Predators: God Bless Creature Franchises

Really, “Predators” is almost the same film as the original, which should tell you whether you will like it or not. Bunch of military-types out in the jungle, getting hunted, trying to figure out how to survive, trying to learn what is actually hunting them, etc. If you want a violent shoot ’em up, mixed with creature feature, then that’s exactly what you get. The advertisements don’t lie.

I’ve read quite a few reviews that suggest “Predators” is the best film in the franchise since the original, and that’s tough to argue, but it isn’t necessarily a compliment. The problem with “Predator” as a franchise is that it never got past the very first film, and it never (until now) actually set up a reliable formula for what we could expect in a Predator movie. “Predator 2” was set in L.A. (not the jungle), and featured a cast decidedly bereft of action stars; whereas the first film had Arnold and Jesse Ventura and Carl Weathers, the second film has Danny Glover and Gary Busey. It’s no surprise that the movie flopped, that fans were disappointed, and that no “Predator 3” was filmed, with the franchise relegated thereafter to comic books and video games. And then we had these “Alien vs. Predator” movies which further complicated the idea of a Predator franchise, since they were more about an alien death match than anything else. So yes, “Predators” is the best film in the franchise since the original…but so what?

The other problem with “Predator” as a franchise (and with “Predators” as a film) is that it’s taken the filmmakers twenty years to simply realize that they should go back to a reliable formula for the next film: bunch of military-types out in the jungle, getting hunted, etc. Twenty years? And all we’ve done is try to copy the formula of the “Alien” franchise, by moving the sequel to a different planet and making the creatures pluralized?

Like I said, this movie gives you exactly what it promises. And I drank a beer while watching, and I lounged back, and for an hour and a half, I thought it was the 1980s again and I was satisfied. But even though “Predators” tries to take the “Aliens” approach with continuing the franchise, this movie doesn’t have the same scope, doesn’t have any characters that we care about in the same way that we cared about the colonial marines in “Aliens,” and doesn’t have any sequences/ set pieces that are nearly as memorable as those in James Cameron’s flick. In a way, this feels more like a “Friday the 13th” sequel than it does like “Aliens.” Uses the same formula (thus preventing you from having a bad experience: seriously, you knew what you were getting), but doesn’t really work as a unique and distinctive film, and only barely builds upon the world of the first.

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