Happy October and welcome! All 31 days this month, I will be reviewing all the films I watch in the month of October. They’re mostly a selection of horror or suspense films in my own library or films and shows that have been recommended to me.
Please enjoy and leave a comment!
And if you missed any of our past reflections, take a look:
The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
The Haunting (1963)
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)
The Other (1972)
The Legend of Hell House (1973)
Young Frankenstein (1974)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
The Shining (1980)
Halloween II (1981)
The Evil Dead (1981)
Halloween III – Season of the Witch (1982)
Teen Wolf (1985)
Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
The Monster Squad (1987)
The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
The Lost Boys (1987)
Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn (1987)
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
They Live (1988)
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
Ghostbusters II (1989)
Predator 2 (1990)
The Addams Family (1991)
Alien 3 (1992)
Army of Darkness (1992)
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
The Crow (1994)
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)
From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
Alien: Resurrection (1997)
Scream 2 (1997)
Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)
The Sixth Sense (1999)
What Lies Beneath (2000)
Scream 3 (2000)
28 Days Later (2002)
Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)
The Ring (2002)
Halloween: Resurrection (2002)
AVP: Alien vs Predator (2004)
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Snakes on a Plane (2006)
Alien vs Predator: Requiem (2007)
Halloween II (2009)
Our next film is…
WATCHING: Predators (2010)
DIRECTOR: Nimrod Antal who directed the underrated Vacancy before this and who went on to direct for shows like Wayward Pines and Servant.
WHAT IS IT?: This is the third stand-alone film in the Predator franchise and the fifth Predator film if we’re counting the AVP films.
Robert Rodriguez (“Planet Terror (“Grindhouse”), “Sin City”, “Desperado”) wrote a script for a third film EONS ago. Fox turned him down because they thought the budget would go through the roof. Years later, they contacted him to use his treatment and said they wanted him for the third film.
For whatever reason, Rodriguez only ended up producing the film instead of writing and directing like he should have. The script duties were handed over to (checks notes) Alex Litvak and Michael Finch, two screenwriters who have written about a dozen films between the two of them. Oh, sorry. That’s the amount of films they’ve written following this feature. “Predators” was their first script.
THE PLOT: A group of strangers with various violent, military and medical backgrounds find themselves stranded on another planet — and being hunted for sport by a race of everyone’s favorite alien hunters — The Predators.
WHAT DID THE CRITICS THINK?: The film received mixed-to-positive reviews which some critics praising the film for going back to the original film’s roots. Other critics, like Roger Ebert, were not happy with the cast’s inability to be taken seriously while Entertainment Weekly thought the characters were cardboard cutouts of cliches.
WHAT DID I THINK?: Luckily, Predators is based on Rodriguez’s original idea, so the concept, at the very least, is interesting. The execution of the concept, however, is by-the-numbers and the pacing isn’t nearly as good as the first two films with some fairly flat dialogue. It’s really odd that the studio had Rodriguez, put him on as a producer and ultimately hired two no-name writers who went on to author some straight-to-video messes and a director whose only major credit was the so-so horror film, “Vacancy”.
Director Nimrod Antal helms this one. There’s no real style evident here. Antal was apparently chosen because “he handled large ensemble casts well” which is like choosing your alcoholic uncle to direct “Leaving Las Vegas” because he “knows a lot of about alcohol”.
Adrien Brody leads the cast as “Royce”, a mysterious military commando who threateningly growls or whispers each line like he’s Dirty Harry. He’s another odd choice for a leading man in an action film and he’s not entirely convincing but, much like Danny Glover in “Predator 2”, he’s fine.
He has a nice supporting cast that spans the globe in Topher Grace, who plays “Edwin”, a doctor, Alice Braga who plays an IDF sniper, Walton Goggins who plays a prison inmate, Oleg Taktarov who plays a Russian special forces solider, Danny Trejo who plays a Mexican drug cartel enforcer, Mahershala Ali as a Revolutionary United Front officer and Louis Ozawa Changchien as an enforcer for the Yakuza.
Thankfully, the film doesn’t mow through the cast like a cheap horror film, which provides the audience with some great interactions between the different cast members and gives us an idea of what each of their specialties are, which has the pleasant side effect of giving us some great action sequences.
Laurence Fishburne appears in the second act as a U.S. Army Air Cavalry officer who has been on the Predators’ gaming planet for quite some time, before the rest arrived, rounding out the cast, beautifully. Everyone involved is good and you still root for them, even if their performances are not wholly compelling.
The effects team does a nice job with the monsters as well as the setting. Most of this was shot in Hawaii and it manages to look alien and not of this world. Despite this, there’s a supreme lack of suspense in the film and with several Predators hunting multiple good guys, it feels less like an action piece and more like a glorified reality game show. This movie just feels mechanical.
Veteran composer John Debney takes the reigns from Alan Silvestri…and it just feels slightly upgraded, removing the tribal drums Silvestri added into the sequel score and adding some guitar riffs. Still, Debney just takes a lot of what Silvestri did and calls it “new”. Sure, it has some stuff inspired by other composers (Zimmer and Goldsmith come to mind) but it’s pretty forgettable.
My main issue with this movie is that there aren’t any real stakes to the whole game and the final battle is pure crap with a resolution that isn’t very satisfying. The jungle setting is also monotonous. We’ve been there and done that. Points, though, for having a fairly diverse cast and exploring various cultures.
I’d rank this behind the first two “Predator” films and above AVP2 thus far…