In Predators, the latest movie in the franchise, a group of humans is thrown into the jungle to be sport for a new variety of Predators. Unlike the band of soldiers in the original movie, this group is made up of individuals–mercenaries, killers, and gangsers–who’ve never met and their first challenge is to be smart enough to not kill each other. We’re thrown onto the planet with them falling to the surface in the opening moments. It is a fast start and allows us to learn this new setting with the characters. As the team bonds and learns how to work together we watch the complex relationships develop. It is a fabulous cast including Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, Alice Braga, Walton Goggins, Laurence Fishburne, Oleg Taktarov, and Danny Trejo. The performers don’t seem to realize they are in a low budget, action sequel. They take the movie with a seriousness that lets the viewer dive into the world and the story. It made me glad they spent the limited budget on actors rather than visual effects.
The Personal Drama of a Disaster Flick
There are many, many nods to the original movie for fans along with surprising twists. You never know how the band of humans, who would in any other circumstances be the villains, will react. Will they work together? Who will cut and run when the chips are down? Who will sell the others out? Who will turn out to be the scariest predator? In that respect it is a little like a disaster flick. Figuring out the character dynamics is what keeps it interesting when you already know bad things are going to happen and that a cloaked Predator is going to appear at any moment.
The Romance Factor
One of the many reasons I’ve always loved action movies is that there is often a nod to romance. What good is it to be a hero if you don’t also get the girl? Add sci-fi to the mix and you often get a strong, capable heroine who can kick alien but as well as, if not better than, her male counterparts—Ripley, Sara Connor, Princess Leia. It is another factor that makes the genre work for me and Predators does not disappoint. The lone female character, Isabelle, is the only one who challenges the impromptu leader, Royce. It is not an overt romance, but it does add a layer of tension that I found appealing.
The Honor Factor
One of the things I love about the Predators is their warrior culture and the honor at the heart of it. I think the new breed of predators is lacking a bit in this area. Maybe this is just because the humans were all picked because they themselves are known predators. There is no question as to whether they are valid prey. But there is just something about the new Predators that grates the wrong way. Luckily, the one traditional Predator that appears in the film does behave with honor, so I don’t feel let down.
Predators is now available on DVD. It takes us back to the jungle and the feel of the original movie and mixes in the off world elements woven into the franchise through its sequels and Alien cross over movies. Overall, I think if you liked any of the Predator movies, you will enjoy this one.
So, what do you think makes a good sequel? And what are some you think were done right?