The original Predator managed to achieve cult status and is often compared to the Aliens franchise, but it is unquestionably the lesser of the two. Several B-grade sequels and spin-offs have since tarnished whatever mystique the original film had, and well, the Predator’s design is simply too cheesy to be taken seriously. Unlike the xenomorph in Alien, played by an unusually tall and skinny actor, in Predator it’s nearly impossible to forget that you’re looking at a stuntman in a bad costume. Luckily they have stealth camouflage and wear masks, so you won’t have to look at their stupid faces much.
The Predators are sophisticated enough to have mastered interstellar travel, but apparently haven’t abandoned their primal hunter-gatherer roots. We’re expected to believe that their primary goal is to improve their hunting skills, so they’ve converted an entire planet into an exotic game reserve. The aliens hand-pick human prey based on their lethality stemming from such diverse backgrounds as Yakuza gangster and deathrow inmate. Adrien Brody stars as the typical tough as nails ex-marine and reluctant leader. He’s an odd choice for an action hero, but he beefed up for the role and is a decent foil for the less heartless Alice Braga (City of God). Topher Grace (That ’70s Show), Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix), and Danny Trejo (Machete) round out the human team.
As luck would have it, the alien planet looks a lot like any jungle on Earth. I was hoping that would leave a big chunk of the budget for some impressive special effects, but was sorely disappointed. There’s only one type of creature in the film besides the Predators, and they aren’t as convincing as the dinosaurs in the original Jurassic Park. But perhaps the worst special effect of all is Fishburne’s acting, which is simply embarrassing to watch (not that you can blame him for phoning it in).
The film quickly falls prey to its own tired formula, as the humans are picked off one by one in surprisingly unimaginative fashion with none of the suspense normally associated with the genre. If you’re looking for a sci-fi film about a group of strangers forced to cooperate when they’re thrown into a strange and dangerous game, I would suggest you check out Cube (it does a lot more with a lot less). Predators is not something I would watch again, but it did manage to hold my interest for its duration during a late night Netflix hunt – which should not be taken as a recommendation.
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