This Stuff Will Make You a God Damned Sexual Tyrannosaurus.
In my mind, my review of the Alien series would not be complete if I didn’t first review Alien vs. Predator. Unlike even the worst Alien movies, AvP will probably give me a lot more to make fun of, being much lower in quality. But I couldn’t just jump right into that movie either, because there’s another name in that title that I haven’t reviewed yet. The first movie in this series is a classic sci-fi action movie but, as with many movies, I didn’t see it when it came out and I was a kid. Without the nostalgia making it seem better than it actually is, was this movie able to hold up in the present? We’ll find out in my review of Predator, written by Jim and John Thomas, directed by John McTiernan, and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kevin Peter Hall, Carl Weathers, Elpidia Carrillo, Sonny Landham, Jesse Ventura, Bill Duke, Richard Chaves, Shane Black, and R.G. Armstrong.
A group of mercenaries lead by Major Alan “Doesn’t my accent sound ‘Dutch’” Schaefer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is hired by his old military buddy, George Dillon (Carl Weathers), to rescue a captured presidential cabinet member from guerrilla forces in Val Verde. When they get there, they find a downed helicopter and the skinned bodies of an Army Special Forces unit. They take out a nearby rebel encampment, but soon start to realize that there’s something else in the jungle, hunting them with thermal vision, a laser gun, cloaking device, and dreadlocks.
This is a very cool sci-fi action flick. It borders on cheesy in more than one occasion, but overall it still holds up as entirely kick ass. One thing I got to thinking about is how much more interesting I probably would’ve found this movie on my first viewing, at least if I had no prior knowledge of what I was watching. If you think about it, not knowing anything about the movie you would be caught completely off guard by the fact that it starts off as a pretty typical army type of movie that strangely keeps cutting back to something that’s watching them in infrared. Not until almost the midway point do you actually find out that an alien is in the mix. I like the way the movie unfolds, and I like how it concludes. All of that Arnold stuff, caked in mud and fighting the alien with whatever he could assemble from the jungle. Yeah, I know the Mythbusters proved that the mud wouldn’t actually mask his heat signature, but I’m still perfectly comfortable suspending my disbelief to enjoy it. I laughed at the part where the black dude was unloading into the forest because he saw the Predator and the other guys on the team ran up and just started shooting at random, knowing nothing more than they were clearing out some foliage. I did take a pretty big issue with one big logic loophole in the movie. Arnold figures out pretty early on that the Predator wants a challenge, and even kicks the gun out of the girl’s hand because he won’t attack her if she’s unarmed and not a challenge. Why the hell didn’t everyone just throw their guns down? They would’ve all survived apparently! There were some parts to the dialogue that I could take issue with because of their corniness, but it’s an Arnold movie from the 80s! If I didn’t go in expecting some bad dialogue, then I was fooling myself. When Arnold stuck a guy to a pole with his knife and he said, “Stick around,” I couldn’t help but think he was getting started really early for his pun-tacular role as Mr. Freeze in Batman and Robin. I also laughed when one of the soldiers was going off because of Harper’s death, saying, “You don’t understand how bad this thing is. Whatever it is out there, it killed Harper!” because I thought to myself, “Yeah, and nothing’s killed Harper before!” On a more positive note, I had completely forgotten where the quote that almost everyone includes in their Arnold Schwarzenegger impressions – “Get to tha choppa!” – came from, and it’s this movie. I usually go with, “Get to the choppa, Danny!” which I believe is a mash up of this movie and Last Action Hero, but I’m okay with it.
The look of the movie is also pretty well done and mostly holds up. I respect a time when explosions were actually happening on the set. Also, the fake dead bodies were pretty well done. They made a couple of odd choices with the look though. Like right in the beginning, when Arnold and Carl Weathers shook hands and the camera focused a little too long on their rippling buffness. On the other hand, if you’re a gay guy, they probably focus on it just long enough for you to tug one out. And that’s not the only moment that a gay dude could spank to, so it’s got that goin’ for it. Also, the part where the Predator was performing surgery on his wound, it was less than convincing and seemed more like he was just poking his wound with random items.
The performances were … a bunch of muscle bound dudes and at least one who spoke English as a second language. What do you expect? Arnold was indeed an action star and he does nothing to tarnish that in this movie. As muscle bound as ever and he doesn’t try to act so there’s really not much to hold against him. I preferred Jesse Ventura’s character though, just because of the ridiculous things he’d say, like when he called everyone a bunch of slack-jawed faggots because they wouldn’t try the chewing tobacco that studies have shown will make one a goddamned sexual tyrannosaur. He also found himself far too strapped for time to have any left over to bleed, so that’s also a plus. They also had a comic relief guy that I didn’t find that annoying, even though every single one of his jokes was about how big his girlfriend’s vagina was.
Predator definitely holds up. It’s not the smartest movie ever, but it’s also not entirely dumb. The story leads you in one direction before dropping an alien on you to make it science fiction, the action is still great fun to watch, and you just can’t expect much from the performances, and you’d be right. But the movie is still great and still entirely watchable, even by today’s standards. Predator gets “So you cooked up a story and dropped the six of us into a meat grinder?” out of “I ain’t got time to bleed.”
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