Dismissed and seemingly forgotten, is the third film in the Predator franchise any good?
I love the original Predator starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and directed so well by John McTiernan. Released to cinemas in 1986, my first viewing would probably have been a broadcast on ITV many years later, here in England.
A sequel, Predator 2 was released three years later in 1990, moving the film from the jungles of South America to the then future (1997) urban jungle of a future Los Angeles.
It doesn’t better the original, but that doesn’t make it a bad film. Having rewatched it recently, I think it’s still a worthy follow up.
And then the Predator franchise kind of went quiet for a long time on the big screen. However, there were still comics, novels and video games to keep the fans of the franchise happy.
In part to an Easter egg from Predator 2, we received a cross-over with the Alien franchise with Alien vs. Predator in 2004, followed by Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem in 2007.
I really liked the first crossover (except the extended unrated cut on DVD which makes it worse), but I remember not enjoying Requiem so much. I plan on rewatching it again for an upcoming Retro Review.
Twentieth Century Fox knew there was still money in the franchise and decided to make a third stand-alone Predator film based on a script they received from director Robert Rodriguez back in 1994.
They originally passed on the script because the proposed budget was too great, but if they kept the core idea and slimmed it down, it could work in their favour.
So, in 2010, we got the theatrical release of Predators, the third stand-alone entry in the franchise. Robert Rodriguez moved over to the producer position and Nimrod Antel came aboard for directing duties.
The gang’s all here!
The film opens with some kind of soldier free-falling to the Earths surface. He’s unconscious but wakes up in time to see the alien device on his chest activate and deploy a parachute that allows him to land safely.
Once on the ground, he meets up with others who have been dropped, and they all share the same traits. They have all killed in some way and none of them remember how they ended up in free fall.
Together, they try and take stock of their situation and after an attack from some dangerous dog like alien creatures which are then recalled by an off-screen force, one of the characters figures out what’s really happening.
Something or someone is hunting them for sport and this is definitely not Earth.
I remember watching Predators back in 2010 and not feeling too good about it. Perhaps I was too excited about a new film in the franchise, and it simply couldn’t meet my expectations.
So why am I trying again? It’s been over a decade since I’ve watched it, and who can resist a Blu-ray from the charity shop for just £1?
I’m happy to say that Predators is a much better film than I remembered it.
Predators has a great cast of actors representing different styles of killers from around the world. For example, we have the Yakuza (Louis Ozawa), a drug cartel enforcer (Danny Trejo) and even a straight-up serial killer, FBI’s number three most wanted (Walton Goggins).
The assumed leader of the pack comes in the form of a soldier named Royce played by Adrien Brody. Now whilst I can’t say anything negative about his acting per se, for me personally, he doesn’t feel like a gruff soldier, and I’m not convinced about the voice he puts on either.
You don’t really want to wake this big fella!
However, the group of characters is great as a whole and I believed that they all reacted to their situations with a degree of realism. With such a large, diverse group, it is hard to guess who will survive to the films climax. Although one character does get out a picture of his children, so that was a definite giveaway.
Although I’m not entirely convinced by one characters selfish sacrifice to save the others, and it feels like an enhanced retread of following the original film.
This is Predators weakest aspect, and this is in part what put me off the film on my original viewing all those years ago.
There are many homages, references, call them what you will, to the original film, even a new composition of the original soundtrack is re-used in several places. Perhaps I’ve matured in my views over the last ten years, but I didn’t find it as annoying as before.
A huge round of applause though to the special effects’ wizards. The strange alien dogs, for reasons I couldn’t remember, I hated on my first viewing, but I thought they were great this time around.
Nice doggy. Cute little pooch. Maybe I’ve got a Milk-Bone.
I must give a special mention to one creature that only has a fleeting appearance, but I’m convinced that it’s a nod to the original unused Predator design from the original film. This was originally played by a guy in a suit, you may have heard of him, Jean-Claude Van Damme. Not word of a lie, that’s a very interesting story.
The bulk of the creature work is with the group of Predators that feature in this film. They all look fantastic with a couple of new gadgets to play with as well as the old classics such as the shoulder mounted laser cannon. There is a lot of practical visual effects on show here, and it all looks wonderful.
Predators, I feel, has been forgotten by most as a lacklustre entry to the series, there seems to be dirt cheap copies of it everywhere.
But I think it really is a worthy entry to the franchise, possible just beating out Predator 2 in my estimations.
Predators is a solid science fiction action film that can either stand alone or work just as well as the third entry to the franchise.