The SmarK DVD Rant – Remake-O-Rama II: The Sequel!
If there’s one thing Hollywood never tires of doing, it’s rebooting franchises or remaking old TV shows into new ones. So really, it’s only fitting that I do a sequel to my previous entry on remakes and sequels. Our topics of conversation this time: Predators and The A-Team.
Like many people, I thought this was directed by Robert Rodriguez, and was kind of disappointed when I learned he was only a producer. Still, his fingerprints are all over it, in a good way. Ostensibly a reboot/sequel to the original Predator, but really more of a retelling of The World’s Most Dangerous Game, the premise here was intriguing enough to hook me right away. Eight people are dropped into the jungle in the middle of nowhere, headed up by Adrien Brody (not exactly your first choice of badass, but he fills the role well enough). They don’t know how they got there or what they’re doing there, but they’re all really bad people. Well, except for a doctor named Edwin (Topher Grace, sticking out like a sore thumb), who seems to be there for the audience to relate to, as his main function is to run in terror and ask "What the fuck is going on?" 10 times a scene. And indeed, what is going on is that our heroes have been dropped into a hunting preserve run by the Predators. What follows is like a cross between the original Predator and Aliens, with the confused soldiers getting picked off one-by-one in pretty awesome ways while trying to figure out where they are. There’s even references to both movies, as this film makes no bones about its influences. What I really liked here is the efficiency of storytelling, even in a movie that’s 110 minutes long. This movie makes no attempt to explain the backstory of the people involved (with one notable exception) or offer any reasoning for how and why they were "chosen" for the hunt. All we know is that they’re here with weapons and guts and they need to survive. While the acting rarely amounts to anything more than alpha-male posturing, there’s a lot of fun to be had here. Critics were pretty harsh to this during the theatrical run, but then most of them hated the original as well. This is clearly the sequel that Predator 2 should have been, and it’s loads better than the putrid Alien v. Predator movies as well. I really enjoyed playing along with the movie and guessing who was gonna get it next, and how, and stuff blows up real good along the way. For fans of the original movie who have been disappointed by the sequels, this is absolutely worth a viewing. Recommended!
Given that I’m a typical Gen X slacker thirtysomething, you’d be safe (and correct) to assume that I watched the hell out of The A-Team back when I was a youngster in the 80s. Which is why it was kind of disappointing to see Hollywood attempting to recapture the magic of the show in movie form. Of course, given that the show doesn’t really hold up all these years later, it’s hard to hold the movie version to standards that are too outrageously high. I mean, the trailer shows you Faceman shooting at planes while falling from 20,000 feet in a tank! How can you not love that a little bit? So first, the bad. Quinton Jackson is no Mr. T, and he’s immediately the weakest link in the team as far as acting goes. The plot is both ridiculous and overly complex, and the movie itself is far too long (and 15 minutes longer on the extended version DVD). Plus, much like the original show, the laws of physics and common sense are completely out the window (usually firing guns on the way down). Those minor quibbles aside, this is a fun and light-hearted take on the original premise, acting as a prequel of sorts to the original show. Of course, that’s kind of the problem right there, as the show didn’t need a backstory when all the explanation you need is given by the narrator via a 15 second introduction. And yet this movie doesn’t even finish the CREDITS until about 20 minutes have passed, so economy of storytelling is not what you’re looking for here. The various black ops cartoon characters who inhabit the world get kind of tough to follow, as the double and triple-crosses leave you scratching your head about who is supposed to be working with who and why. And yet, despite the flaws, there’s something really charming about Sharlto Copley being all crazy as Murdock, or bad guy Pike having a running conversation with his captors in the back of a car while instructing them on the proper use of guns and handcuffs. Any movie that openly complains about the 3D craze via an insane asylum gets my vote, and the big finale is suitably big and stupid. I would have liked to cut about 30 minutes out of the running time and not had Jessica Biel dragging the movie down, but I guess that’s why I’m not in charge of the studio. Theatrically it was something of a bomb, but I think it’ll find an audience on DVD with fans of action movies. You can’t really be mad at a movie that knows how stupid it is and gleefully comes up with bigger and stupider things to blow up to prove that point. Recommended!
The winner this time: Both are worth a rental, although I enjoyed Predators a bit more.
Tags: Adrien Brody, Aliens, DVD, Predators, SmarK Rants, The A-Team, Topher Grace