Tuesday, August 05, 2008

REVIEW: Predator


Year: 1987
Director: John McTiernan
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Bill Duke, Elpidia Carrillo, Kevin Peter Hall
Distributor: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
MPAA: Rated R

Before John Mctiernan went on to direct the ever so popular movie "Die Hard", he gave us Predator. Predator is now considered a classic by many action film fans. It was considered one of the best SCI-FI action films of the decade and one of Schwarzenegger's better efforts. The movie not only was great, but also introduced a new monster franchise that appears in other films. The film was also a success grossing an estimated $98 million worldwide on a small budget of $15 million. Living in Canada, I first saw Predator on TV and I was only 5 years old. My eyes were simply glued to the TV and I just couldn't stop drooling over how awesome it really was. After spotting it while I was skipping through channels yesterday, I decided to whip out the DVD and give it a review.

Plot Outline:
Army Seargent Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is hired to lead a team of commandos into a Central American jungle to rescue some soldiers who've been kidnapped. But on arrival, they learn they weren't the first unit to arrive and that those who came before them have been gruesomely slaughtered and skinned alive. They soon realize that someone or something is hunting and killing them one by one. Dutch slowly comes to realize the reason for this is that they are the prey of a hunter who is more than human and simply likes killing them for no reason other than pure sport.

I was wowed by it when I was 5 and I'm still wowed by it today. The story is simple and in short terms, its basically the hunter being the hunted. The film is also highly entertaining and full of explosions. It grabs you by the throat and doesn't let go. Director Mctiernan creates a suspenseful mood that is every bit as effective as it can be. We get a few shots of the Predator looking down on his prey and these scenes are nicely done using some sort of thermal vision to make the Predator different than humans. This makes for an impressive sense of claustrophobia while leading to an uncertainty and an impending doom. The film also had me on the edge of my seat while keeping the interest up. I was so eager to find out what will happen next. This isn't those predictable action movies that plague us in today's world. Sure we do get a few cheesy lines and the story does leave you with some unanswered questions, but these hardly ever get in the way of how fun this movie really is. Besides, I still love that memorable quote where Arnold says "If it bleeds, we can kill it".

Arnold Schwarzenegger plays as Dutch and hes fine for this role. Sure his acting isn't great, but I found him to be very enjoyable and enough to easily handle the torch of being the main protagonist in the film. Carl Weathers plays as Dillonand and he too is good for his role. His lack of faith and certain charisma makes him an interesting character. Elpidia Carrillo plays as Anna in the film. She does a decent job even though she doesn't have many lines. I think someone else could have played this part just as good or even better than what Carrillo did. Bill Duke plays as Mac and he gives a good performance. I enjoyed his character and thought he was great in this movie. I was impressed by Dukes work here even though this was early in his career. The late Kevin Peter Hall plays as The Predator and hes great. Sure his character hardly says anything, but I think Hall was a good choice to be playing this character. Hes tall and well built for the part.

The visual look of Predator is probably the films weakest area. As solely for the special effects, they are good. For a film of its time, the effects certainly look good. The late Stan Winston has done a nice job on creating a creature that looks great, but also iconic in a way. As for the rest of the film, its actually a big disappointment. The films source is in bad position and theirs film grain just about everywhere. Colors can look pretty at times, but they aren't vibrant enough. The jungle setting of the movie doesn't pop or wow me like it should. The night scenes also don't hold up well with blacks not being dark enough. Detail is also on the soft side even with close up shots. Fox really needs to remaster this film in high definition so we can all witness how the movie should have looked like.

The soundtrack in Predator is simply riveting. Composer Alan Silvestri who also scored the 1985 hit "Back to the Future", does a fantastic job here. He creates a score that easily goes well with the film, but one that also stays in your head. Its truly wonderful and one of the best SCI-FI music I have heard in awhile. The music is also effectively well used in ever scene. The films bass is average which is kind of a surprise. A movie like this was bound to rock on your set up, but it doesn't. I mean it sounds fine, but just not as great as I would have hoped for. I think Fox needs to remaster the soundtrack too because a great soundtrack like this shouldn't sound outdated and yet it does.

Predator is easily one of the best SCI-FI films of the decade. Not only is it one of Schwarzenegger's better films, but it even stands the test of time. I enjoyed this film when I was little and I still found it to be great. The story is engaging and really entertaining. The cast works fine and I found most of them to be enjoyable. The visual look of the movie is soft and needs remastering, but at least the special effects look good for its time. The soundtrack is lively and has a fantastic score made by Alan Silvestri even though it could also use a remastering. I can easily recommend this film to any action film fans or to those seeing an entertaining film. Its one of those rare action films that belong in your collection.

Grade: B


David Bishop said...

McTiernan and Arnold team up again in a movie called Last Action Hero. It's not too well reviewed but I really love it. It's really just a spoof of the action films of the 80's and early 90's.

Farzan said...

yeah, I use to love that movie when I was a kid, but I havent seen that movie in awhile now

Matt Cyganik said...

Predator is a fun film, but it could've used more... Golden Girls.

Haha anyways, I own LAH on DVD, so perhaps that would be a fun future installment on my DVD reviews...

Fletch said...

Good call, David. I think people missed the memo that Last Action Hero was a parody of Arnold's earlier work, and that he was not only in on the joke, but that he was the one making it. Sure, it could have been better, but it's a fun ride.

As for Predator, the beauty is in it's simplicity. It's a no bullshit, no frills, straight-up actioner. It ages so well mostly because it's set in a jungle, but also because the special effects are minimal.

Farzan said...

LOL, I love how you put it Fletch