Monday, February 25, 2019

Predators Post

In 2010, Twenty years after the last Yautja only sequel, and three years after the end of the Xenomorph crossover pair, a gang of the space borne hunters graced the big screen.

If I’d have paid attention and caught the fact that Robert Rodriguez was behind this one, I would have been at that big screen to see it.

The film is a mix of opposites.

Adrian Brody’s Royce and Alice Braga’s Isabelle are built and act as more realistic Special Forces members than the over the top squad from the original.  Yet they and the others are playing humans hijacked to an alien world via unknown means with a mix of other lifeforms to be hunted by the Yautja and their dreadlocked hounds.  
Sadly, stepping away from Ripley’s influence in the Alien Franchise puts Isabelle in the damsel in distress role a bit more often that should happen to an experienced sniper, though her unerring aim rescues a few of her co-stars.

While less overtly, “Ain’t got time to bleed” manly, this group is more effective.  None of the original Predator team took out a foe with their last stands.  Several do in this film, including Hanzo (Louis Ozawa Changchien) who eclipses Billy’s “scream like a leeetle gurl” performance by killing a Yautja using a Katana.

The KNB “Evil Dead” effects guys took over for this one, returning to Predator roots, and expanding with the hounds and the new clan. Derek Mears, Carey Jones, and Brian Steele do admirably in their first turn as multiple Yautja.  The Berserker has a Xenomorph jaw on its mask, for a last tenuous cling to hopes of the franchises combining again.

Much of the original Predator’s success came from the slow reveal of the creature in layers throughout the story.

This film tries to recapture that in reverse almost.

We know what Yautja are and what they look like. Those of us who read the comics know a bit about different clans as well.  The big guys had some cool reveal moments of their looks, technology and pets but held close to classic designs.

Where the slow reveal came from was twofold.

The first was the nature of the “game preserve” planet that the humans had been transported to.

More importantly, however, was the humans themselves.

What this film does is “drop in” a pile of amazingly strong and individualistic character actors.  The ones already mentioned are joined by Danny Trejo, Mahershala Ali, Walton Goggins, Topher Grace and Oleg Tartarov.  Each player has some sort of secret, Predator impressing past, which they guard from the other members of the group they’re thrown together with. How each views group tactics versus self-preservation slowly unfolds throughout their encounters with the Yautja trying to make trophies out of them.

Laurence Fishburne’s Noland adds the amount of depth and quality that he brings to any role. At various times he appears to be an alien, a savior, an enemy, a looney and an innocent.  There are moments where it seems like “Mr. Clean” was rescued and revived after being shot on the Nung River and has been surviving against the Yautja since then.

I’ve been using these to be full reminiscences, spoilers and all.  This one is different, however, as with the cast’s hidden backgrounds; it runs as a multi-tiered mystery all the way through to the end.

Therefore instead of talking about all those reveals, I’m just going to go watch it again.

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