Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Predator ★★★1/2

    Over the course of cinema history, few movies have successfully blended two genres together to make one film. "Predator" is a 1987 film that combines the action genre with that of science fiction in a way that makes it seem relatively easy. This is the second picture directed by John McTiernan, who receives the most recognition for his work on two of the "Die Hard" films. With a shockingly beautiful exterior environment and a terrific cast of characters, this film will leave your pulses throbbing.

    "Predator" begins with a shot from outer space in which we witness a spaceship release a pod toward Earth. This opening scene indicates that we are in for a science fiction film. The camera quickly takes us to a Central American camp where a team of special force soldiers are being flown in for a mission. The leader of this group is Major Dutch Schaefer, a ruggedly built individual who takes pride in his work and loves his men. Dutch soon finds out that an old friend, George Dillon, is the man responsible for bringing him in. The mission is to rescue a presidential cabinet minister, who has been abducted by guerrilla forces after his helicopter crashed in enemy territory. Dutch's team is then escorted by helicopter to the coordinates of the downed aircraft. We get a glimpse of the distinctive personalities of this crew who will soon find out that their mission isn't what they signed up for and that something is waiting for them. 

    In order to have a successful action film, then you must first have a group of actors that not only can play the part but look it. Arnold Schwarzenegger  excels in this department. A pro bodybuilder turned actor, Schwarzenegger provides us with his third major motion picture role. He is wonderfully believable as a commander of a special forces unit. A simpler plot and dialogue leave Schwarzenegger to do what he does best: kick tail. Carl Weathers jumps into the role of George Dillon, the old comrade of Dutch who tags along to ensure the mission is completed. Weathers, who is an ex-professional football player, also very much looks the part that he is given. (Most will recognize him from his work in the "Rocky" films.) The rest of the cast also exhibit soldier-esque physiques and mentalities, including a cameo by a former mayor of a small Minnesota town, Jesse Ventura. I have a high respect for actors and their profession. This respect grows when you realize the preparation taken for a particular role. These actors here have bodies that most men will never achieve, and they endured horrid shooting conditions to make this film. I just hope that they feel the finished product was worthy of their exasperated efforts.

    "Predator" is a movie that aims for a certain goal and executes it perfectly. The exquisitely beautiful jungle setting makes this film along with some underrated direction. I also must give recognition to Alan Silvestri, who sets the overall tone of the film with his musical scores. I must whole heartily disagree with the notion that this film has "arguably one of the emptiest, feeblest, most derivative scripts ever made as a major studio movie." Sure, the script and dialogue do not compare to any classic film in cinema history, and that is because it was not made to do so. This movie does exactly what it set out to do: transport the audience to a tropical setting to witness action and suspense. In film, we must learn the distinction between genres. Most, if not all, action films are not going to have a stellar script or complex story line. As a movie critic, we have to judge these genres individually. Otherwise, we will be comparing films such as "Predator" to the likes of "Casablanca." 

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