Predators may not have been as successful of a franchise reboot as last year’s Star Trek in terms of quality, but as someone who wasn’t as enamored with the original as some, I thought there were some elements that did work and the casting was well done.
Fox | R – 107 min. – $39.99 | October 19, 2010
Directed by: Nimrod Antal
Writer(s): Jim Thomas & John Thomas (characters); Alex Litvak & Michael Finch (written by)
Cast: Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, Alice Braga, Walton Goggins, Oleg Taktarov, Danny Trejo, Laurence Fishburne
Theatrical Release Date: July 9, 2010
Features: Commentary, 3 Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, BD-Live, Digital Copy
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Portuguese (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.35
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, Portuguese, Cantonese, Mandarin
THE MOVIE – 3/5
There probably aren’t too many franchises that keep going at any cost and also branches out from movies to other mediums such as comic books, but the Predator series has been through many incarnations, twice in conjunction with the Alien franchise, with mixed results.
The original Predator is a fine action movie for its time but I didn’t find it particularly enthralling, though it had its moments while the sequel isn’t bad but was obviously not needed. Now 23 years after the Schwarzenegger star-making movie, power producer Robert Rodriguez resurrected the franchise with new life in Predators. It’s a fun title with a reminder of Aliens in ways; however the quality and entertainment value was not there, unfortunately.
Predators brings together a rag-tag group — including an ex-Special Forces turned mercenary (ADRIEN BRODY), an Israeli Defense Forces sniper (ALICE BRAGA), a criminal two days away from execution (WALTON GOGGINS), a Mexican drug cartel enforcer (DANNY TREJO), a Spetsnaz soldier (OLEG TAKTARVO), a Yakuza enforcer, an Revolutionary United Front officer and, in an odd inclusion, a seemingly simple doctor (TOPHER GRACE) — abducted from Earth to another planet. In the opening they fall from the skies with an un-deployed parachute plummeting to the ground and only becoming conscious half way down. On the ground they get their bearings and try to figure out what was going on, but have little recollection of what happened (think “Lost”) and throughout the first hour or so we find out some info on each person trying to find a common link.
The group tretch through the otherworldly jungle coming upon crates holding some sort of creatures while something/someone watching them from the treetops. During their search they also come upon another human, Army soldier, dead and realize they are not the first group to have been there, confirmed when later on, after taking a few casualties (what’s the point of having an ensemble cast otherwise?), are greeted (to put it kindly) by a man named Noland (LAURENCE FISHBURNE) who has survived out there with the Predator on the hunt. Oh, speaking of which, Adrien Brody’s character figures out what they are doing and what’s going on fairly early on and easily enough. But I digress, Noland was able to actually kill a few and hole away in one of their defunct factories. Of course being out there alone has loosened a few screws in the man’s mind…
The rest of the film has the remainder of the group trying to survive as the Predators are out for the kill while also trying to figure out a way to get off the planet and back to Earth.
All things considered, this isn’t a very long movie clocking in at around 100-minutes minus end credits but we actually don’t even get to see any of the Predators – at least one fighting – until the hour mark, although the remaining 35-minutes or so is filled with Predator vs. Human and Predator vs. Predator beat downs. This is perhaps something that will thrill hardcore fans but I found the entire process, as good as it looks, to be on the tedious side. I wasn’t quite bored throughout the movie but I also wasn’t entirely engaged with the plot for the time our ensemble walks around and surveys the land.
There are a few good aspects to the film, though. First, Adrien Brody actually comes out better than I had imagined playing the tough and loner mercenary with a Batman-like gruff voice. He has the presence to be the leader of that group. Also, the film was only made for an efficient $45 million so the make-up and costume design on the Predators (when we finally do see them) looks really good aside from a couple cheesy moments.
Another fine aspect is the lone female role played by Alice Braga who hasn’t had a massive film career but has appeared in a few high profile projects most notably I Am Legend with Will Smith. The reason I highlight her is because like in any ensemble action films, you don’t get a whole lot of dimensions with the characters aside from dialogue to fill in enough back story to explain various aspects (for Braga it’s her skills as a sniper), but I thought she had a strong presence to go head to head with her male counterparts (of course, she also had insights into the creatures knowing the story of what happened in 1987, though none of the knowledge is actually used…).
Overall, there are some elements to Predators that I enjoyed with some good make-up design, decent action sequences and some effective performances to go along with plenty of references to the original. While I believe die-hard fans will find some satisfaction with the film, I felt it just fell short of being memorable and just a generic action movie with some Predator moments thrown in. That said, it is heads and tails above the Alien vs. Predator films as well as Predator 2 so at least Robert Rodriguez and company have started the franchise anew, so I look forward to seeing what they do next.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.25/5
BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVES – 3.75/5
The Blu-ray comes housed in a standard HD Slim Case with a glossy and sleek slip cover.
Feature Commentary – Producer Robert Rodriguez and Director Nimrod Antal providing an informative but lively track covering the different aspects of filmmaking and storytelling. If you’ve ever listened to a commentary from Rodriguez you already know it’s not going to be dull as he (and Antal) use every minute to convey interesting production tid-bits.
Prequel Motion Comics (TRT 10:56; HD) – There are a series of motion comics featuring the voices of the cast that chronicle each of their characters origins. The first series under “Moments of Extraction” (8:45) shows when the Predators grabbed them and dropped them into the jungle. The parts include stories for Isabelle, Cuchillo, Hanzo and Mombasa as well as an intro and ending with Noland (Fishburne). The other part is called “Crucified” (2:11) that covers the Predators side as the Predators fights one of their own (it’s the one featured in the movie that the group finds strung up).
Everything except the Isabelle and Mombasa segments and “Crucified” are ** Blu-ray Exclusives **.
Evolution of the Species: Predators Reborn (40:12; HD) – This 6-part documentary (Bloodline, De-cloaking the Invisible: Alien Terrain, Intelligent Design: The Hunting Camp, Predators as Prey, Yuatja Transformed, Rite of Passage) details the making-of Predators from the origins of making a sequel to the 1987 original and trying to do something new in 2010 (although Rodriguez had done a treatment/script in the 1990s). This is like many other making-ofs where we get comments from various members of the cast (Adrien Brody, Alice Braga, etc) and crew (Antel, Rodriguez and others) plus behind-the-scenes footage including seeing the Predators in action on the set.
Everything except ‘De-cloaking the Invisible’ are ** Blu-ray Exclusives **.
The Chosen (4:52; SD) – This is featurette that goes through each of the main characters and who they are with some actors appearing on screen in character (be warned there is a spoiler in there about one of them). Not sure, but I think this probably was released as part of a promotional campaign.
Fox Movie Channel Presents: Making a Scene (7:06; SD) – This seems to be a staple of many high profile Fox movies where we go behind-the-scenes to check out on a scene was shot with comments from the cast and crew. I’ve never found these that interesting as they were made to air on FMC to promote the film. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Deleted and Extended Scenes (11:21; HD) – We get 9 deleted/extended scenes a few of which are nice (especially any involving Danny Trejo) but no doubt removed to keep the pace. It’s a little surprising that Fox hadn’t just added a few of these back in to make the “Unrated Version They Didn’t Want You to See!”. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Last we get the theatrical trailer (1:56; HD), Fox’s Live Lookup where you can see an actor’s or crew member’s bio via BD-Live and IMDb plus bits of trivia, and the BD-Live portal where you can access the Exclusive Set Visit (~2 min.). The last two features are ** Blu-ray Exclusives **.
We also get a second disc with the digital copy. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
VIDEO – 4.5/5
Predators is presented in 1080p High-Definition in its original 2.35 aspect ratio. The movie has a wide range of spectrum from the opening in daylight to the final fight which primarily takes place at night. During those brighter scenes, we get to see a good amount of detail especially on close-ups but some background objects as well. Colors look well distributed and not oversaturated. During the night scenes where often some films will expose pixilation or heavy noise, for this one, it looks crisp and clear. Now, I will say that black levels weren’t the best and were a little uneven as one scene was lighter and yet another would be black for no apparent reason (like some side lighting). In any case, this is a nice looking video presentation and while it might not be the best compared to other new releases, it’s certainly more than acceptable.
AUDIO – 4.25/5
The DTS-HD Master Audio track meanwhile featuring a roaring soundtrack that has everything from screams of terror, plenty of gunfire to the Predator language. Each channel does get some usage with the center and side speakers getting the most while the rear channels are reserved for off-screen rumblings.
OVERALL – 3.75/5
Predators may not have been as successful of a franchise reboot as last year’s Star Trek in terms of quality, but as someone who wasn’t as enamored with the original as some, I thought there were some elements that did work and the casting was well done. The Blu-ray has good audio and video presentations and the features are pretty good so this is a moderate recommendation.