Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini


Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, Alice Braga, Laurence Fishburne, Topher Grace, Alice Braga,
Oleg Taktarov, Louis Ozewa Changchien, Danny Trejo, Walton Goggins and Mahershalalhashbaz Ali

Rated: R Strong creature violence and gore, and pervasive language
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: July 9, 2010 Released by: Twentieth Century Fox

There's not much to this expensive, clamorous sci-fi horror thriller presented by Robert Rodriquez (Spy Kids, Grindhouse) which attempts to breathe some life into a successful franchise attracting principally male interest. At least it may attract newbies to seek out the original with now Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and former Gov. Jesse Ventura less frayed and more entertaining.

Predators stars Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, Alice Braga and Laurence Fishburne in a chaotic tale centering on a group of elite warriors systematically hunted down by merciless aliens.

Unfortunately, the early going in Nimrod Antal's film is the most visually stimulating with Brody's mercenary Royce among eight appearing in a descent to a mysterious jungle.

This octet probably has been weeded through a process given their variety of attributes. Besides Royce is an erudite scientist (Topher Grace), a lauded military woman (Alice Braga), Russian brawler (Oleg Taktarov), and homicidal Yakuza (Louis Ozawa Changchien). As well as rugged Mexican (Danny Trejo, a Rodriquez favorite), a man on death-row (Walton Goggins), and an African warrior (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali).

It doesn't take long for the characters (and the audience) to realize that they are in a harsh, sadistic environment engaged in a life and death struggle. Along the way there is a hermit with an imaginary friend (Fishburne of Antal's increasingly anemic Armored) who seems to have lost his sanity while remaining alive long enough to connect with these personalities who have attitude to burn.

Some may get a laugh or two out of the all the cliches thrown out as a visceral representation of something like the "Outer Limits" or, of late, the recently defunked small-screen "Lost" with a certain plausible, stylish premise. Otherwise, the action becomes more wearisome than it should given all the clashes some of which may make some long for Kurosawa.

Antal may have devised an initially probing parable with his scribes, Alex Litvak and Michael Finch, but the proceedings aren't on sound footing like the bumbling, grunting characters at odds with one another. Moreso, the stereotypes stand out, from the consistent dire straits of Grace's fallen doctor to the motifs and romance emanating between a buff Brody (better in a less predictable, if flawed Splice) and humanistic Braga (a gory, indifferent Repo Men, but better in I Am Legend).

Maybe if one could look past the major plothole and contrivances, the desired demographic may get into a series of face-offs with obvious detailed visuals, including the cloaking of the titular creatures. To his credit, Antal injects a steely frenzy that offers its share of jolts. Too bad the lighting couldn't have made the heated confrontations difficult to know who is doing what to whom. In the process the ultimate resolution is deficiently cloaked into risible hot summer survivalist fare.

  Frank Chris Jim Nina Sam Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
Predators  C-      C-   C               C- 

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