Saturday, September 05, 2009

“If the Colombians did all this, then why'd they leave their boss Ramon over there hanging ten and his girlfriend naked on the floor?”

The first Predator did well enough to warrant a sequel, and under a new director, new cast, and new setting, Predator 2 arrived in 1990 to butcher, gut & take the heads of audiences. Set in the grim future of 1997 and moving the story to LA during a gang war & heat wave, does the movie bring enough new stuff to the franchise to keep it fresh and interesting?

Los Angeles. Heat wave. Gang war. Against this backdrop, we have a tough cowboy cop who doesn’t want to wait around for stuff like “permission” to go in and bust the bad guys. He’s got a like-minded team of officers with him, including a new guy who never shuts up. However, something arrives in town and starts following our Hero, killing various criminals and playing a deadly game of cat and mouse. Also, a government agent obfuscates things by hunting the creature for his own reasons.

Lieutenant Mike Harrigan: Danny Glover in the Hero’s position. He’s a foul-mouthed cop who’s on the edge of getting suspended for his reckless behavior. Still, he’s a good cop, one of the best on the force. As soon as he suspects that there’s a fourth party (the Predator) involved in the gang war, he starts trying to investigate. He’s also got a fear of ledges/high places that comes back every now and then. He’s likable and Glover seems to have fun with the role, he’s just not as primally badass as Arnold, though.

Danny Archuleta: Ruben Blades is Harrigan’s best friend on the force, the more level headed of the duo. He’s the first major character offed by the Predator, which is pretty much what makes things personal for Harrigan.

Maria Conchita Alonso: Leona Cantrell is the third member of Harrigan’s team, a tough, ball-busting tom boy.

Jerry Lambert: Bill Paxton is the Rookie, another cowboy cop who asked to get transferred to central so he could get some glory. Loudmouthed, fast talking, lecherous, he starts off kind of annoying before getting kind of likable.

Tony Pope: Morton Downey, Jr. is an obnoxious, muck raking television host who’s trying to get the scoop on these killings. He’s fun in an over-the-top hammy way, and gets a hilarious comeuppance when Harrigan decks him.

Peter Keys: Gary Busey is the smartass, gung-ho FBI agent who’s trying to track and catch the Predator. Obviously it doesn’t go very well for him, but he & Harrigan butt heads a lot.

King Willie: Calvin Lockhart is the Jamaican drug lord of LA, and a Voodoo priest. Yeah, its over the top.

Garber: Firefly’s Adam Baldwin is Keys’ right hand man. Doesn’t do a whole lot, just wanted to point out that Jayne is in this film

The Predator: Kevin Peter Hall returned as the alien hunter, but plays a completely different character. This Predator, while still lurking in the shadows with his active camouflage, is also, dare I say, more likable. He’s curious about human culture, recording a lot more dialog from characters and repeating it back (hell, he makes saying “want some candy” brutally creepy), and he also plays more mind games with his target as well as having more toys to play with. The Predator is the badass of the movie, without question. Sadly, Hall, who was also Harry from Harry and the Hendersons, died in 1991 of AIDS from a blood transfusion, which sucks.

The director this time was Stephen Hopkins (who did Nightmare on Elm Street 5), and while it wasn’t quite as atmospheric as McTiernan’s version, its still pretty good. There are a lot more characters in the film, but fewer main ones. The end result being a slightly lesser level of pacing, but it still moves fairly quickly from action scene to action scene. Fight scenes are generally rather good, with the Predator getting more opportunities to shine. However, the fight on the subway train just didn’t work for me. I can see what they were going for with the lights turned off and chaos ensuing, but it was too blurred and dark to see what was going on.

Stan Winston’s team once more delivered on the visual effects for the Predator, coming up with a new look and new gear. The face under the mask was more advanced this time (and earning a new nickname from Harrigan: Pussyface). Then the movie gets to the interior of a Predator ship, that’s a field trip.

Jim & John Thomas once again wrote the script, and the dialog continues to move quickly (and profanely) along. The writing’s ok, continuing the blend of action, sci-fi and horror, with a dash of superheroics thrown in with the Predator bounding around and murdering criminals like some kind of skull-taking Batman.

Alan Silvestri returns for another action packed, percussive score. It doesn’t quite have the same fire as the first one though.

Predator 2 does not suck. The first one was awesome and the second, while not as good and containing a few meh moments, still delivers on the whole “alien comes to Earth to hunt worthy prey” with lots of action and blood and explosions and weird SCIENCE. Its quite fun.

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