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Welcome Back to the Jungle
on July 9, 2010
"Predators" is back to basics return for the "Predator" franchise, they have juggled the elements that made the first film successful but couldn't seem to get right for the sequel or the "Alien vs. Predator" movies. "Predators" starts with the original premise of the first movie. Eight people of different ethnicities (if not occupations) are thrown into a living green hell of a jungle except they all don't know how they got there or where they are. The only thing they're sure of is that they were involved in some war, they saw a light and the next thing they remember is waking up as they fell into the jungle.
As the eight get to know each and their surroundings, "Predators" relies on the camaraderie of the individuals and the stress of the situation for each character to reveal themselves to each other and the audience, and they discover every one may not be what they seem. There's also a nice bit of gallows humor to lighten the moments and was one of the things that gave the original "Predator" some of it's charm.
The predators have some new toys including the spiky dogs, and we learn there are two different kinds of predators, the standard one we're used to seeing is the smaller of the species and are hunted by the larger super-predator when no other game is available.
One bit of casting I was worried about was Topher Grace, the geeky Eric Forman of "That 70's Show," he seemed miscast or ill fitted for Eddie Brock in "Spiderman 3," and here he's the one element that doesn't fit, but he isn't supposed to, and he looks right for the part and delivers a role that at first looks like a straightforward but has some twists. Laurence Fishburne does a near-cameo as Noland, a soldier marooned on the planet and who may be from the Vietnam era, I think he hums a bit of Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" used to such great effect in Apocalypse Now.
I at first thought "Predators" was directed by Robert Rodriquez and that was one of the reasons I was looking forward to seeing the movie. I was a little disappointed that Rodriquez only produces, but this movie does incorporate some of the feel of a movie directed by Rodriquez but that may be because "Predators" is based on a screenplay Rodriguez wrote sixteen years ago . Directing is Nimrod Antal and he moves the movie tautly along never veering off course or too far off course, and he does add some visual artistry that hasn't been seen in any of the previous movies but gives us a sense of the alieness of the world the characters find themselves trapped on.
"Predators" is conscious of the events of the first "Predator" movie and the climatic battle is a tweaked version that is an homage to Arnold's battling of the predator while building on some of the inferred weaknesses of the predators. "Predators" is a good telling of a "Predator" story, using bits of the original and adding its own devices to the "Predator" mythology.