The Videogum Movie Club: Predators

Oh man, the beginning of Predators was so good! When it just opens in the middle of the sky and Adrien Brody is falling through the sky and he’s just like “fuuuuuuuuuuuuu” and there’s a flashing light on his chest and it’s just like “BEEP BEEP BEEP” and you are like, “Adrien Brody, be careful! Get out of the sky, Adrien Brody” and then his chute opens, but it opens too late, and he is just crashing through the trees POP CRACK POP POP! He hits the ground, and before you can even think to yourself “Wait a second, if a highly advanced alien life form is going to go to all the trouble of scouring the universe for dangerous game to hunt on an entire planet that they have set aside as a gaming preserve, you would think they could at least make the parachutes open on time,” BAM, Adrien Brody hits the ground, and BAM, the Predators title pops up on the screen. Now THAT is how you start a movie! Seriously, more movies should start that way. Imagine if Juno started with Ellen Page just falling through the sky and she’s freaking out and doesn’t know how she got there and then BOOM, Ellen Page smashes into the ground. “Looks like her chute didn’t open.” (That’s a reference for all the Predators heads. Memorable Quotes!) Seriously, though, I really enjoyed the first five minutes of Predators.

And then there was the rest of Predators.

I mean, it was fine! There are way worse movies in the world than Predators. It basically did what it was supposed to do. Everyone died one by one until there was a final battle sequence. If this was a homework assignment on how to put together a serviceable sci-fi action-adventure movie with a horror element, the teacher would be like, “Check Minus!” And like I said, I really liked the beginning. I actually liked the whole beginning, not just the falling through the sky part, but also the parts where everyone is finding each other in the jungle and trying to figure out what was going on and eventually making it up to that ledge and seeing all those planets in the sky and getting all Toy Story 3 landfill firepit scene. I also liked the end well enough. I liked that they were stuck on the planet and you see the sky filled with new parachutes and it’s just kind of grim and hopeless, because that was realistic, as far as that word extends for this movie, and because I was really dreading some garbage deus ex machina where, like, Neil Patrick Harris pulls up on a horse and everyone goes to get hamburgers.

But it is not like the movie didn’t have its problems. “Wait a second: a low-budget Predators sequel starring a b-list cast developed and produced by Robert Rodriguez (Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams) had problems? Gabe, I am having trouble believing what you are saying.” Believe it!

The movie looked cheap and kind of plodded along in the middle and the battle scenes were unimaginative and this movie fell into the same empathy deficit as any movie about a gang of ruthless murderers, because who cares if they all die. There were some other logic issues that never really were addressed because it would take too long and be too boring, like the fact that the alien planet had Earth’s atmosphere, and even Earth’s rare poisonous plants (!!!!??!!!!!) which is already very convenient, but then the planet supports all kinds of other alien beings that have been brought from across the universe to be hunted? How does that work? Don’t their planets have different ecosystems? But sure. Those problems are to be expected. What did you think, someone was going to SPEND TIME WORKING THIS THROUGH? Get real, guys.

My favorite thing, though, was everyone’s ability to synthesize huge amounts of information almost instantly. Like, if I woke up to find myself falling through the sky, and then found a group of strangers in the jungle (each of whom was armed and kind of wanted to kill me) and then we walked to a ridge overlooking an infinite valley of death and in the sky hung massive alien planets, MY FUCKING HEAD WOULD FALL OFF. Wait, no, excuse me, I would poop my pants, AND THEN MY HEAD WOULD FALL OFF. Instead, Adrien Brody is like “well clearly we are on an alien planet that is used exclusively as a hunting preserve.” Wow! It is weird that Adrien Brody was just a soldier back on Earth. He should have been a GENIUS. (And no, Adrien Brody’s character, dropping some stupid Hemingway quote does not make you a genius.)

Similarly, when they are with the coconut Laurence Fishburne in his apartment, he explains that the Predators are involved in an ancient blood feud. Uh, how do you know that? Haven’t you spent the last 10 “seasons” HIDING and trying to clean the poop out of your pants and put your head back on your neck? Personally, I think that survival on the Predators hunting preserve planet would be enough work without all the CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY RESEARCH.

But the main problem with this movie is the same problem with the entire Predator franchise, which is that no one has satisfactorily answered the question: why would hunting human beings ever be even remotely interesting to the Predators? Like, you are super strong, you have laser canons, you have the technology to surreptitiously kidnap alien lifeforms from across the universe, and you are FUCKING INVISIBLE, and yet you consider some dude with a samourai sword to be a challenging quarry? Give me a break. There just is no real challenge here.

My friend Andrew actually had the very best review of Predators I have seen so far:

Don’t even get me started on Topher Grace’s character’s twist. “Now you can understand why they brought me to this planet.” Why? Because you paralyze people with plant juice and then give them boring lectures about your feelings of alienation? Again, this is a HUNTING PRESERVE, and you are a skinny dude in a hoodie with a scalpel in his pocket (you know how doctors are?). The predators would just be like “he’s not even worth the plasma charge it would take to fire our shoulder lazers. Let’s just punch him in the face until he dies.” But reader Sven pointed out in an email that he found it very exciting when Topher said that he wanted to “stay with the Monsters.” Aww. Pervert!

So the movie was uneven, but it had its moments. At the very least, it was better than Terminator: Salvation. So it’s got that going for it, which is nice.