Sunday, June 03, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Predator (1987) ***

R, 107 min.
Director: John McTiernan
Writers: Jim Thomas, John Thomas
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Elpidia Carrillo, Bill Duke, Jesse Ventura, Sonny Landham, Richard Chaves, Shane Black, R.G. Armstrong, Kevin Peter Hall

I’m of two minds on the whole “Predator” phenomenon. I don’t think it’s a good movie. I don’t think it’s well made. I’m not sure that John McTiernan only had one good movie in him. That would’ve been “Die Hard”. Well, he put out a few other worthwhile outings, but in terms of artistry, “Predator” is at the bottom of his canon. It’s down there with “Medicine Man” and “Rollerball”. Yet, somehow it’s actually kind of fun and infinitely more entertaining than those two losers.

If James Cameron raised the bar for this genre of sci-fi action with “Aliens” in 1986, McTiernan made sure that bar was lowered back down to the status quo in 1987 with “Predator”. It was only fair to the less talented directors in Hollywood. He reinstated all the standards. Gather a group of muscle-bound men who communicate through grunts and bad puns, females are attractive and inconsequential. Look for any excuse you can to have them remove their shirts and grease them up with sweat. The hot jungle setting of “Predator” worked well for that. This movie is made for heterosexual males? Correct?

Anyway, one of the clever ideas of the script by Jim Thomas and John Thomas was the misdirection of the plot. Instead of gathering a bunch of commandos to fight an alien threat, these guys are brought together for another reason entirely and they just happen to become the prey of the alien hunter. That gives these guys something to do other than flex their muscles. They have to actually figure out what’s going on first.  

While I can’t really bring myself to say that “Predator” is actually a good movie. I won’t ride my high horse and say it isn’t fun to watch. As long as you can stomach the gore and the one-liners, you’re not going to get bored watching Arnold in classic form.

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