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Hunting season is open and the prey is good!!! Nimrod Antal’s “Predators” produced by Robert Rodriguez and based partly off a script he wrote years ago is out on Blu-Ray and DVD and it’s the sequel to the original classic that we’ve been waiting for. Forget the lackluster (but still fun) “Predator 2,” or the “Alien Vs. Predator” films (first one would’ve been fine with an R-rating, but I digress), because this film feels more like a true sequel than any of those. Taking a page from James Cameron’s book of making sequels to hit franchises, Antal gives us a film that is basically “Aliens” to the original “Alien”. This film is everything we loved about the first but turned on its ear. There’s still a Predator, there’s still a jungle, but beyond that it’s a whole different animal. To quote my friend when the protagonists first see the alien skyline of the planet, we definitely ain’t in Kansas anymore.
For those of you who were hiding under a rock when it hit theatres, I’ll give a quick rundown. Six elite killers and a doctor are dropped on an alien planet where they have become prey for the “Predators.” Not much else needs to be said really. Antal and Rodriguez’s vision for the franchise is a welcome one. Taking not only the characters, but the audience out of their comfort zones, “Predators” takes place on a planet set up as a game preserve, and turns some of Earth’s greatest killers, predators themselves, into the hunted. Unlike the first film where there is a group of soldiers who have worked together before and are a unit, this group are all individuals, used to working and preferring to work alone.
Mercenary Royce, played very well by Adrien Brody, and sniper Isabelle, played exceptionally by the talented and beautiful Alice Braga take the lead of this ragtag group. Former MMA star Oleg Tarkatarov plays a Spetsnaz soldier with a big gun, and Rodriguez mainstay Danny Trejo plays Mexican cartel enforcer Cuchillo (yup another blade themed named for “Machete”). Rounding out the group are Walton Goggins as a death row inmate, Mahershalalhashbaz Ali as a Revolutionary United Front soldier, Louis Ozawa Changchien as a Yakuza hitman, and finally Topher Grace as the odd man out. The antagonism is high at first but that all gets washed away when “Bigger Problems” arise. The casting of this film really helped elevate the characters just above being cannon fodder. Much like the first film their personalities do the talking for them, and though you know for the most part these are some very bad people, you still start to like them, or some of them at least.
Speaking of casting, talk about your quick cameos. Laurence Fishburne has one that’s almost the equivalent to Bill Murray’s in “Zombieland.” One minute you’re like “Awesome! It’s Morpheus…on crack.” The next you’re like “Wait he gone already?” Criminally under used in this film. As a matter of fact I’d actually have to say that’s my only issue with this film, they under used talent. Fishburne isn’t the only one, but that’s all I’m saying. Other than that I loved “Predators.” Is it predictable? Of course! But it’s still a whole lot of fun. And it’s well done to boot.
Fans of the original will just go nuts. I mean there are lines from it throughout the film, and they aren’t said with a wink and a nod either. They actually fit. They even used imagery to evoke scenes from the first, or a character that does something similar. It was great to watch something new, but get the same old feelings. It’s suitably gory, testosterone filled fun for fans of the franchise and newbies alike. I’d really love to see where’ they’ll go with a sequel because they have set up something really cool with this which could easily lead into great territory. I mean hell they helped reboot the Predator franchise but they could easily make the third one the “AvP” movie we’ve been wanting since the comics.
I watched this on Blu-Ray and I must say the special features, though not numerous were really good. There’s a multi-part making of feature that is really in-depth. It talks about everything from re-inventing the franchise and getting back to basics, to casting and location. There are also motion comics narrated by the actors about their characters, “The Chosen” featurrette spotlighting the characters, deleted and extended scenes, and a commentary from Antal and Rodriguez. Obviously on Blu-Ray the picture and sound were superb. The music and sound really set the tone for the film. Whether it’s the original theme playing, or the eerie growling the Predators make, or the sound of gunfire, it’s all crystal clear. So go out and hunt this down. It makes a great trophy for your movie collection…RUN! GET TO ZE CHOPPA!!!!