In Praise of Predators

by Dave on July 22, 2010

in Movies

predators-adrian-brody Reactions to this movie have definitely been mixed. I’ve read as many glowing reviews as I have negative. Personally I was very happy with Predators and especially enjoyed the many subtle ways in which it paid homage to the 1987 original. Truth be told, sometimes the nods were about as subtle as “Ol’ Painless” – but I’ll try to cover as many of them as I noticed rather than write yet another opinion piece.

Before I get into the list, which I’m having real trouble naming (“Predator vs. Predators”? “Nods to Predator within Predators”? “I am a Sad Bastard who Needs More Sunlight”? , I feel I should mention how and why this movie got made – and who was the driving force behind it.

Robert Rodriguez, of El Mariachi and Grindhouse fame, is a huge fan of the first instalment and rumor has it was working on his own script for a sequel as early as 1992. He never lost his zeal for the franchise and although he didn’t direct Predators, he produced it and I’ve read that many, many elements of his original idea for the sequel remain intact.

predators-sights“Guys, you seem to have me at a loss here. Anyone seen The Pianist?

Nods to Predator within Predators

  • The jungle setting: Obviously. It’s an alien jungle with some pretty freaky fauna but thick and dense all the same. You’ll notice many shots (light tricking down in streams, people scuttling off leaf-covered dirt hills, etc.) pulled directly from the first movie.
  • The firepower: It ain’t “Ol’ Painless”, and Nikolai ain’t Blaine, but the Russian mercenary has his very own strap-on minigun. “I ain’t got time to bleed.” “Do you have time to sample some of my nana’s borscht?” Also, the tiny twin machine guns carried by Danny Trejo’s character, Chuchillo, are almost identical to the one Dillon was rocking when his arm was sliced off in Predator. I saw Happy Gilmore again recently – what is it with Carl Weathers and losing limbs to creatures with scales?
  • The stand-offish, yawnsville, Latina pseudo-love interest: I’ll always think of her as “the chick from City of God”, but Alice Braga is a passable replacement for Anna – and is a much better shot. Incidentally, her character’s name in I am Legend was… Anna. Fate, perhaps.
  • The waterfall: In the original, Arnold goes over a massive, beautiful waterfall while trying to outrun the monster. In Predators, everyone goes flying off of one. Even though it’s now done with CGI as opposed to an actual stuntman – the camera follows them over and it looks really cool.
  • The mud: Just like Dutch did, Royce (Adrien Brody) covers himself in mud to foil the Predator’s heat-seeking visor. This isn’t an accident. Instead it’s the most direct tip-of-the hat to the first film you’ll see – but divulging more and that point would definitely cross over into spoiler territory.
  • The booby traps: The lethal creations made out of wood, vines, massive stumps and sharpened sticks are a lot more elaborate this time. They’re almost all cobbled together by the self-described “one who got away”, Noland, played to absolute batshit crazy perfection by Lawrence Fishburne. The last time Larry was in a jungle this thick he was helping guide Martin Sheen down a Vietnamese river to kill Marlon Brando.
  • The showdown with a sword: In Predator, Billy strips down, pulls out a giant machete and dares the alien to throw down Indian-style to help the others escape. In Predators the blade of choice is a Samurai katana wielded by Yakuza enforcer Hanzo – to a slightly better result then poor William.
  • Intergalactic taunting: “I’m here! Kill me I’m here!” sounds a little better with an Austrian accent, but Brody too belittles the beast to lure it into a pungee trap, or something.
  • Celebrity Impressions: The first Predator loved to impersonate Sonny Langston’s booming laugh and him saying “over here”. Our new friends do exactly the same thing but seem to have now mastered the dulcet tones of Trejo. See the video below for the great scene I’m referencing before YouTube makes someone take it down. Fuck a trailer.

It’s been a week now since I saw the movie and I also have to get back to my real job. What have I forgotten about? What have I missed? Please let me know in the comments and I’ll gladly update the list.

All of these little tributes to the source material may leave you wondering, homage is toomage? (I was conflicted as to whether or not I should make that joke, but I finally decided to pull the minigun trigger. No regrets). I think most fans, however, will relish them as Rodriguez obviously does.

predators-nikolaiSuddenly, a foxhole in Chechnya seemed a lot more appealing

You may ask yourself, where does 1990’s Predator 2 fit in to all of this? I didn’t hate it, but I’m not sure it will ever fit comfortable into the timeline. It featured 2 more big action stars of the era – Danny Glover and Gary Busey – and was a big budget, big city shoot-em-up where our alien friends descended on an urban environment (just another jungle, wink) to vivisect as many Rastafarian drug lords as they could get their three-pronged fist knife thingys through. It could have very well been called “Lethal Point Predator Break Weapon” and I’ll always remember it for being sampled heavily on Ice Cube’s album from a year or so later entitled, you guessed it, “The Predator”.

“Who is that?”
”Last person in the world you wanna fuck with.”

predators-nikolai-ol-painless I wonder how many copies of that record Adam Baldwin bought back in the day? He probably had a trunk full of CDs to give away to his buddies at parties. “I was sampled by Ice Cube, dudes!” Actually, upon closer IMDB inspection I now realize he was 30 when Predator 2 was made, where as I was 18. I’m obviously living out my own little sampled-by-Cube fantasy through him. So, what’s my excuse now that I’m 36 and writing this? Let’s wrap this up…

If you’re looking for a standard review you can see about a hundred of them over at Rotten Tomatoes which gives it an average rating of 63%. That doesn’t sound too impressive, but if you’re familiar with RT you’ll know that’s a pretty good showing. If you dug Dutch and the boys in the original as much as I did, and were as discouraged by the silly Alien vs. Predators afterbirth, you can’t go wrong here. So go on. Run. Get to the chopper. If only to take you to the theater.

{ 2 trackbacks }

Tweets that mention In Praise of Predators --
July 22, 2010 at 5:35 pm
Is SPECTRE a Masterpiece?
October 24, 2015 at 10:32 pm

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Dave Pye July 23, 2010 at 3:09 pm

One thing I’m gonna add, which will round this list up to 10, is the “What the fuck are you?” line which Dutch says to the Predator at the end of the first movie. There’s definitely a little service paid to that scene in the above clip when Royce speaks to Noland before he takes his helmet off.

G-Dub July 23, 2010 at 3:34 pm

As I wasn’t a huge fan of the first two, I doubt I’ll see it. Now if they had brought back Carl ‘Action Jackson’ Weathers, that would be a different story.

Dave Pye July 23, 2010 at 3:35 pm

Dillon is indeed missed. I mention him in one of the similarity points.

thagooch July 23, 2010 at 3:45 pm

I though Sammy L suck moose balls! It was no snakes on a MF Plane if you know what I mean!

Doug July 23, 2010 at 4:21 pm

I’m a purist when it comes to “classic action movies” and remakes, no matter how good, are never close to the original masterpiece. What’s the real reason to re-make a movie as good as Predator? Flattery? Nobody could come up with their own original idea? Danny Trejo is a good add, but Topher F-ing Grace from “That 70’s Show” and Adrien Brody from whatever forgettable movies he was in? Laurence Fishburne needed a hit? An actor of Fishburne’s Calibur saying yes baffles me. For me, this is as good of an idea as “Predator 2” with Danny Glover. I hope it tanks and sends a clear message – leave this movie alone.

jhenry July 23, 2010 at 4:38 pm

who plays jesse the body and when is the line it ain’t no man “major”?

Monstah July 25, 2010 at 5:10 pm

Bloody Hell you are really pulling out the Lawrence Fishburne credits. Surprisingly… SURPRISINGLY – I never realised he was Clean in Apocolypse Now and couldn’t wait to bust your chops. Thankfully IMDB corrected me. All in all – Predators was entertaining.

Leave a Comment