REVIEW: PREDATORS

CAST
Adrien Brody (Hollywoodland)
Laurence Fishburne (Hannibal)
Topher Grace (Spider-Man 3)
Alice Braga (I Am Legend)
Walton Goggins (Django Unchained)
Oleg Taktarov (National Treasure)
Danny Trejo (Eyeborgs)
Mahershala Ali (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay)
Royce (Adrien Brody) awakens to find himself parachuting into an unfamiliar jungle. He meets several others who arrived in the same manner: Mexican drug cartel enforcer Cuchillo (Danny Trejo), Spetsnaz soldier Nikolai (Oleg Taktarov), Israel Defense Forces sniper Isabelle (Alice Braga), Revolutionary United Front officer Mombasa (Mahershala Ali), death row inmate Stans (Walton Goggins), Yakuza enforcer Hanzo (Louis Ozawa Changchien), and a general practice doctor Edwin (Topher Grace).
Upon landing, they discover that all are armed and lethal killers, with the apparent exception of Edwin, though none know where they are or how they got there. The group follows Royce, who Isabelle suspects is a former black operations soldier turned mercenary. In the jungle they find empty cages, plants with a neurotoxic poison that Edwin collects on a scalpel, and a deceased US Special Forces soldier. Arriving at higher ground, they find themselves staring at an alien sky and realize that they are not on Earth.
The party is attacked by a pack of quadruped alien beasts, and Cuchillo is killed. His body is then used as bait to lure the survivors into a trap, but they avoid it. Royce guesses they are on a planet used as a game preserve, where humans are hunted as game. The group follows the quadrupeds’ tracks to a camp and find a captive Predator. The “hunters”, three larger Predators attack the group. Mombasa is killed and the rest of the group escapes. Isabelle reveals that she has heard of the Predators before, from a report by the only survivor (Major Alan “Dutch” Schaefer) a Special Forces team who encountered one in Guatemala in 1987.
The group next meets Noland (Laurence Fishburne), a lone soldier who has survived on the planet for “10 seasons” by hiding and scavenging from the Predators and their victims. At his hideout, he explains that the Predators sharpen their killing skills by collecting warriors and dangerous beasts from other worlds and bringing them to the planet to hunt. Noland also reveals that there is a blood feud between the larger Predators and the smaller ones. Royce hopes that if the group can free the smaller Predator being held prisoner in the encampment, it may take them home using the other Predators’ spaceship. When the group fall asleep, Noland traps them in a room and attempts to use smoke to suffocate them. Having gone mad, he plans to kill them for food. Royce uses an explosive to break out of the room, attracting the Predators to the hideout. Noland tries to escape, but a Predator kills him. In the ensuing chase, Nikolai uses a claymore mine to kill a Predator, sacrificing himself. Stans savagely attacks another Predator with his shiv, buying time for the others to escape, and is killed. Hanzo duels the third Predator with a katana, killing it at the cost of his own life.
As Royce, Isabelle and Edwin head for the Predators’ camp, Edwin is injured by a trap. When Isabelle refuses to abandon him, Royce leaves them both behind and they are caught by the remaining hunter. Royce frees the smaller Predator and heads for the ship as the two Predators confront each other. The larger Predator kills the smaller one and destroys the ship as it takes off. Meanwhile, Edwin paralyzes Isabelle with the neurotoxic poison on his scalpel and reveals that on Earth he was a murderer, and feels that he fits in on this planet among the monsters. Royce appears, never having boarded the ship, and stabs Edwin with his own scalpel, paralyzing him.
Royce booby-traps Edwin with grenades, using him as bait to injure the Predator. While Isabelle covers him with her sniper rifle, he proceeds to fight the Predator with an axe and eventually decapitates it. As Royce and Isabelle rest, they see parachutes opening at a distance. Royce, surmising that more Predators will soon arrive to hunt the new prey, tells Isabelle they must find another way to get off the planet, and they make their way towards the new hunting ground.
This film does exactly what you would want from a predator film. It takes a little while to get going but once it does it goes at a very entertaining pace. It’s a 15 rating so its not as blood thirsty as the first 2 predator films but there is plenty of action and enough blood to keep everyone happy.
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REVIEW: PREDATOR 2

CAST
Danny Glover (Earthsea)
Gary Busey (Point Break)
Kevin Peter Hall (Harry and The Hendersons)
Ruben Blades (Safe House)
Maria Conchita Alonso (The Running Man)
Bill Paxton (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Robert Davi (The Goonies)
Adfam Baldwin (Chuck)
Kent McCord (Adam-12)
Elpidia Carrillo (Seven Pounds)
In 1997, Los Angeles is suffering from both a heat wave and a turf war between heavily armed Colombian and Jamaican drug cartels. A Predator watches a shootout between the police and Colombians, observing as Lieutenant Michael R. Harrigan charges into the firefight to rescue two wounded officers and drive the Colombians back into their hideout.
While the police wait for a federal task force, the Predator crashes through a skylight and assaults the Colombians. Against orders, Harrigan and his police detectives Leona Cantrell and Danny Archuleta enter the hideout. They find the Colombians have been slaughtered. Harrigan pursues the crazed gang leader onto the roof and shoots him. He catches a glimpse of the camouflaged Predator, but dismisses it as an effect of the heat and his Acrophobia. At the station, Harrigan is reprimanded by his superiors for his disobedience. He is then introduced to Special Agent Peter Keyes, leader of the task force investigating the cartels, and Detective Jerry Lambert, the newest member of Harrigan’s team.
Later that evening, several Jamaican cartel members enter the Colombian drug lord’s penthouse. After they ritualistically murder him, the Predator kills them all. Harrigan’s team enter the penthouse where they find the Jamaicans’ skinned corpses suspended from the rafters, noting the similarity to the earlier Colombian massacre. Keyes arrives and kicks Harrigan’s team out. Archuleta later returns to continue investigating. He finds one of the Predator’s speartip weapons in an air conditioning vent, but is then killed by the Predator. Harrigan vows to bring down Danny’s killer, believing they are dealing with an assassin. Forensic scientist Dr. Irene Edwards finds the speartip does not correspond to any known element on the periodic table. Seeking answers, Harrigan meets with Jamaican drug-lord King Willie, a voodoo practitioner, in an alley. King Willie tells Harrigan that the killer is supernatural, and that he should prepare himself for battle against him. Harrigan, even more puzzled, leaves the alley, and the Predator kills King Willie, whose head is made into a trophy; from thereon the creature begins to trail Harrigan.
Harrigan and his team hear about King Willie’s death. Dr. Edwards tells them that she found some blood that came from the slaughter house where Keyes was last seen. Harrigan tells his team to meet him at the slaughter house to investigate. Cantrell and Lambert take the subway to rendezvous with Harrigan, but get involved in a mugging on the subway until the Predator attacks them and the other armed passengers. Cantrell herds the passengers to safety while Lambert faces off against the Predator and is killed. The Predator prepares to kill Cantrell, but releases her after a quick visual scan of her body reveals that she is pregnant. Arriving on the scene, Harrigan chases the Predator but is stopped by Keyes’ men. Keyes reveals that the killer is an extraterrestrial hunter with infrared vision that uses active camouflage and has been hunting humans for sport throughout armed conflicts, the recent one referring to previous events in Central America. Keyes and his team have set a trap in a nearby slaughterhouse, using thermally insulated suits and cryogenic weapons in an attempt to capture him for study.
When the Predator arrives, the trap is sprung. However, the Predator uses his mask to scan through various electromagnetic wavelengths, locates and slaughters the team. Keyes is wounded, but Harrigan attacks the Predator, wounds him and removes his mask. The Predator kills Keyes with a throwing disc and chases Harrigan to a roof. Harrigan knocks him over the side and finds himself on a narrow ledge with the Predator hanging below. The Predator activates the self-destruct device on his forearm. Harrigan grabs the throwing disc and severs the forearm, rendering the device harmless. The Predator falls through an apartment window, treats his wounds and flees through the building.
Harrigan follows him down an elevator shaft and finds a spacecraft in an underground chamber. Inside the ship, the two face off in a final duel, and Harrigan finally kills the Predator with the throwing disc. Several other Predators appear, collecting their dead comrade, and one of them presents Harrigan with an antique flintlock pistol as a trophy. Harrigan escapes from the ship as it takes off and reaches the surface just as the remainder of Keyes’ team arrives. Harrigan knows that the creatures will return and continue to hunt on Earth as they have done for centuries.
This movie has more Predator. It also greatly expanded the Predator universe and franchise. It introduced a whole new bunch of Pred weapons, tactics and behavior which never ever seemed out of place and were perfect fits. It explored their race further. The urban  setting contrasts against the previous jungle setting and is a major plus for this movie. This movie was also extremely realistic and gory. All in all, this movie is fantastic.

REVIEW: PREDATOR

CAST
Arnold Schwarzenegger (Commando)
Carl Weathers (Rocky)
Kevin Peter Hall (Harry and The Hendersons)
Elpidia Carrillo (Seven Pounds)
Bill Duke (Fastlane)
Jesse Ventura (The Running Man)
Sonny Landham (48 Hrs.)
Richard Chaves (Witness)
R.G. Armstrong (Children of The Corn)
Shane Black (Robocop 3)
Major Alan “Dutch” Schaefer and his six-man team, consisting of himself, operators Mac Eliot, Billy Sole, and Blain Cooper, demolitions and explosives expert Jorge “Poncho” Ramírez and radioman Rick Hawkins, are tasked by the CIA with spearheading the rescue of an official held hostage by insurgents in Val Verde. CIA Agent George Dillon, a former commando and an old friend of Dutch’s, is assigned to accompany and supervise the team despite Dutch’s reservations. The team is taken to a remote jungle and begins the mission.
They soon discover the wreckage of another chopper and three skinned corpses, whom Dutch identifies as U.S. Army Special Forces he once trained. Pressing on, the team reaches the insurgent camp and kills every single guerilla, including a Soviet intelligence officer searching through top-secret CIA documents. Dillon, confronted by a suspicious Dutch, admits the mission was a setup to retrieve intelligence from captured operatives and that the dead unit disappeared weeks earlier in a failed rescue. Upon capturing a female guerilla named Anna, the group proceeds to extraction, unaware that they are being stalked by a nearly invisible creature using thermal imaging.
Hawkins chases a fleeing Anna when they are both suddenly confronted by the creature. The unarmed Anna is spared, but Hawkins is swiftly killed and dragged away. Dutch organizes a manhunt for his body, during which Cooper is killed by the creature’s plasma weapon, enraging Mac. An ensuing firefight fails to draw out the creature, so the unit regroups and questions Anna, learning that their stalker is an unknown creature locals call “El cazador trofeo de los hombres”, meaning “The hunter who makes trophies of men.” The next day, an attempt to entrap the creature fails, leaving Poncho badly injured. Mac and Dillon pursue the alien, but it outwits and kills them both.
The survivors try to escape, but the creature catches up, killing Billy and Poncho, and wounding Dutch. Realizing the creature only targets armed and hostile prey, Dutch sends Anna to the chopper alone and unarmed. While being pursued by the alien, Dutch slides down a hill into a river, goes over a waterfall and ends up crawling through a patch of mud, only for the creature to catch up to him; its cloaking device malfunctions in the water, allowing Dutch to finally see his hidden enemy. The alien, though standing a few feet from Dutch, does not see him and moves on. This helps him realize that the mud he is now covered in is acting as camouflage by cooling his skin and blocking his body’s heat signature from the alien’s thermal sensor. Now seeking to avenge his men, Dutch uses his knowledge of jungle warfare to craft a series of traps. Covered in mud and armed with improvised weapons, he lures the creature in with a war cry.
Utilizing his preparations, Dutch beats the alien at its own game, disabling its cloaking device and inflicting minor injuries. However, the creature rallies itself and finally corners him. Acknowledging Dutch as a worthy foe, the alien discards its mask and plasma weapon, and challenges him to a hand-to-hand fight, where it easily has the upper hand. After being brutally beaten, Dutch narrowly defeats the creature by using a counterweight to crush it. Standing over the crippled alien, he demands to know what it is, but the creature just mimics his question in garbled English before activating a self-destruct device on its wrist, laughing sinisterly as the count down begins. Dutch flees and takes cover just before the self-destruct device explodes in a mushroom cloud. Dutch, the last man standing, is picked up shortly afterwards by his commander, General Phillips, and finds Anna in the helicopter.
The effects are great, the acting is good and the story is cool too. This is a sci-fi action movie that isn’t just full of cheap explosions. It really does have great atmosphere. Everyone who likes sci-fi and/or action movies should like this.

REVIEW: ALIENS VS PREDATOR 1 & 2

 

CAST

Sanaa Lathan (Blade)
Raoul Bova (The Tourist)
Lance Henriksen (Hellraiser 8)
Ewen Bremner (The Mummy)
Colin Salmon (Arrow)
Tommy Flanagan (Gotham)
Joseph Rye (BAtman Begins)
Agathe de La Boulaye (The Girl)
Carsten Norgaard (The Man In The High Castle)
Sam Troughton (Vera Drake)

Aliens Vs. Predator should have been one of those movies that had fanboys and fangirls swinging from the rafters with glee. Teaming up this pair of Fox’s finest franchise characters almost seemed like a no-brainer, especially after it was hinted at in Predator 2 and after Dark Horse Comics proved that there were plenty of cool stories to be told by combining the continuity and history of the two storylines.

Unfortunately, Fox punked out and released a watered down PG-13 film to theaters in hopes of cashing in on the fan base that was developed over the four Alien films and the two Predator films – all of which were R-rated movies. You don’t need violence and gore to make a good movie, we all know this, but if you’re not going to deliver on that front  you should at least deliver an interesting and/or suspenseful story. Sadly, we don’t get either. That’s not to say the movie is awful, it’s just very mediocre and it left a lot of people wanting a lot more from the film than what it delivered.

The movie takes place in the present day and it revolves around a man named Charles Bishop Weyland, the head honcho behind Weyland Industries, a world leader in the field of robotics (anyone familiar with the continuity of the Alien series will easily make the connection between Henriksen’s character here and the part he played in Aliens and Alien 3). Weyland and his team have just discovered an ancient temple located deep beneath the ice of the frozen tundra in Antarctica, and they mean to dig down there and check out what it has to offer.

In order to make this happen, Weyland assembles ‘the best of the best’ for his expedition. First and foremost he recruits the reluctant Alexa Woods (Sanaa Lathan) to act as their guide, but he also brings in a Scottish chemist named Graeme (Ewan Bremmer), an archeologist named de Rosa (Raoul Bova), and a few other handy sorts, namely Adele Russeau (Agathe de la Boulaye), Thomas Parks (Sam Troughton), and his personal ‘go to guy’ Maxwell Stafford (Colin Salmon). Together they head out into the cold and start digging, setting up their above ground base in the remains of an old whaling station.

Once the crew starts working, it quickly becomes apparent that this isn’t a normal archeological expedition. It doesn’t take long before a few of the more disposable members of the team start getting wasted and it turns out that are here for their ceremonial right of passage. Every one hundred years they thaw out an alien queen and get her egg sack pumping out as many of the nasty little buggers as she can so that they can send in their hunters so that they may prove their worth in an actual hunt. Weyland and his team have just happened to arrive on the day of this event, and it’s going to take all they’ve got to make it out alive because, as the tagline goes, whoever wins, they lose.

The best part about this movie, aside from the ever-cool Lance Henriksen, are the visuals. The pyramid/temple that was created as the main set is an interesting place to put the characters and the setup for the action that occurs is a pretty good one. The biggest flaw in the film is that the script just piles in way too many characters for its own good and as such, it’s hard for us to care about anyone in the movie. There’s plenty of style, but very little substance and as such the movie plays out with about as much heart and soul as a run of the mill slasher film. While the CGI scenes stand out a little bit and are a bit soulless, the animatronic effects and the make up effects that aren’t done on a computer are pretty solid and look quite good in the movie.

There are some moments in the film that stand out – the face hugger and alien incubation/birth scenes are still creepy and wholly unnatural, and some of the fights between the various creatures that inhabit the temple are nifty. There’s lots of footage of various characters tooling around in the dark corridors of the building trying to find a way out only to be chased down and made mince meat out of and while these aren’t all that original, they’re reasonably tense at times. Again though, when you don’t care about the people being chased, the catch just isn’t as sweet. The scene where the alien queen first appears is also quite dramatic and more than a little eerie.

 

CAST

Steven Pasquale (Rescue me)
Reiko Aylesworth (Lost)
John Ortiz (Fast & Furious)
Johnny Lewis (Felon)
Ariel Gade (Envy)
Kristen Hager(Wanted)
Sam Trammell (True Blood)
David Paetkau (Flashpoint)
Robert Joy (The Hills Have Eyes)
Chelah Horsdal (When Calls The Heart)
Gina Holden (Flash Gordon)
Tom MCbeath (Bates Motel)
Ty Olsson (Izombie)
Rekha Sharma (Dark Angel)
Rainbow Francks (Stargate ATlantis)
Ryan Robbins (Arrow)
Francoise Yip (Smallville)

AVP-R is fast, bloody and cruel. In this unrated version (101 minutes) the gore quotient is pretty high – worlds better than the first AVP – and to its credit works to give us characters with stories and not just characteristics. Best among these stories are those of an errant ex-con and his at risk younger brother, and it’s a nice concession to those of us moviegoers not weaned on videogames. But clearly, we’re not looking to AVP-R for character development, are we? We’re looking for action, acidic blood, and plenty of tension-filled, scary, luscious looking set pieces. Those we get, in spades.

Problem is (and this is a universal complaint) most of this bloody action is impossible to see. Ebony skinned Aliens and Predators running around in unlit spaceships, woods, sewers and such makes for difficult viewing. Adding insult to injury, an Alien-kill spews acidic blood all over a power station, and soon all the lights in the entire town go out, and then it starts raining. What we’re left with are a handful of rain soaked glinting surfaces on a cloudy, moonless night. If that’s not bad enough, most all of this violent action is filmed in jittery medium-to-tight close-ups, with lightning fast editing. So now what we get are unlit, unidentifiable details of unrecognizable anatomy and architecture zipping by unfocused in a fraction of a second. It’s so over-the-top impossible to see it’s almost like an artistic challenge.

So we must, if we can, focus on the positive. Even if we can’t see it, the brutal alien carnage is plentiful and cruel. Children are put in peril and slaughtered at whim. Pregnant women are subjected to the vilest of treatments, and chest bursters are born in litters. Oh yes, there’s also the hybrid ‘PredAlien’ and a fistfight in the deep end of the swimming pool. Someone is bucking for genre greatness, but not quite making it.

Living in the shadow of Alien must be tough, and James Cameron is the only director who’s had any success of it (not that Alien3 and Alien Resurrection aren’t good …) because Cameron simply made a solid Cameron movie with Ripley and the Aliens. Pretty much everyone else just tries to ‘put their stamp’ on the creation of Ridley Scott et al. That creation was just seven simple yet utterly realistic characters in peril. Each successive film has suffered bloat and pretension to one degree or the other, and AVP-R is no exception. As the opening sprawl of AVP-R is whittled down by outer space chaos, the movie begins to return to – if not the form of Scott’s masterpiece – at least something more akin to Cameron’s ordnance assault (in fact the movie cops liberally from both films, as well as Alien3). It’s pretty exciting, brainless fun.