Mascott’s Movie Rewind – Predator

Originally posted July 8th, 2010

The Kidd here, and I know Mascott has already been assigned some classic Schwarzenegger. However, with the pending theatrical release of PREDATORS, I think it’s impossible to know where you’re going, if you have no idea where you’ve been… or something like that. Therefore, before Robert Rodriguez and director Nimrod Antal take you into the jungle, it’s time to get to the choppa with Ahnuld, Carl Weathers, Jesse “The Body” Ventura, Bill Duke, and others. After all, if it bleeds, you can kill it… sort of like this week’s installment of Mascott’s Movie Rewind. Take it away, you ugly mutha…

predator

PREDATOR
1987
DIRECTED BY JOHN McTIERNAN

I’m going to go right ahead and open this Rewind by saying that i’m writing it around my 45th straight waking hour. BUT IT’S OKAY. I’M GOOD. I’ve had like three “person batteries” (re: Red Bulls) and I’m totally cool to write this one. I CAN DO THIS. Just give me the keys.

Very shortly, the Robert Rodriguez (no, it didn’t take me four tries to spell that, thanks) spearheaded reboot of the PREDATOR franchise will open in theatres, and (God willing) little flying chunks of Topher Grace will adorn each of those screens. Since 1990 with the release of PREDATOR 2, the Predator franchise has only lived on by joining forces with other, arguably more popular franchises like Alien. How does it hold up on its own, though? This week I watched the original PREDATOR to find out just that.

The movie starts off with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s elite military squad of badasses landing in Guatemala to find and extract a crashed helicopter team. Carl Weathers, a CIA agent with muscles indicative of an incredibly heavy pencil and an old pal of Arnold’s, is to be joining them on this mission. They arrive at the crashed copter to find that the crew has been skinned and their insides removed. After storming into a rebel camp and seriously fucking their shit up, it becomes evident that the rebels did not skin and disembowel the crew of the helicopter (their first hint being the 7-foot-tall, semi-invisible alien with 14-inch retractable blades running around. Admittedly, they pick it up pretty quick). This guy is the Predator – an extraterrestrial hunter who finds sport in killing the Earth’s greatest warriors. Members of Arnold’s team are eviscerated one by one, and they find themselves at the mercy of a much more ferocious version of E.T.

The most important question in my mind is “Why did Minnesota elect the guy who dies second as their governor?” The logical explanation is that they saw the first twenty minutes and got so excited about Jesse Ventura that they needed him as a Governor RIGHT NOW, but if you’re going to elect government officials based on how awesome they were in movies, at least wait to see the end of the movie, like California did.

The Predator creature effects were done by Stan Winston, arguably the master of prosthetics and makeup in cinema, and they’re great. The Predator conveys emotion about as well as fifteen pounds of prosthetics alien head can (even if the emotions are limited to “Calculating,” “WAAARG,” and “Fuck you,” in that order) and seems to me almost like the earliest ancestor of the design of the DISTRICT 9 Prawns (which is to say, not literal evolutionary ancestors, but, “Neill Blomkamp watched PREDATOR once.”)

On the other hand, the computer-generated special effects are not as good as the Predator creature effects.  I don’t want to say that they’re bad, necessarily. The effects in this movie would have been great in 1987, but they haven’t aged well, solely thanks to the efforts of the SciFi Channel, or SyFy or Syphilis or whatever they’re calling themselves these days. See, when I watched SciFi Channel every Saturday night at my grandparents’ house, there would be the premiere of some movie they had produced themselves. It was always like PIRANHASAURUS OCTOPUS 4 or ULTRA SHARK VS OMEGA SHARK or something like that, and they were just awful movies. They had terrible stories, terrible production values and god awful special effects for a movie made in the early years of the 21st century. But the thing is, the effects they were using on BANSHEE 3-D in 2001 were at about the same level as PREDATOR back in 1987. It gave me the most awful flashbacks to MEGAKOALA 2.

…..Those eucalyptus people never stood a chance….

PREDATOR is like 1980s GI JOE for big boys. Guys who love action movies can love this movie. That said, there is little in this movie for women beyond men bristling with muscles. Chicks that like action movies might like it, but any women that just tolerates your action junkie habits won’t have any desire to sit through PREDATOR.

But does the franchise have legs on its own? Based on just seeing this one movie and assuming that the franchise would be built in a very similar fashion, I’m going to have to say, “No, I don’t think so.” This isn’t the kind of thing people get up and go out to the theatres for anymore, and adding any more to it  like a real story would only be a disservice to the real star of the movie, the action. And Action demands every moment of screen time that the movie can provide him when it comes to PREDATOR. Today, people like to see Action hang out with other fun genres, like Drama, or working with French directors. Action knows that PREDATOR was his movie, and he would never give it up, regardless of what the audience wants, and the original is better for it. Of course, I haven’t actually seen PREDATORS yet, so, who knows? It’s incredibly rare that I will actually wish failure upon a film or a director (Uwe Boll is the rare one). I would like to see more like this, but I just don’t think it’s going to have the same feel as PREDATOR.

As for the issue of the ALIENS VS PREDATOR franchise, I’ll go right ahead and say that I’ve never seen the movies, and that is a fact i’m proud of. As far as i’m concerned, I’m kind of a movie snob – you may have noticed – and I don’t want to watch AVP. However, I’ve done the important work on the franchise, and through my own research, I’ve come to the conclusion that anything awesome plus an ‘A’ or a ‘P’ automatically becomes ‘fucking awesome‘ (our top scientists are pretty sure it’s because of all the Batman).

Favorite Part – [after Dutch has nailed a guy to the wall with his knife] Dutch: Stick around.

Best Actor – Usually I give this one out to someone in the flick who takes on a particularly tough role, or made me really notice them and go “Wow, that person is an actor.” This is not a movie that has, well, really any of that. If anyone in this movie asked the director for some direction, he’d probably just say, “Look muscular. Great.”

Most Thankful For… – The way the movie treats knowledge. It COULD tell you a bunch of cool stuff about the Predator, like a monster movie might today, just to build a fiction, but it never lets you know any more then your hero does.

What Date You Should Watch This On – Don’t. Just don’t. If you watch it, you’ll understand. This is about the farthest thing from a date movie. It’d be more appropriate to sit down and watch porn together on a first date. That might even get you somewhere with a certain type of lady. But even that lady doesn’t want to watch PREDATOR with you.

After Watching This Movie, I…  – Felt kind of lazy after watching Arnold rip down a tree and did, like, five whole push ups.

While I was Writing This Article I… – Was driving around South Jersey at 10 p.m. looking for a WiFi Access Point. About 30% of this was written on my home laptop before my router decided to take a giant steaming dump. Another 50% was written from an iPad in a Best Buy, and the remaining 20% was written as I sat outside of a closed Borders at 11 p.m. wearing shorts and a t-shirt, huddling ever closer to the wall to get nearer to the signal inside.

Recommend Watching? – If you know you can sit through an action flick somewhere on the mindless scale between DIE HARD 2 and DIE HARD 4, and you want something in the background while you pump iron, juggle free weights and eat bolts with a spoon, PREDATOR is a great choice, you manly man, you.

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