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Josh Reviews The Predator

I’m an optimist, and someday I hope to see a new, truly great Star Trek movie in the theatres.  Someday, I hope to see a new, truly great Alien movie in the theatres.  And someday, I hope to see a new, truly great Predator movie in the theatres.

This sure as heck ain’t it.

The original Predator, from 1987, is a bad-ass, violent action movie with a sci-fi twist.  It was directed by John McTiernan, in the era in which Mr. McTiernan could do no wrong.  (He also directed Die Hard and The Hunt for Red October, two nearly perfect films that I adore.)  I love Predator — it’s got great characters, great action, and a great villain.  It holds up pretty well.  And it has spawned a heck of a lot of sequels, though sadly none of them have succeeded in being more then a relatively pale imitation of that first film.  1990’s Predator 2 is a truly bizarre sequel, transporting the series into the future (an at-the-time futuristic 1997 Los Angeles) and replacing the action-star Arnold Schwarzenegger with a very hyper Danny Glover as the lead.  At the time, it was a disappointment, and it’s hard to argue that the film is all that good, but relative to the films that followed, I now consider Predator 2 to be somewhat underrated!  In a film-fan in-joke, a sequence inside a Predator ship in Predator 2 showed an Alien skull, from the Alien franchise, on the Predator’s trophy wall.  That inspired a wonderful series of Aliens vs. Predator comic-books by Dark Horse Comics, which owned the comic-book rights to both franchises, and that in turn inspired two Alien vs. Predator films in 2004 and 2007, neither of which really lived up to the potential of the premise.  Then, in 2010, Robert Rodriguez produced another straight-up Predator sequel, called Predators (a fun nod to the Alien sequel, Aliens), that was directed by Nimród Antal.  I enjoyed the film’s efforts to do something new with the Predator franchise (such as setting the film on an alien planet as opposed to here on Earth), but in the end I didn’t find it particularly memorable.

And so now here we are with yet another attempt to relaunch the franchise with The Predator.  When I read that Shane Black was writing and directing this film, I was ecstatic.  Mr. Black is an incredible talent.  He wrote and directed Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and The Nice Guys, two films that I absolutely love.  (He also wrote and directed Iron Man Three, which was pretty great too!)  And he has a connection to Predator in that he appeared as an actor in the first … [continued]

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So is Peter Jackson going to direct The Hobbit? Or will it be his protege Neill Bolmkamp, who directed District 9? Who knows — I just hope this mess with MGM gets sorted out soon.  I’m still getting over my enormous disappointment that MGM’s financial situation resulted in Guillermo del Toro’s departure from The Hobbit films.  But boy would it be great to see PJ take the helm once again…

Great new trailer is up for The Social Network, the new film about facebook directed by David Fincher and scripted by Aaron Sorkin.

So, we finally got out first glimpse at The Green Hornet and… I’m still not quite sure what to think.  This film is either going to be awesome or a total catastrophe…

This is a cool poster.

CHUD’s list of the Worst CGI in Film History continues, and it’s well worth your time.

Will we ever get another decent X-Men film?  I loved X-Men and X2, but X3 was a crushing disappointment and the less spoken of the abominable X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the better.  I hate prequels, as a rule, so when word came out last year that the next X-film would be a prequel entitled X-Men: First Class, I thought that was a big mis-step.  So what now gives me hope?  Director Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake, Stardust, Kick Ass) and stars James McAvoy (Children of Dune, Atonement, Wanter) as Professor X and Michael Fassbender (Inglourious Basterds) as Magneto.  An ember of hope is fanned…

Are we about to finally get another decent Predator film?  The first Predator is awesome — one on my favorite movies ever.  But the second one (set in the future with Danny Glover as the lead) is weak, and the less spoken of the two Alien Vs. Predator films the better.  But Robert Rodriguez and Nimrod Antal’s Predators is set for release in just a few short weeks, and damn if this new trailer isn’t pretty awesome.  An ember of hope is fanned…

It’s hard for me to believe that a new Planet of the Apes film is really happening.  And now I read that John Lithgow and Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire) have joined the cast?  Um, okay… An ember of hope is… well… we’ll see…… [continued]

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News Around the Net!

I have an extensive series of posts, that will be running over the course of the next month, in which I write about my revisitation of Arthur C. Clarke’s four-novel Odyssey series which began in 1968 with 2001: A Space Odyssey — as well as the two film adaptations (of 2001 and 2010).  On Wednesday of this past week, literally moments after I had typed the final words of my review of Mr. Clark’s fourth and final Odyssey novel, 3001: The Final Odyssey, I read the sad news that Mr. Clarke had passed away at the age of 90.  What sad news.  This detailed obituary from the New York Times is worth a look.  Mr. Clarke was a giant in the world of science fiction, and he will be sorely missed by all of his fans world-wide, including this one.

Some big trailers have hit the web recently.  Check out this terrific new trailer for Iron Man 2, as well as this intriguing glimpse at the I-can’t-believe-this-actually-got-made sequel to Tron.  How great is Bruce Boxleitner in that trailer?  How about that glimpse of (newly-minted Oscar winner) Jeff Bridges?  Both films look fantastic, and I fervently hope they both can deliver.

Speaking of Jeff Bridges, I wanted to direct your attention to this great recent piece from aintitcoolnews.com, in which Jeff Dowd, the inspiration for “the Dude” in The Big Lebowski, waxes poetic about Mr. Bridges.

And speaking of films I hope will deliver, here’s a sneak peek at Robert Rodriguez and Nimrod Antal’s upcoming movie Predators.  Is it possible that we might finally be getting a truly kick-ass Predator film that can hold its own with the Arnold Schwarzenegger original?  I am beginning to hope…  (At the very least, they have settled on a phenomenal title, one that echoes James Cameron’s Aliens, the sequel to Ridley Scott’s film Alien.)

Finally, all of the fans of Lost out there need to be sure to check out my favorite article of the month: The Real Problem with Midichlorians.  I COULDN’T AGREE MORE WITH THIS ARTICLE.… [continued]

Browse Josh's Portfolio and the Comic, Reviews or Blog archive.

News Around the Net!

Big dumb summer movie trailer alert!  It’s the new trailer for Transformers 2, filled with lots of robot smashing action, and the new trailer for G.I. Joe, filled with Ninjas and, um, Eiffel Tower smashing action!  Sigh.  Hard to believe these two iconic and beloved cartoons of my youth are both now big-budget blockbuster movies coming out this summer.  Wouldn’t it be amazing if there were both really awesome?  Isn’t it sort of sad to know that they definitely won’t be?

For a peek at a movie that might actually be good, click here to check out District 9, the new sci-fi flick directed by Neill Blomkamp and executive produced by Peter Jackson (The Lord of The Rings).  Color me intrigued.

Keeping up with the trailers, here‘s a glimpse at the new film from Francis Ford Coppola, Tetro.  I never saw his last film, the critically-demolished Youth Without Youth, but this looks really interesting.  It’s a new film from Francis Ford Coppola!  Of course it looks interesting!

Did you know that Robert Rodriguez is working on a new Predator film??  If it happens, it’ll be called Predators (in a clever nod to James Cameron’s sequel to Alien, entitled Aliens).  Check out the tantalizing details here.  I need to see this movie RIGHT NOW.

So it’s been ten years since The Phantom Menace, huh?  Here’s an interesting look back.  I agree with this fellow’s thoughts about the two Phantom Menace trailers (among the finest trailers ever crafted), but I certainly don’t think anywhere nearly as highly of that dreadful turd of a movie as he does.  (You can read my memories of first seeing Episode I in theatres here, and my thoughts on the movie looking back almost a decade later here.)

Did you not have enough Star Trek content here on the site for the past two weeks?  Then check out this great piece from the Onion A.V. Club: “Space Racism is Bad and 17 Other Not-So-Subtle Lessons Learned From Star Trek.”  If you’ve never seen it before, you MUST scroll down to the clip of William Shatner’s Kirk reading the Preamble to U.S. Constitution in selection #12, from the absurd Trek episode The Omega Glory.  “WE… the… PEOPLE… not written for thekingsorthechiefsortherichorthepowerful but for ALLTHEPEOPLE!”  Classic Shatnerian magnificence. 

Since seeing J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek film, I’ve been enjoying reading all the different reactions on-line and in the press.  I always enjoy Alexandra DuPont’s film reviews when they appear (not often enough to suit me) on aintitcoolnews.com, and her take on the new film is well worth your time.  (I remember well … [continued]

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When Good Series Go Bad

I watched Alien Vs Predator: Requiem this weekend on DVD.   Sigh.   Has there ever been a franchise that started off as incredible, and then became so abysmal, as the Alien and Predator series?

(A certain series about a family named Skywalker does come to mind, although I consider the prequels to be apocryphal thus allowing the Original Trilogy to maintain its luster in my mind…)

The first Alien was a ground-breaking work.   H.R. Giger’s creature design was a marvel of originality – truly unlike anything that had ever been seen before.   The script was smart, the cast was terrific, and director Ridley Scott created a compelling, fully-realized world for his characters to inhabit.   The “look” of Alien is imitated almost as much as Ridley Scott’s 1982 film Blade Runner. The visual effects hold up and the film remains a white-knuckle suspense roller-coaster even today – a pretty stunning feat for a movie made in 1979.

The sequel, Aliens, was directed by another visionary – James Cameron. He wisely avoided creating a simple retread of the first movie.   Instead, he made a balls-to-the-wall action movie that is intense, exciting, and scary from the first scene to the last.   But what makes the action work is the great screenplay and attention to character development.   Cameron, aided by a terrific ensemble of actors (Sigourney Weaver, Paul Reiser, Michael Biehn, Lance Henriksen, and a star-making performance from Bill Paxton – “maybe you haven’t been keeping up on current events but we just got our asses kicked, man!”) created a group of distinct, interesting characters that are enormous fun to watch.   These characters aren’t stereotypes – they all (at least, the ones who survive – and even many of the ones who don’t) grow and change as the film moves forward.   The relationship between Ripley and the little girl Newt is the heart of the movie.   When bad things start to happen (and they do), this makes all the action that much more gripping.   And the action and (pre-CGI) visual effects are spectacular.

Then there’s Predator. Gone With The Wind this ain’t, but it is a staggeringly entertaining action film.   As with Alien and Aliens, part of the magic of this film is the way the combination of script, director, and actors creates a group of characters that are extraordinarily watchable.   That’s the key to a good they’re-gonna-die-one-by-one sort of movie – the viewer really needs to invest in the ensemble of characters.   And what an ensemble we have here:   Arnold Schwarzenegger at his ripped-bicep monosyllabic best; Carl Weathers at HIS ripped-bicep monosyllabic best; Bill Duke and his intense eyes; and Jesse “The Body” Ventura chewing his cigar and all the scenery.   Fine actors they … [continued]