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Now in our eleventh calendar year!
PCR #537 (Vol. 11, No. 28). This edition is for the week of July 5--11, 2010.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

theater seats

"Predators"  by Mike Smith
EYEBORGS  by ED Tucker
Way of the Dragon (1972)  by Jason Fetters
Honoring # 39 .... .... Happy 50th! .... Spy Vs Spy .... Movie Notes .... .... .... .... Mike's Record Shelf  by Mike Smith

20th Century Fox     
Starring: Adrien Brody, Topher Grace and Alice Braga
Directed by: Nimrod Antal
Rated: R
Running Time: 1 hour 46 mins

Here’s what I remember most about the previous “Predator” films: the first film was pretty well done and is probably the only major motion picture in history to co-star two actors who would go on to be Governor of their respective states (Jesse Ventura in Minnesota and Arnold Schwarzenegger in California). It almost boasted three state leaders when Sonny Landham ran for Governor of Kentucky, but he pulled out of the race due to lack of support (and, I’m guessing, the fact that he used to do porn). My biggest memory of “Predator 2” was the fact that the poster featured the title creature on top of New York City’s Chrysler Building while no such scene appeared in the film. It reminded me of the poster for 1976’s “King Kong” which showed the great ape straddling the two tallest buildings in the World Trade Center. Again, not in the film. But I digress.

Royce (Brody) has just dropped into an unknown jungle. I say dropped in because, just moments before, he was suddenly jarred awake by a rush of wind. Looking around he realizes he is free falling in mid air. Only a parachute opening seconds before impact saves his life. Moments later he is joined by others. The Mexican cartel killer (the always fun to watch Danny Trejo), the government killer (Braga), a Russian soldier right off the battle fields of Chechnya (Oleg Taktorav), a member of an African death squad (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali – I know, free movie T-shirt to whoever can pronounce that name three times fast), a convicted murderer (Walton Goggins), a member of the Japanese Yakuza (Louis Ozawa Changchien) and…a doctor (Grace)? Why are they here? And more importantly, where are they? And what is that funny clicking sound?

Much better than I expected, and a fine companion to the first film in the series, “Predators” tells the story of the hunter becoming the hunted. The best (for lack of a better word) killers on Earth have been placed on a planet that is little more than a giant game preserve, with Royce and company the prey. Unknown to each other and lacking trust (would YOU trust any of these people) the group soon realizes that, in order to survive, they must band together. Along the way they encounter Noland (Laurence Fishburne), previous game who has managed to evade the creatures. But as the dreadlocked baddies start thinning out the herd, it’s obvious that more than firepower can save them.

I may be the first person to ever use the words “Adrien Brody” and “action hero” in the same sentence but I do so for a reason. As much as I enjoyed him in Peter Jackson’s “King Kong,” he didn’t convince me he could really battle all of the different creatures he encountered on Skull Island. Here he commands the screen, and those around him, with a quiet strength he hasn’t really shown since he won the Oscar for “The Pianist.” The rest of the cast is also strong, though Fishburne seems to be channeling Clarence Williams III. However, on the plus side, Fishburne remarks that he is part of the US Army Air Cav and begins whistling Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries,” a slight nod, I’m thinking, to Fishburne’s appearance 30 plus years ago in “Apocalypse Now.” The make- up effects, by maestros Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger, are well done and not over the top. The direction is tight and the scares are genuine.

During the film Royce quotes Ernest Hemmingway, saying “There is no hunting like the hunting of man.” Hemmingway wrote this line to describe the experiences of war. And a war is what Royce and his comrades face here.

On a scale of zero to four stars I give “Predators”  

To comment on this or any other PCR article, please visit The Message Board. This week's movie review of "Predators" is ©2010 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2010, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2010 by Nolan B. Canova.