seriously poignant drama with said ape and Naomi Watts. I truly enjoy every minute of King Kong, but…
I can admit it, the big flaw in Kong is its running time. The movie is too long. Some of the crazy creatures should have been cut out to whittle the time down, especially during the dinosaur stampede scene on Skull Island. Antal’s Predators is much efficient in its storytelling, clocking in at under two hours, or, just over half the running time of Kong.
My loyalty to Jackson in the aftermath of Rings is a big factor here; not to mention the fact that Kong is a bit more of my kind of movie. I love the new Predators, as well as the original, but I’ll choose Kong over the new one, because I enjoy epic adventures and touching drama more than splattering alien gore. Still, I feel there is really no wrong answer to this question.
Predators vs. another movie by Nimród Antal
Director Antal really caught my attention with Vacancy. I am not a big horror movie fan, but when a film is more psychologically terrifying than gore-splattering gross, I can really get hooked by it, and Vacancy had me on the edge of my seat.
Until the ending felt like a big cop-out.
It’s difficult to discuss disappointment in a film’s ending without giving away spoilers, but here goes. I was extremely impressed by a twist near the end of Vacancy, but all of a sudden, a pat Hollywood ending came out of nowhere and completely undid the twist. Suddenly, for me, the movie fell apart, and I merely liked it, as opposed to loving it.
Predators, perhaps, has a very Hollywood ending, too, but it fits with the type of movie Antal was creating, and is in line with the Predator series as a whole. It is, I suppose, more predictable than Vacancy, but the consistency in Predators’ narrative left me more impressed with the film as a whole. An easy win for Predators.
Where is Predators on My Flickchart?
After my initial round of ranking, Predators has landed at #188 on my personal Flickchart, just behind Live Free or Die Hard (2007) and just ahead of S.W.A.T. (2003), both solid cop action flicks. Let me just say right now that S.W.A.T. is too high on my list. An affection for Sam Jackson has no doubt caused it to rise too high on my list. I like the movie, but it’s not that good.
Live Free or Die Hard, meanwhile, I really enjoyed. And in terms of resurrecting a previously dead franchise, I think it was somewhat more successful than Predators. Predators, however, is a little more successful in capturing the true spirit of the first movie in its franchise. Live Free… wins with me personally for two reasons: I like Bruce Willis, and it doesn’t feature as much splatter and gore as Predators. Plus, Predators–while possessed of not-insignificant cosmetic changes–is much more of a re-hash of the first movie than Live Free… is of Die Hard (1988).
Future Movement on My Flickchart?
Unfortunately, I can really only guess that there’s nowhere to go but down from here for Predators. I’m comfortable with it as a Top 200 movie, but it doesn’t really deserve to be higher than that. (Predator, meanwhile, is firmly entrenched in my Top 50). I can certainly see other movies I’m going to see in the future topping it.
But the bottom line is, I’m extremely grateful to this movie. It’s finally brought the Predator franchise back to its roots. And I hope that Rodriguez and Antal will make another sequel that might switch things up a little more. If you love the first Predator, you should check Predators out. If you don’t, you should avoid this sequel.
But if you love Predator and dislike the three movies that came in between, you should definitely check out Predators.
Current Rank on My Flickchart: 188/1208.
(Incidentally, a review like this probably doesn’t work unless you have an idea of how the author uses Flickchart. I am an admitted fanboy. My Top 20 is dominated by the likes of Frodo Baggins, Indiana Jones, Ellen Ripley, Marty McFly and Christopher Nolan. A movie’s rewatchability is a major criteria for me, and I rank on Flickchart using one simple principle: “Which movie would I rather watch RIGHT NOW?” This means that some movies I might consider “good” movies rank low on my list, because I never want to watch them again. It’s that simple.)
This post is part of our User Showcase series. You can find Nigel as johnmason on Flickchart. If you’re interested to submit your own story or article describing your thoughts about movies and Flickchart, read our original post for how to become a guest writer here on the Flickchart Blog.