‘Predators’ (2010)

I saw it and I was impressed. And I say that as someone who falls squarely on the Alien side of the fence when it comes to ’80s high-concept horror.

The problem with both previous Predator flicks were that there was very little high-concept. In both preceding entries ( Predator and Predator 2 ), the Predators and the humans were on Earth.

In the first film, the Predators interrupted Arnold Schwarzenegger’s hunt for something or other, and in the sequel, they appeared in a very hot L.A. summer, getting in the way of a police investigation of some sort. In each, it is strictly humans vs. Predators.

In this new Robert Rodriguez film, things have gone 3 paces further, as the protagonists have been kidnapped to an off-world hunting preserve and there is no ‘team’ of humans working against the Predators. Rather, the 7 humans *aren’t* working together. After a short spell they recognize that the 7 of them each represent the worst kind of murderous criminal on Earth and that they have each been selected as quarry for some yet-to-be-determined agent on this new, Earth-like planet.

Rodriguez wrote an original script for Predators back in 1994, long before the AvP franchise was even conceived. To Rodriguez’s credit, Predator s (1995) was conceived as a direct sequel to Predator 2 .

Most interestingly, this really isn’t a Predator movie until well into the 4th reel, when the Predator s finally appear. Until then, the film simply plays as a particularly good episode of The Twilight Zone, where the  hunters  of The Most Dangerous Game size each other up, before trying to do one another in. Rodriguez does a nice job here by prepending a human story to all of the glitchy, gooey and messy effects, remembering that the story should drive the effects and not vice-versa.

The most interesting aspect of this film is the ‘hands-off’ approach that Fox studio chief Tom Rothman has taken with this franchise, after his direct involvement with the ‘ AvP ‘ franchise. Here, Rothman has handed Rodriguez the entire Predator franchise to shoot, not in some Hollywood backlot, but on Rodriguez’s own Troublemaker Studios, out in Austin, TX. The most interesting thing is that the film works as a late addition to entire concept of Auteur filmmaking.

And a great big hats off to Adrien Brody for playing against type and to Topher Grace for making another, great, unaticipated career move.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

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