Rated R for pervasive language, gore and strong creature violence, 107 minutes
Solidly suspensful "Predators" a worthy follow-up
"Predators" is a chilling horror follow-up from noted filmmaker Robert Rodriguez to the original "Predator" film of the late '80s and early '90s. Bloody and simplistic, there are a handful of suspensful moments that raise it above the normal horror schlock that Hollywood churns out these days. While flawed - the story is sluggish and its climax lacks momentum, "Predators" should be given credit for not overly relying on gore as so many other films in this genre do.
Designed as both a sequel and a reboot, "Predators" should please those horror-film enthusiasts clamoring for the next big science-fiction horror flick. It's set in 2010, and begins as a group of hardened criminals are literally and mysteriously dropped in the middle of a jungle on a destitute planet. They quickly realize they've been dropped in a place where they're being hunted by a deadly, smart group of ugly creatures. The smart, street-wise Royce (Adrien Brody) quickly emerges as the leader of this unusual group that also includes Isabelle (Alice Braga), who may have some prior knowledge of the predator creatures, and the wimpy but secretive doctor Edwin (Topher Grace). They try to find a way to both outwit the creatures and find their way off the planet, which is very quickly becoming a death trap for anyone who lands there.
"Predators" is a genuinely frightening and worthy follow-up to the original "Predator" films from years ago. On one hand, it lacks the originality and the suspense of the original 1987 Schwarzenegger film, but it has enough chilling moments to stand on its own. In being titled "Predators" (which in this case has double meaning: for the nasty creatures and the nasty humans they hunt) wants to emulate another highly successful horror sequel - "Aliens" - and while it's no match for that film in providing some genuinely scary moments - like that film it should be given credit for relying on building suspense than outright gore. It's certainly violent, but peppered with enough blood to please those looking for that.
The best moments in "Predators" come in its initial chapters and from one particular fun scene involving some "mini" predator-dog-like creatures. It's ably grounded by a muscular Brody and a tough Braga ("Repo Men"), who make for a good team. Grace is charming but predictably bland in the Paul Reiser "Aliens" role, while the rest of the cast is too brief to make an impression. Particularly unfortunate is the very brief role from Laurence Fishburne, who is wasted as a survivor who has gone insane, in what is essentially a 10-minute cameo in the saggy middle of the film, which slows down the film considerably as it begins killing off characters.
The creatures and the special effects, a mixture of people in suits and CG, is detailed, suitably nasty and graphic. The extended climax is way too predictable, but does feature a tense, bloody fight between Brody, Braga and the creatures. Directed by Nimrod Antal ("Armored"), and produced by Rodriguez, "Predators" isn't perfect but is an above-average entry in the action-horror-film-sequel genre and is certainly worth a look.