-20th Century Fox (1987)
Arnold Schwarzenegger faces off against one crazy-ass alien hunter.
Predator is one of those great films from the 1980s that formed part of the foundation of big action movies with larger than life heroes. It is also the film that spawned the franchise to forever become linked with the Aliens series.
What separates Predator from most other "everyone gets killed except for one guy" type of films is the great cast of characters. Since so much of the enjoyment of the film stems from the collection of characters, I have to give a little detail on each. You've got the leader Dutch, played by Arnold, who’s a tough as nails commando with a heart of gold. The rest of the team is equally colorful and you actually care if they live or die, which is something a lot of other films of this type fail to do.
Among this group is the ex-governor of Minnesota, Jessie "The Body" Ventura. He plays a tobacco chewing foul mouth named Blain. His best trait is that he's in charge of the huge ass mini-gun. God damn, a mini-gun! His best friend is Mac, played by Bill Duke, is one of the coolest characters in this film. This guy isn’t most mentally stable at the beginning of the film, and when he really loses it the film gets a lot better. The scariest part of Predator doesn't have to do anything with the Predator at all, but when Mac's dry shaving his face with a Bic razor. He shaves so hard that he breaks the razor. By god, what horror, my face just hurts just thinking about it.
Carl Weathers plays the ultra freaky strong CIA agent Major Dillon. His character serves as a source of stress and contention between the men and he’s there to keep the human story interesting, but in reality he doesn't do a whole lot to be an interesting character. One of the best characters is Billy, played by Sonny Landham. He’s an ultra cool tracker, but unfortunately he's the stereotypical "in touch with nature" Indian. He's a cool character and all, but there's that underlying mysticism with him because of his heritage. It’s not necessarily a bad stereotype, but one that exists nevertheless. I have to admit that it's weird considering that the character of Poncho Ramirez, played by Richard Chaves, is the stereotypical Indian in the largely forgotten but superior TV show, War of the Worlds. So in this film he’s a Hispanic man, and in that show he’s an uber-Indian. Weird. Since I loved the War of the Worlds series so much (and I'm probably the only one who does), Ramirez is my favorite character by default. Last and very least is the Guy with Big Glasses that nobody cares about and is the first one to die, very deservingly I may add.
Predator begins with the team of commandos going in to save some hostages. It turns out… blah blah blah…Russians… blah… blah. It doesn't really matter. The important thing is that it gets Arnold into the jungle, because Carl Weathers screwed him over. The seven man team kills about 200 people in the rebel encampment or whatever the hell it is (it doesn't matter). They also kill Tank from Captain Power…holy crap I’m a dork for recognizing that guy. After they kill everyone they find a girl who happens to be hot. They take her along and that's when the real fun begins. No, there’s no group sex scene you freak, the "story" moves on to have the guys getting killed off one by one. At first they think it may be a couple of assassins, but then they realize that they are fighting something completely unworldly.
The writers, Jim and John Thomas, created an awesome monster character in the Predator. It’s big, scary, and has the tools to get the job done. Among its arsenal is stealth camo, a shoulder mounted plasma gun, wrist blades, heat vision, and dreadlocks. It also can self-medicate and it collects human skulls. At one point I thought that the Predator might be going a little overboard with the amount of high tech stuff he uses in order to kill his prey. But, one glance at my local Wal*Mart's sporting goods aisle made me think differently. They've got scent removing laundry detergent, calls, laser range finders, night vision spotters, and even deer urine. Come on already, all you have to do is sit in a tree, aim, and shoot, which is in fact what the Predator does so I guess I can't blame him for wanting the best equipment on a hunt.
The killing machine does away with each soldier the old fashioned way, one at a time. Each death is depicted in a brutal yet enjoyable way, that is for the viewer. The award for best death is almost a tie between Mac noticing the laser sights on his arm before soaking the camera with his brain juices, and Carl Weather's one armed battle. I'm giving the award to Mac since his was technically cooler in my book. The Most Stupid Act of Machismo award has to go to Billy for throwing down his gun and pulling out his knife for a man to alien brawl. Judging by the hideous scream heard only seconds later, I don't think it went too well. It's the contention of a friend of mine that the Predator pushed Billy off the log without even fighting him. Alas, we'll never know.
At this point in the film, Arnold knows he must buy time for the hot Hispanic girl so he utters the classic line, "GET TO DA CHOPPA!!" and makes a stand against the Predator. After getting his ass kicked he manages to fall into some water, crawl his way to a log, and magically disappear from the Predator's vision. Lucky, enough for our hero isn't it? In the woods, Arnold whips out the best trait of humanity: ingenuity. He spends…one night (how?) and makes about three dozen complicated tools from scratch such as traps, spears, and bows and arrows. This is an amazing feat considering how long it would take an average human being to even attempt to do such things, but then again, this is ARNOLD.
The end battle is an epic showdown between the two foes. Arnold crushes his bug, but not before it tries to one up him. I always had my doubts about this ending. I know that action heroes do unbelievable things, and are much larger than life, but how in the hell could Arnold survive at the end? I am speaking, of course of what can only be considered a mini-nuke used by the Predator as it dies. How Arnold can literally out run a nuke is beyond me. It's even more amazing to consider that you learn about the size of the explosion in Predator 2, that is, the explosion is the size of several city blocks. He must be a quick runner.
I hate, and let me stress hate, when you put in a DVD and a commercial starts playing. In this case it's an overly long promo for Fox DVDs. What's even worse is that after all the promotion about the great special features and 3-D animated menus and magic marshmallow prizes you go right to a still menu for Predator, which has absolutely no features whatsoever. Well, there is ONE special feature and it's a trailer. Whoop-de-doo!
The edition I have is decoded in DTS as well as 5.1, and there’s also a version that is just 5.1 without animorphic widescreen. You must get the DTS version if you have a DTS decoder, because it sounds so much better than the 5.1 mix. The two editions look almost exactly alike, except that the better one has a silver bar on the top that says, "Enhanced Widescreen."
The only saving grace for this edition is the DTS track.
If you liked this review, check out the Alien Vs Predator Arcade game review.