You know the drill, I suppose. The Predator is a
big-game hunter from another planet. He and his colleagues come to
earth from time to time on safari, in search of humans tough enough to
make the hunt a thrilling challenge. In the original film, the
Predator took on a team of elite special forces guys in the jungles of
Central America. The sequel moved the action to central L.A., where
Preddy is taking out the baddest drug lords and cops he can find.
His ultimate prey is Danny Glover, who plays a rogue cop who makes his own
rules. (Gee, we've never seen one of those on film before.)
Not aware that his enemy is an alien, Glover
wants to get Mr Predator in a mano-a-mano situation, but he keeps
getting shunted off the case by his superiors and the Feds. It's not
enough that ol' Danny has to take on an invisible hi-tech alien who is
about 8'6", 450, but he also has to cope with some Feds who know all
about the alien, and want to capture him alive, for scientific and
military purposes. Glover doesn't know jack-all about science, but he
knows this: Seņor Predator killed his partner, and for that he's goin'
I had never seen this film before today. It's a
lot better than I expected it to be. It completely abandoned any and
all attempts at credibility, so it took some hard shots from
critics. In fact, it really wasn't a big favorite of the hard-core
Predator fans either, and it certainly has its faults, but I found that it had some real positives:
1. The film has an odd and creative visual sense.
The L.A. of the story is not like the one we know. It has some common
elements with the real Los Angeles, but it has just as many elements
in common with Batman's Gotham City, Tim Burton variation. The film was lensed in 1990 but
set in 1997, so the genre was theoretically "dystopia." Maybe the
film's bad reviews had something to do with the sheer absurdity of
expecting Los Angeles to turn so quickly into a chaotic war zone ruled
by the criminals. As we view it from 2006 and later, that no longer
matters. We can just view it as a fantasy set in a re-imagined L.A.
2. Some off-beat performances by Morton Downey Jr
(as a slimy "tabloid TV" reporter) and Bill Paxton (as a smart-ass
cop) provide welcome comic relief. Actually, you could list
these as positives or negatives. They were negative in the sense of
"totally lacking in credibility" but, hell, the whole movie is
lacking in credibility so I just kicked back and let it flow. Given
your acceptance of a premise that the story takes place in an alternate universe which
is a funhouse mirror version of our own, you should find those two guys
3. There is genuine tension and a sense of drama
in the hunting and showdown scenes. Director Stephen Hopkins is quite
competent, and has shown himself to be comfortable with a lot of very
different kinds of movies. He has made six more movies since Predator
2, and five of them are rated higher at IMDB. They are not all good
movies, but some of them are.
- (6.78) -
Life and Death of Peter Sellers (2004)
- (6.40) -
Ghost and the Darkness (1996)
- (6.39) -
Under Suspicion (2000)
- (6.10) -
Judgment Night (1993)
- (5.70) -
Blown Away (1994)
- (5.50) -
Predator 2 (1990)
- (4.98) -
Dangerous Game (1987)
- (4.70) -
in Space (1998)
- (4.42) -
Nightmare On Elm Street: The Dream Child (1989)
Predator 2 has some weaknesses as well.
1. Danny Glover is a terrific actor, but
the lead called for a real hard case with a chip on his shoulder, like Samuel L Jackson. I had a
hard time buying into Danny as a 1990's bad-ass, especially since the
costume department had him dressed in his baggy sharecropper clothing from
Beloved. Danny, with his sturdy body and his compassionate eyes, looked like he was
ready to plow the Back 40, share his meager supper with some hungry
strangers, then read some uplifting bedtime stories to his children.
2. The story ended with a lot of loose ends. What
happened to Maria Conchita Alonso? Why was she pregnant? (I thought
she was supposed to be a lesbian.) Was Bill Paxton the father of her
baby? Why did the alien spare her? What was the deal with the 1715
pirate gun which virtually appears out of nowhere at the end?
I assume that this was once a much longer movie,
but that some clarity was sacrificed in the editing process in the
interest of pacing.
Unfortunately, although the DVD is a 2-disk special edition, all of
those special features on the second disk offer no real illumination
of the confusing points. As it turns out, there are answers to all the
questions I asked, and some of those answers are actually quite interesting, but are
simply not in the
movie. I found out by Googling some obscure facts from the movie that
there are various comic books and paperback novels which feature the
Predator race. The authors of these works have fashioned quite a
complex mythology about the Predators and their long-term interaction
with humans and also with the race known to us as "Aliens"
through their own eponymous movie series. I
discovered that a lot of guys are really into this, just as I was once
into the mythology of Conan the Barbarian.
Here's a good summary of the written sources and the actual
mythology for both the Predator race and the Alien race. You may
already know that the Aliens and Predators faced off in in a 2004
movie, but perhaps you did not know that their contact was foreshadowed in
Predator 2, which was lensed way back in 1990. Preddy had a
trophy case, and it included a Giger-influenced skull which obviously
was meant to be one of the Aliens.
Anyway, I guess my point here is that too much of
this information was "off the page," making details of the film
completely confusing to those of us who haven't read all of these
additional books and comics.