I’ve been meaning to do a review of Predators for ages but for one reason or another, I could never get around to it. I found Predators very tricky to review. When I first saw it in the cinema, I didn’t hate it but I didn’t exactly like it all that much either. I found it average, I guess. Don’t get me wrong though, there’s a lot of stuff that 20th Century Fox have done right with this movie, especially compared to the recent disasters that were AvP and AvP Requiem.
The movie is about a group of killers being dropped into a game preserve on another planet by three Super Predators who proceed to hunt them. The general story is pretty good. The movie brings back the jungle setting which looks wonderful. The movie starts off with someone parachuting into a lush jungle. We’re quickly introduced to the main characters. The cast in the movie is pretty diverse. We have Adrien Brody who plays Royce. Brody got a lot of flak when he was cast in the role but he’s done the role justice. He’s no Arnie but that’s not who he’s trying to be. Other characters are Cuchillo (Danny Trejo), Nikolai (Oleg Taktarov), Isabelle (Alice Braga), Stans (Walton Goggins), Mombassa (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali), Edwin (Topher Grace), Hanzo (Louis Ozawa Changchien) and Noland (Laurence Fishburne). All the characters have their little backstory. The movie’s name is a double entendre. Not only meaning the Predator creatures but the main characters are predators too. Most of them are trained killers.
The movie was produced by Robert Rodriguez. He’s the one who overlooked the production of the film. I guess it’s easy to overlook the director as it’s Rodriguez who gets all the limelight. Nimrod Antal did a pretty good job here. He previously made movies called Kontroll, Vacancy and Armoured. He’s a competent director. He knows what he’s doing. Rodriguez has some pretty crazy ideas if his original script is anything to go by. Fortunately, writers Alex Litvak and Michael Finch came up with something decent here using Rodriguez’s treatment as a guide. I had my doubts about the new Super Predators and them hunting regular Predators but it works fairly well. Rodriguez made it clear from the outset that he was ignoring the AvP films and Predator 2 with this movie but Predators doesn’t contradict them.
The movie is R-Rated which is a good thing. We have stabbings and spine rips. All the Predator trademark attacks are there. You can sorta tell in a few scenes that CGI has been used to enhance someone’s death. Particularly when Noland met his demise. It’s weird how a movie that was made almost 25 years ago looks more realistic in terms of blood and gore than movies that are made today. I’m not complaining though. At least 20th Century Fox didn’t do the unthinkable and make it PG13. There’s lots of action and set pieces in the film. From the dogs to the hunting camp, it never lets up. Unfortunately, there’s a big pacing issue when Laurence Fishburne’s character Noland appears. He takes the characters back to a ship and there’s just nothing going on during this time. I understand that Noland tells the characters some key plot points but I think it’d have worked a lot better had they trimmed down the whole scene or cut it out completely. Sequels have a tendency to put as many homages in as humanly possible. While there are a few nods to the original Predator, it’s not flooded with them like in AvP. The main one the stands out for me is at the end when Brody is saying ‘Kill Me… I’m here etc.’ We could have done without little moments like that.
There are only three Super Predators in the movie (known as Berserker, Falconer and Tracker) as well as the Classic Predator. The Classic is a throwback to the original Predator design. With a title like Predators, you’d sorta expect a lot more Predators to appear. I guess this was due to the small $40M budget. Ian Whyte (AvP, AvP Requiem) unfortunately wasn’t asked to be the Predator again. Instead, Derek Mears (Friday the 13th) plays the Classic Predator, Brian Steele (Hellboy) plays the Berserker and Falconer Predators while Carey Jones plays the Tracker Predator. The Predators themselves don’t get an awful lot of screentime, unfortunately. The Falconer and Tracker Predators are killed when they make their first proper appearance. The Hanzo vs Falconer Predator battle was a bit out of place, I thought. Some fans like it and some don’t. It was clear that the Super Predators didn’t care about honour so it didn’t really make sense to have some poetic samurai battle. It was different from any other fight we’ve seen in the franchise so I’ll give them credit for that. In the final scenes, the Classic Predator battles with the Berserker Predator and it was great to watch, I admit. It’s probably the only time we’ll ever see a Predator vs Predator battle. The only downside is that the Classic Predator had to die. I was hoping he would win the battle. The final battle with the Berserker and Royce is good again. Royce is very reminiscent as Arnie in that scene covered in mud, even saying the same dialogue as him.
There are other creatures in the movie too. The Predators have alien dogs which I assume they found on another planet. The action scene at the beginning of the movie is very entertaining to watch. I remember getting goosebumps in the cinema when it shows all the dogs charging towards the main characters. The design of them is okay but the CGI is pretty bad, in my opinion. I know it’s hard to make fantasy creatures come alive but it was just too obvious that it was CGI. Another creature makes an appearance a bit later in the film. The so-called River Ghost. It actually resembles the early Predator design in the original Predator. It was fun to see another alien creature that was being hunted by the Predators. It makes you think really. I bet there were all sorts of alien creatures that the Predators had dropped onto the planet. Unfortunately, we never got to see any more of them. The last ‘creature’ is the Falcon. It’s not really a creature but a mechanical bird that the Falconer Predator uses to spot its prey. Every Predator movie introduced new weapons and equipment but there isn’t any new weapons in this one.
On to the creature designs. While Amalgamated Dynamics got their act together with AvP Requiem, I still never felt they created a decent Predator akin to the original so I was relieved when they didn’t get hired. For the special effects, Fox hired KNB FX Group to do the job. The two guys who actually own the company did in fact work on the original Predator before they formed the company. The Classic Predator is absolutely top notch. I couldn’t have asked for a better Predator design that matches the original. The three Super Predators all have very distinct looks. We’ve got the Falconer Predator which resembles a falcon. He controls a mechanical falcon creature. Then we have the Tracker Predator with the large tusks. He handles the dogs and finally we have the leader, the Berserker Predator. The masks are very different and unique. I wasn’t overly impressed with how the Berserker’s face looked at the end of the movie. I understand that they had to look different from regular Predators but I felt it was too different. I’m sort of on the fence about it.
The score in the movie is unfortunately the worst thing about it. Originally, they wanted Alan Silvestri who did the score for the first movie but he was unavailable. Instead we got John Debney to do it. I heard that Rodriguez went to Fox and asked them if they could use the tracks from the first movie. About 90% of the score is just recycled from the first movie with minimal changes. Even ‘Long Tall Sally’ makes an appearance in the end credits. As much as I hated AvP Requiem, at least Brian Tyler managed to create an original composition there. Here, they just blatantly stole it to save time and money. Some fans might like it but I wanted something a bit more original.
So where does Predators rank out of all the Predator films? It’s a tough one. It’s far better than AvP and AvP Requiem. I have a soft spot for Predator 2 because it was written by the Thomas brothers who wrote the original. I love the original Predator and no movie will ever come close to it. In a lot ways, Predators feels like a true sequel to the first one. The reason why Predators worked and the AvPs didn’t is because 20th Century Fox let Rodriguez get on with the job at hand unlike Paul Anderson and the Strause Brothers. That’s ultimately what the franchise needed. While I didn’t enjoy Predators as much as other people, I’d still love Rodriguez to come back and do another sequel.
The Picture & Sound
The movie is presented in widescreen (2.35:1) presentation, with audio in 5.1 DTS-HD surround. The picture quality is great which is to be expected. The jungle scenes look amazing clear. I must admit I did find the movie fairly dark in the cinema but it does seem a lot brighter after watching it on the Blu-Ray. The audio is good too. Dialogue is very clear throughout.
The Special Features
Commentary with Director Nimród Antal and Producer Robert Rodriguez
Unsurprisingly, Robert Rodriguez does most of the talking in the commentary. They reveal all sorts of little tidbits while shooting the movie. Rodriguez talks about his original Predator script that he wrote in the 90s and how this movie became green-lighted.
Robert Rodriguez presents Motion Comics – Exclusive Prequel Vignettes
There are two short motion comic featured here; Moments of Extraction shows what each character was doing when they were captured by the Predators. The characters from the movie actually narrate their segments too. The other motion comic entitled Crucified tells the story of how the Classic Predator was captured and tied up in the hunting camp.
Evolution of the Species: Predators Reborn
This is a the main bonus feature which lasts for 40 minutes. This is a detailed making of documentary that covers everything from how the movie came about to the creature design and production of the film. The feature includes lots of on-set footage and interviews with the cast and crew.
A brief profile of the main characters who parashooted onto the planet. It lasts for about 5 minutes.
Fox Movie Channel Presents: Making a Scene
This seven-minute feature covers the production of the scene in which the predator dogs appear.
Deleted and Extended Scenes
The set includes nine deleted scenes and lasts for 11 minutes. There’s nothing substantial in them, really. You can sorta see why they were cut, particularly, Cuchillo’s and Stans’ dialogue is a bit out of place. The most interesting deleted scene shows Royce confronting Edwin about him not fitting in with the rest of the characters. You can read this article for more info.
This is just the official theatrical trailer for the movie.
The set also comes with a digital copy disc so you can watch the movie on portable devices or on a DVD player.
Like I said, I’m on the fence with this movie. I thought it was okay… it just could have been so much better than it was. I do hope Rodriguez does another Predator movie but even if we never get to see another, this is a good movie to end the Predator franchise on. I’d probably give it 3/5. The Blu-Ray set is very good. The picture and sound is top notch. I kinda wish there was a lot more special features. I think even the Predator 2 set has more extras than this one.