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To fully appreciate the new Robert Rodriguez produced and Nimród Antal directed Predators, you need to appreciate the 1987 classic sci-fi/horror, John McTiernan directed, Arnold Schwarzenegger legend known as Predator. Lucky for you, I’m an expert.

Predator not only solidified Arnold’s status as a box office golden boy, but it was the launching pad for a new science fiction/action movie hybrid and a new franchise for Twentieth Century Fox. Comic books, video games and a less favorable sequel starring Danny Glover came afterwards (I love Predator 2) and soon, a new movie monster had hit the public consciousness.

In 2004, combining with another FOX entity, the Predator franchise merged with the Aliens movies and we were treated to two Aliens vs Predator films. Both films were met with mixed reviews and some might say both franchises were somewhat tarnished by the team ups.

I dug the idea of joining the franchises as I saw them as a throwback to the golden years of monster movie cinema where something cool like a Frankenstein vs. The Wolfman or King Kong vs. Godzilla could exist, however AvP:Requiem (2007) was a joke.

With studios in what we fanboys like to deem the “Reboot Age,” where franchises like Batman, Nightmare on Elm Street, and the upcoming Spider-Man and X-Men relaunches are just ways of cashing in on the newest generations of fil goers, it only makes sense for FOX to reboot one of its biggest properties.

Actually, as the story goes, back in the day, FOX approached then up and coming director Robert Rodriguez to write a sequel to the first Predator. I forget why it fell through, (I think because Arnold passed on it…) but Rodriguez wrote a script that never got produced. Fast forward to present day and FOX re-approaches now successful director Robert Rodriquez to get the Predator train back on the track. R.R. gets promising new director Antal (Armored) and screenwriters Alex Litvak and Michael Finch and Predators is born.

Predators in a way, is a reboot and a sequel at the same time. I’d like to call it a re-introduction. Essentially, it’s for the next generation of moviegoers to get a taste of the Demon Who Makes Trophies of Man.

As a die hard fan of the original film, I can honestly say that I absolutely loved this new film. When I say die hard, I mean, can probably quote the film ad-nauseum, could give a college thesis on it and own the soundtrack (listening to it as I write this review).

Predators is everything I wanted out of a new Predator film and then some. It’s flawed in parts, sure, and I’ll get to that later, but let’s focus on what it does right.

The popularity of the first film was complex. There was the group dynamic – amazing cast of characters, centered around a strong leader type. The cast was strong with many different personalities and archetypes. There was the solid A plot – a group of soldiers on a rescue mission. The military aspect of the film was well developed and smart.

Then there’s the sci-fi/horror twist – the group of soldiers is actually being hunted by an alien. The entire film builds to a climatic conclusion all the while introducing a movie monster that is actually noble and intelligent with a warrior’s honor. This creature doesn’t just kill these men mindlessly; it hunts for sport.

What Predators does right is that it recognizes what made the first film great and tries to emulate it while not outright copying it. Predators recreates the group dynamic of the first film but puts a spin on it.

A group of the world’s deadliest warriors are brought together for unknown reasons at an unknown location. Together they must figure out where they are and why. This new group is not only racially diverse, but socially as well. And like the first film, all of these warriors have a specialty and a charm all unto themselves.

The next thing Predators does right is in its script. The only reason the first film wasn’t completely laughed out of the theaters was because of its tight, smart script which focused on the parallels of what man’s capable of vs. that of what a monster is capable of. Predators is a smart, concise action film where every single one of its characters make realistic moves and reactions. The soldiers act like real soldiers and the characters live and breathe.

Like any good sci-fi/horror flick, a lot of the fun is the mystery of the story. More savvy viewers of the film might see beats coming from a mile away, but for the overall structure of a film, those beats have to be there. Antal does a great job of unraveling the curiosity of what really is going on and just where the hell these characters are going next.

The script also is complex in the fact that it not only plays out the story of protagonists, but it also has some depth. Not only is the first Predator film referenced, but the mythos is expanded. Through our characters experiences we learn more of the Predators' technological advancement, their hunting practices and interestingly enough, their social classes.

We are also witness to the parallels of what hunting the world’s most deadliest game can do the hunter.

Predators could have easily just been a quickie action movie with lots of blood and guts and no soul. But as a true fan of the franchise this movie honored the original film while also expanding the scope and hopefully capturing a new audience.

The cast is fun and they all work. I was skeptical with Oscar winner Adrien Brody as the lead but as the mercenary he actually worked. At times he tried a little too hard to be the “tough guy” but as a whole, you may be looking at the next big action star. Alice Braga (I Am Legend) is the sniper, and she provides a lot of the humanity of the film. Other stand outs are personal fave Walton Goggins as the death row convict Stans and Oleg Taktarov as Nikolai, the Russian with a heart.

The action of the film is ballistic and gutsy. Bullets fly. Energy Blasts fly. Blood is spilled and people die.

Where I felt the film faltered for a bit was it was a little heavy handed with Predator dialogue references. I understand the need to honor the original, but as a hard core fan like myself, I only found it cheesy when I hear lines like, “You’re one ugly Mutha@#@%” and “Over Here/Turn Around” and “Kill Me I’m Here!” used all over this new film. The first film was cool and it used those lines. This is a new film, so write some new lines.

Also, some could complain about how close this film is to the original in some tones. For example – it’s back to the jungle, which is how we all want it to be anyway, but other similarities are just too obvious. Predator had Jesse Ventura toting a mini gun. Predators has Oleg Taktarov toting a mini gun. Predator had a little Latina girl who spoke broken English exposition. Predators has a little Latina girl who speaks broken English exposition. Predator had a Native American draw his machete to take on a Predator. Predators has a Japanese Yakuza member drawing a katana to take on a Predator and much, much more…

Maybe because I’m such a die hard fan I notice this stuff and it’s only a slight nitpick, but I could have done without.

Overall though, I was actually very happy with the whole film. Antal did a great job with the direction, and I especially liked all the cinematic nods he sneaks in the film. I think I was most pleased with the script because the film had me guessing the whole time and I really enjoy that nowadays in films. I really liked the cast and I think they did a great job building off of each other’s energy.

Inevitably it all builds up to the climactic conclusion and I was happy to say that the movie ends the way it should and now I can’t wait to see it again. Robert Rodriguez and crew should be very proud of themselves because Predators will easily sit next to its predecessor as a damn fine film.

Lon Lopez

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