Thursday, 15 July 2010

The Most Dangerous Game

Predators 2010 US
Directed by Nimród Antal
Screening at cinemas now

Ok then. Grit my teeth and get on with it. This is another one of those reviews I wasn’t looking forward to writing. Minor spoilers... here we go then...

Predator 5 is actually called Predators, presumably in an attempt to make people forget the last three sequels and give the movie a kind of tie in feel to James Cameron’s successful ALIENS... although why the marketing people would want to emulate one of the least interesting of the Alien films is beyond my understanding (yeah, ALIENS is an okay movie, especially in its longer cut, but it’s still the least watchable of the first four Alien movies).

I have to go on record straight away and say that I didn’t really care too much for the previous four Predator movies. I remember seeing the first one back in the cinema when it came out and not having a good time with it. Thought it was a hackneyed old movie even then and at the point where Arnold Schwarzenneger kinda outruns a small nuclear explosion... that’s when I lost interest about ever watching this one again. I thought the take on the idea with Danny Glover in Predator 2 was marginally better... but again, once I’d seen it at the cinema, it’s not something I’d been tempted to revisit in the time since its first release. I thought the first Aliens VS Predator movie was okay and by far the most repeat-watchable, in spite of having an absolutely unforgivable continuity error which screws up its place as part of the Alien films. I thought the second Aliens VS Predator was nothing but the worst, unthinking, disrespectful side swipe to both franchises where the two alien races have been marginalised to playing “the monster” in some kind of irritating kind of teenage slasher movie... the lowest point that either of these franchises could possibly reach.

So bearing that in mind, I accompanied a friend to see the new one thinking... well it can’t be as bad as the last one!

And you know what? I was right! It wasn’t as bad as the last one... in fact it looks a little like a masterpiece in comparison to the last one... it’s just that it’s decidedly unimpressive and another movie that starts with an okay premise but then drops the ball with lukewarm scripting and execution.

And the premise is almost as old as the history of celluloid.

For Predators is no less than yet another remake of 1932’s The Most Dangerous Game (aka Hounds of Zaroff). The only difference being that it drops you straight into the action from the word go and doesn’t have the shipwreck or the dinner party small talk at the start of the movie (which, to be honest, it could have really done with).

So... a bunch of humans being hunted on a big alien planet (instead of an island) and all the obvious twists and turns (and they are really obvious) that come hand in hand with negotiating that kind of celluloid terrain without bothering to do much fresh or new with it.

Robert Rodriguez script for this movie is said to have been hanging around Hollywood for ten years or so. Now my friend loved the movie (and has already seen it twice) but his take on the cliched and obvious scripting was because a) it’s an old script (um... I reckon they would have given it another polish or preferably an overhaul before they shot it) and b) that it’s an homage to old, early nineties action movies when such bad scripting was part and parcel of the fun of watching. Hmm... no... I can’t see that myself. I think it’s just another victim of a screenplay which looked good on paper and sounded good when read... and possibly even had great rushes... but when it’s all cobbled together they ended up with something like the finished product and they either liked it or they didn’t but... hey... it’s a lot better than the last movie.

And as I said, I have nothing personally against the movie... just wish it would have ended up as something more than... well, unremarkable... which is the way a lot of modern movies seem to be getting released these days.

If you’re a big fan of the Predator franchise then you’re almost certainly going to have a good time at the cinema with this one... if you’re on the fence or just plain indifferent to our dreadlocked alien friends then you’re probably less likely to get anything much out of the experience.

John Debney’s workable, does what it says on the tin kind of score references Alan Silvestri’s score from the first film quite a lot, which was also an okayish score. Worth a listen though, again, if you’re a fan of the first score in the series.

My final verdict... okay score... not so terrible a movie. Lots of room for improvement.

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