Movies

Predators: Big Hunt

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This stuff will make you a god damned sexual Tyrannosaurus, just like me.

If you've ever wondered what happens when the hunter becomes the hunted, Predators has an answer: Not that much.

With Aliens, James Cameron made a convincing case that the best way to make a monster movie sequel was to add an "s." More than 20 years after the original Predator, the series, which has long served as a sort of lumbering, beefcake B-side to the sleek, top-tier terror of the Alien films, finally gets in on the action.

In this case, though, more turns out to be less. The first film's tense, muscular build toward an ultimate badass showdown is supplanted by an aimless litany of clumsy action-movie cliches. As in previous iterations of the series, the movie features beefy alien hunters with dreadful haircuts as they track down a band of surly human badasses. The hunted, in this case, each take the form of a familiar action-movie type—a sweaty Russian heavy, a Yakuza assassin, a machine-gun-packing drug enforcer, a sharpshooting IDF hottie, a prison-yard psycho armed with a shiv, and, uh, Adrien Brody. The buffed-up Brody spent more time developing his abs than his character—we don't even learn his name until the final reel—but he speaks with a gravelly authority, and makes it clear he knows why he's there. "Whatever it is, where ever they're from, we're gonna kill 'em all," he says, in what amounts to the movie's mission statement.

 I ain't got time to bleed. Or is it "read"?

The problem is that, like Brody's moody protagonist, the filmmakers don't seem all that interested in exploring what anything is or where anything is from. Predators hunt. Humans get hunted. What else is there to know? Which is to say that all those burning questions you had about Predator mythology—like how an alien society could develop an economy that consists entirely of sport-hunting and dreadlock salons—go unanswered.  Instead, there's a lot of macho posturing, and a lot of whispered musing over the idea that the humans, see, are all predators themselves, which is really very deep if you think about it.  

Like previous installments, Predators functions as a meathead-friendly sci-fi remake of The Most Dangerous Game. The best takes on that story have always focused on the electric thrill of hunting down a clever, thinking being. Predators doesn't seem to think the humans in its audience meet that standard, which may explain why its hunt is so boring.

NEXT: Some People Say There's Obama to Blame, But You Know, It's George Bush's Fault...

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  1. “Stick around.”

    Probably my favorite one liner ever.

    1. I assume you’ve never seen “They Live”? That has the best one-liner ever.

      1. Oops, delay my last. I forgot about Snakes on a Plane.

        1. They Live‘s is still better. And it was ad-libbed.

  2. I automatically consider this a terrible movie because someone from I Am Legend is in it.

    1. Is that fucking Shane I see in the background? I don’t know if I can take Walton Goggins as anyone other than Shane. Especially after what he did at the end of The Shield; that was some killer shit.

      1. Yup. He was good in Justified, so maybe he’s carving himself out a career path as a stock psycho.

        1. I’m not sure what other role you can play with that giant forehead.

          1. He could have a fine career as the far wall of a jai alai court.

      2. The Shield got so fucking boring after a while. He’s way better in Justified anyway.

  3. So, is the babe related to Sonia Braga?

    And whose bright idea was it to cast Adrien Brody as an action hero?

    1. Niece.

    2. The Pianist wasn’t an action film?

    3. Hahaha, he must have the same agent as Nic Cage. Hahahaha, now there’s a real career move. Hahahaha.

  4. I always figured that the Predators were an advanced post-scarcity society where all the actual work was automated. They spend their time hunting the most dangerous game around the universe for fun and social status.

    Either that or the ones we see are just the idle rich and the actual Predator civilization is pretty normal offscreen somewhere. What we see are just rich guys on safari or aristocrats on their estates.

    1. Please write the next Predator movie.

  5. The best takes on that story have always focused on the electric thrill of hunting down a clever, thinking being.

    Gilligan?

    1. Ah, my dream hunt. But the Skipper would have to be thrown in as a bonus.

      1. You fool. Gilligan never loses!

        1. He would infuriate me to death, just like he did the Skipper. Maybe hunting the Professor would be more of a challenge. And there’s always “hunting” Ginger and Mary Ann.

          I wonder why Howell never hunted Gilligan for sport himself.

          1. Like most of us in the club house, he spends that time wasting it on chasing lesbians.

          2. If you hunt the Professor, the last thing you will ever see in this life is are 2 razor-sharp halves of a coconut shell racing down from opposite sides to shear off your very surpised head.

            The Skipper is as tough and hard to kill as a grizzley, Mary Anne’s sweeteness is juxtapposed with her lightning fast reflexes (the last man watched his forcibly extracted heart beat it’s last beats before his dying eyes), and Ginger is the ultimate femme fatale.

            Thurston’s many hidden bladed weapons will leave you pleading for your life. Your greatest mistake will be underestimating Lovey. They’ll find you with Manuel the gardner’s flat spade shovel sticking out of your chest.

            Many of hunted the Castaways. None have lived to tell.

            1. You’ve clearly thought about this a lot. Which makes you even more of a twisted goon than I thought.

              1. Yeah, only about 40 years or so, but I’ll still take the compliment.

                If Gilligan’s Island isn’t part of your pop culture DNA by now, you’re doing it wrong.

            2. It’s been too long since I last saw the episode, so I don’t remember why Jonathan Kincaid chose Gilligan over the others. But all your suppositions that the others are the more most dangerous game are probably correct, and they may in fact appear in the director’s cut.

      2. The Skipper would definitely violate your corpse.

  6. fully aware going in how bad this movie will be.

    Yes, I’m going to see it anyway. Shamefacedly i admit that I watched *both* AvP movies.

    1. There’s another AVP?

      (heads to Nwtflix)

  7. With Aliens, James Cameron made a convincing case

    for murdering James Cameron. In the dick.

    It’s the most antecedent-defiling turdstorm of a sequel ever made. American Psycho 2 is like Godfather II in comparison.

    NERD FURY!

    1. Whoa. Aliens was not a Major League 2 level turdstorm.

    2. Are you retarded? Aliens is excellent, it’s just a completely different style of movie by a completely different style of director. James Cameron is not Ridley Scott. And Alien 3 is great in its own right, but completely different; it’s Fincher’s style. They did fuck up with Alien 4 (or whatever it’s called), and amazingly it was even written by Joss Whedon.

      1. Yeah, Alien Resurrection was an unmitigated turd.

        Also, Suderman doesn’t get how this works. The sci-fi movie discussions are supposed to be in a comment thread about something totally unrelated.

    3. I will make my own controversial statement:

      Aliens is the most faithful adaptation of Starship Troopers to reach the big screen.

      1. Well, it’s certainly closer than any of the movies that bear the name. But that ain’t saying much. Verhoeven was the completely wrong choice for the first one.

        About the only other name sci-fi director that would have done an equally bad job would be Cronenborg. The bugs would be fleshy protruberances and the entire war would be in the protagonist’s head.

        1. Interestingly enough, Cronenberg was first attached to Total Recall before Verhoeven. As much as I enjoy Verhoeven’s version, a Cronenberg version would have been fascinating. Long live the new flesh indeed.

        2. Starship Troopers was a fucking awesome movie you nimrod. Which is quite an achievement considering he had to start from Heinlein’s awful writing.

          1. I think that film technology may be far enough along now to allow a Starship Troopers movie to be made that uses the actual Mobile Infantry gear, tactics and doctrine.

            I want Mobile Infantry in the suits, jumping miles at a time, shooting tactical nukes behind them, wasting entire continents.

            1. Exactly. I want Marauder suits and flamers and the MI burning down Skinny cities.

              I don’t want Doogie Howser playing psychologist to an infected alien snatch. “It’s afraid.” Well, it should be because it’s gonna die. Get out the way, Doogie.

              1. You guys should read the Amazon.com reviews of the “Starship Troopers” the movie, and Starship Troopers the novel. The reviews mirror each other like parallel universes. People who loved the movie hated the book and vice versa. But let’s face it, the “advanced” race of humans sent down unprotected meatbags en masse to get annihilated in the movie. In the book, they are at least enhanced with mech suits. If anything, I think humans would just use robots of some sort to fight alien menaces assuming the costs aren’t prohibitive.

                1. Let me take this opportunity to once again plug Armor by John Steakly. ST’s action scenes that he left out and a little more realistic about how the military works than Heinlein’s military utopia.

                  1. I have that somewhere on the shelf, half-finished. It got boxed when we moved and, like the rest of the library, has yet to be unboxed.

                  2. It was pretty good… a little too Vietnam though.

            2. I think that film technology may be far enough along now to allow a Starship Troopers movie to be made…

              Plus, Casper Van Dien is still young and popular enough to star. Although I really don’t know how they could top the original epic film. It cut out all that extra, unnecessary nonsense from the book.

    4. What Epi said, except for the part about Alien 3. Not as horrible as Alien 4 (which I saw on Thanksgiving with family when it came out), but I’ll pass on The Sigourney Show as a vehicle for the Alien franchise. It was the ensemble cast that gave it the edge.

      1. Fincher FAIL.

        Aliens 3 was an excellent movie, IMO, and really tried to capture Scott’s execution of the first movie.

        The ensemble case was great, as was knocking off Newt and Hicks, and to a lesser degree, Bishop.

        What suffered, was the movie’s numerous rewrites and gives it a slightly disjointed execution, and it shows in Ripley more than any other (think of the rallying scene with the convicts after she discovers the dog xenomorph will not kill her).

        I still call those with whom I work that exhibit poor work or express themselves poorly “85”; not surprisingly, almost all of them fail to get the reference.

        Charles S. Dutton made Aliens 3, IMO, as his was easily the most compelling character.

        “It’s time to re-educate the brothas…”

        1. Killing Newt and Hicks off-screen was laaaaaaaame.

    5. Seconded…Aliens is horrible. Anyone who disagrees…I am talking to Episiarch here…loses any claim to geek movie street cred. Indeed claiming it is anything but a schei?esturm is evidence of significantly reduced mental capacity.

      1. Still bitter about Climategate, Neu?

        1. Ouch. Another flaccid insult from epi…how will I face the day?

          1. Flaccid best describes your defenses of statism.

            1. Given that I don’t defend statism, I believe you are accurate.

              1. But back on topic…what kind of defense of Aliens is it to say it is a different kind of movie? Yes, yes it is a different kind of movie…and not very good. Without the link to the better original film, they might have been able to turn the script into a run-of-the-mill sci-fi action film. But by linking it directly to Alien they just exposed themselves as hacks who wanted to cash in on someone else’s superior work. It is easily the worst of the Alien-connected films with the possible exception of the second AVP. At least the others had some understanding of what it was about Alien that made it a great movie…even if they were not able to recreate the formula, they respected it.

                1. And when I think about it…Aliens and the second AVP are bad for exactly the same reasons. Very similar films.

                  1. You’re on crack.

                    Aliens has awesome action movie dialogue, excellent special effects, real chills and suspense, a great passive-aggressive villain, a great through-line for the protagonist – it’s an ocean of win.

                    Right, it’s not a shot-for-shot remake of the first film, with jump scares and fake scares where it turns out it’s the cat and stuff like that. Fine. The first movie did that as well as it could be done, so it was smart to go a different way.

                    1. I prefer Aliens primarily because it wasn’t trying to be a horror film through and through, which its predecessor had already accomplished. Why do we need another horror movie about some mysterious Alien threat that is not so mysterious anymore? This is the reason why horror movie sequels become boring and pointless: eventually survivors of previous films would realistically bring enough bombs and guns to the show that Chucky/Jason/Aliens/
                      Carnosaurous can’t do much to stop that shit.

                      Upon some cursory analysis, the Aliens in Aliens are still pants-wettingly horrifying, but they are mortal, and men with enough guns, guts, and stupidity can put those fuckers in the ground. In the end, the Aliens are probably sentient threats the Human Race and they should be battled as such. This is exemplified in the ending where one woman, augmented with a power loader, boots their fucking queen out into space. Go Earth. I hope Aliens 5 just shows humans dropping viruses and nukes onto infested planets from space while eating popcorn from the bleechers. I also hope they don’t make that movie and they somehow retroactively(Time Machine?) prevent AvP from ever hitting the cutting room floor.

                    2. Well, of course, this is all subjective opinion, but as a fan of sci-fi action films I found it (upon first viewing, in the theatre) to be a pretty lame example of the genre. The tie-in to the better movie just highlights its weaknesses.

                      The first movie did that as well as it could be done, so it was smart to go a different way.

                      I don’t have a problem with taking the movie in a different direction and actually agree with your point here (and the one below). My criticism relates to the quality of what they did, not that they took it in another direction.

                      A sequel that takes things in a new direction, however, should improve upon or add depth or richness to the original. Aliens did the opposite.

                      The other films in the series meet this criterion better, imo.

                    3. “improve upon” meaning, of course, that the sum of BOTH movies improves the overall experience rather than diminishes it.

      2. Aliens is a good movie of a completely different genre than Alien. They should not be judge together nor even watched in sequence, but they was nothing wrong with the sequel as a guns-n-explosions actioner.

        ‘Course the original was a masterpiece of gut twisting suspense.

    1. Didn’t he used to go by “Dave Weigel” when he was @Reason? Now he goes by “David Weigel”? Ooh la la, how pretentious. Unless I just imagined that he used to go by “Dave”.

  8. There should be price tiering at movie theaters. I’ll pay 10 bucks for Gladiator but only 5 bucks for Predators.

    1. Or… WE COULD STOP PAYING FOR SHITTY MOVIES.

      And Yes, I am a hypocrite.

  9. Hollywood is even more bereft of new, intelligent ideas than Keynesian economists. They’ve just done a remake of The Karate Kid for Pete’s sake.

    1. Wherein the kid learns Kung Fu. Apparently “Kung Fu Kid” lacks the requisite remake tie-in cachet.

    2. My mom keeps telling me I need to see it. I told her maybe I would when it’s on DVD, but I ain’t plunking down $10 to see a remake of The Karate Kid.

    3. > Hollywood is even more bereft of new, intelligent ideas than Keynesian economists.

      When I first heard that Hollywood was producing a re-make of Red Dawn (2010) a few years ago, I thought that “Red” was going to refer to the Red States, with the obligatory left-wing bias thrown in for good measure.

  10. I have to stick my nose in here and say a positive word about Predator 2.

    It’s generally maligned, but it’s just so over the top that I like it. Colombians, Jamaicans, Mort Downey Jr., commuters blowing each other away on a subway car, Gary Busey, the Predator switching frequencies in the warehouse, Gary Busey cut in half, Danny Glover fighting/chasing the Predator in one extended 35 minute sequence to end the film, the Predator bashing its way through walls in the apartment complex, the Predator smashing up someone’s bathroom to perform ad hoc medical treatment on itself, the Alien skull in the display case [a throwaway joke in set dressing that inspired two more movies, comics, games] the Predator handing Danny Glover the flintlock pistol at the end, it’s all fucking great.

    1. Agreed. It was a fine example of mid-80s dystopian extrapolation.

      1. “It’s my specialty”

        Bill Paxton has a ton of great tag lines.

        1. The Jamaican voodoo drug dealer was my favorite part.

          1. King Willie reading the bones is one of my favorite parts, too.

            Gotta love a movie where some creepy Rasta shaman dude is reading the bones.

            “This is dread, mohn. Truly dread.”

            1. Yet another movie, like Alien 3, where the supporting cast makes the movie compelling moreso than the lead character.

              1. Yeah, I just rewatched part of that movie and I liked it a lot more than I remembered. Of course, compared to the AVP movies, it’s flat-out great.

    2. This is all I can think of when I think of Glover’s clumsy attempt at action hero status with that fight scene.

    3. The thing that struck me most with P2 was the Yautja’s (the predator, for those of you not familiar with the comics and fanfic) was his strict adherence to honorable kills, such as not killing an unarmed adversary or a gestating human female, even a kid packing a toy gun. It’s an ethos that I wish more actual humans would share.

    4. Absolutely right. Only real blemish to that movie being a pacing throughout that muddles it up the before it gets to that great ending.

      1. In some ways the strange pacing enhances the movie for me, because it almost seems like a miniseries, or multiple episodes of an R-rated TV show.

        These days you’re lucky if an action movie even tries to tell ONE story and Predator 2 has all these weird minor characters with weird stories it keeps following down blind alleys.

    5. Also has the great scene with the girl fucking.

  11. The story about the original Predator is that when preview audiences saw the predator running around like man-in-suit Godzilla with dreadlocks, they laughed their asses off. At which point the studio shit a brick until some effects guy said, why don’t we not see the Predator until we’ve had a whole movie to think of him as the ultimate badass, and came up with the business of him being shimmery-half-invisible. It worked; you believed his dreadlocked Darth Vader look by the end.

    Reportedly, a similar thing happened with the Michael Douglas vs. lions movie, The Ghost and the Darkness. Animatronic lions got big laughs in a preview, so then the editor said, let’s do it like Jaws, and replaced almost all the shots of the toy lions with shots of grass being disturbed by something beneath the (amber) waves. Much spookier.

    Sometimes Hollywood has to spend a lot of money to relearn the oldest lessons.

    1. That’s the problem with almost all horror movies, once you’ve seen the thing it’s not scary anymore, except for Barbara Streisand (she was the perfect pick for “spooky vision.”)

    2. In this case I think it also made the film credible. Because if the Predator can be seen, then they just kill it with the Gatling gun or some grenades. Movie over.

      The Predator is only as tough an adversary as it is because of its technological advantage. Sort of the same reason a lion should fear a man.

    3. My golden rule of horror movies is “Never show the monster”. Show a glimpse, show a piece, but never show the whole thing because you ruin the suspension of disbelief. It’s a rule more people should stick with because the monster is usually laughable.

      Special effects has made the problem worse, because they try to build better looking monsters.

    4. Fun fact: Jean-Claude Van Damme was originally cast as the guy in the Predator suit. He shot for like a week until they fired him.

      1. The director must have objected to the Predator dancing.

      2. Not only that Suderman, but he also is reputed to have purposefully injured another stuntman as “proof” the suit and the role was dangerous and he should have been paid more money.

    5. The only reason Spielburg did “Jaws” like that was that mechanical shark did not work as he thought it would. His genius move only came about because of special effects failure.

  12. I have to take issue with the whole “leaving things unanswered” part of this. A lot of movie franchises would have been so much better is they had left some things unanswered.

    Look at Highlander. The first one was badass, but you never find out where the immortals come from or why they exist. They don’t even seem to know. They just are.

    Or for that matter, think midichlorians.

    1. I had forgotten how bad that sequel was…yes, even worse than Aliens…and that is saying something.

      Indeed, the need to answer questions often leads writer down a bad path. As is the perception that they should create some palpable mystery to maintain interest, dropping complicating clues along the way. In combination these can really ruin a good premise and good story. Watchmen and BSG are both good examples.

      1. What sequel? There can be only one [movie].

      2. BSG’s problem was making stuff they threw in on a whim supposedly central to the plot, without any good idea of how they were going to resolve it.

    2. Highlander 2 (The Theatrical Release) was the biggest pile of unmitigated horseshit to come out of Hollywood since the release of Hudson Hawk that same year. Despite that, The Quickening is a great “So bad it’s good” movie. I especially love the part when some homeless guy asks a flying demon bird guy from the planet Zeist (while he is flying) for a light. The homeless man is promptly blown up by some sort of Zeistian incendiary blast. That shit makes my day every time I see it.

      1. [confession]
        I like Hudson Hawk.
        [/confession]

        1. Hudson Hawk is underrated. It’s somehow better now than it was when it came out.

    3. It’s funny, that Highlander movie was premised on the looming ozone catastrophe. Remember that? Good times.

    4. Yeah, I read a good comment on the Star Wars prequels the other day: “George Lucas made three movies to explain three lines of dialogue in the original Star Wars.”

      1. > the Star Wars prequels

        If you have not done so, watch Red Letter Media’s reviews of The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones.

        Definitely not safe for work.

      2. Great line. Too bad Lucas didn’t go the drug addiction/rehab route after the first three. He might have ended up too broke to have made those atrocities.

  13. Peter, is the title of your review a pun or a reference? (And if it’s a pun, that’s not like you.)

    1. Ok, thinking about the Predators’ faces, I guess it’s a pun, and kind of funny. But if so, you could have done something with the alt-text on the Predator photo.

    2. It may or may not be a reference to a bar where Reason has hosted a lot of happy hours over the years.

      http://thebighunt.net/

      1. Gutsy name for a straight bar.

  14. Good piece Peter. I hope M didn’t get dragged along.

    Which is to say that all those burning questions you had about Predator mythology?like how an alien society could develop an economy that consists entirely of sport-hunting and dreadlock salons?go unanswered.

    This may be my all-time favorite sentence from Reason.

    I’ll probably still see it, though.

  15. The first Predator is one of the two best SciFi-action films ever, with Paul Verhoven’s Robocop. And James Cameron sucks: http://www.theinductive.com/cu…..ement.html

    1. To be sure, the choices in descent sf in cinema are few and far between, but…say what?

      Those films most assuredly didn’t suck. And you may be excused if you don’t think that Star Wars is sf, but…

      Not Blade Runner?
      Not Gattaca?
      Not The Matrix (badly over hyped by its many fan boys, but a well executed film none-the-less)?

      And it get worse…

      Not Forbidden Planet?!?

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