Film Review: 'Predators' Almost Lives Up to Original

Predators” opens with a group of strangers dropped into a jungle not knowing how they got there, who sent them and where exactly they are. The audience doesn't know the answers to these questions either, but what we do know is that the characters will soon be confronted with “predators,” alien monsters who want to hunt down and kill them. However, what the audience may not be prepared for is many of the surprises and interesting plot turns that make this sequel worth a look.

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“Predators” serves as yet another sequel to the original that starred Arnold Schwarzenegger. This one -- the 4th in the series -- finds new characters in a new locations battling multiple predators -- unlike the original, which only featured only one.

To prepare for the sequel, I re-watched the 1987 original where a group of mercenaries are sent on a mission to rescue hostages in Central America. Led by Schwarzenegger, that team attacks a village that supposedly holds the hostages and only later discovers that the real threat is not the kidnappers but an alien that blends into the jungle and tracks its human prey using body heat. One by one, the predator attacks the team leading to a showdown with the hero.

What's enjoyable about the original is that it's more than just a simple monster movie where the monster attacks useless characters with no personality. This one slowly builds up the suspense before the first predator attack and by that time the audience has seen the human characters relate to and work with one another. There are numerous scenes of violence but the story is well-paced and shows real human reactions to the deaths of their comrades, as opposed to just focusing on all the action.

In the new sequel, the strangers dropped into the jungle face a group of predators bent of hunting and mutilating them. Many of the strangers do not know each other, but most of them have a background in the military. There is at least one prisoner in the mix but the odd one out is a young doctor named Edwin, played by Topher Grace (“That 70’s Show”). This group of strangers follows Royce, a mercenary played by Academy Award-winner Adrien Brody (“The Pianist”), as he searches for a way to get them to safety and away from the alien marauders.

Like the original “Predator,” this one focuses on the characters and the story before the predators start their attack. Unfortunately, unlike the original, the characters here are dull and uninteresting. However, Edwin stands as the most interesting and relatable throughout and is given a few funny lines to lighten things up.

One of the best elements are plot developments above and beyond watching the characters knocked off one by one. There are booby traps and many other intriguing and dangerous developments along with a few surprising twists that elevate the proceedings above the average monster movie.

The movie does have numerous flaws in it, though. Although I enjoyed many of the twists, there is one late surprise that's just not believable and nearly ruins the entire film. “Predators” does not live up to the original but there are enough surprises to make it worth hunting for.

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