“I ‘ain’t got time to bleed.” – Blain, Predator (1987)
This is another one of those classic films that you just have to watch. That is what I was told anyways. Everyone I spoke to held this film in a very high acclaim. Sure, I guess I can see why. The key word there though is “guess”, because despite all the action and tropes this film can play with, I didn’t think it was as good as everyone else thinks it is. Bear in mind though, I did enjoy it, but not to the extent of everyone else.
Major Alan “Dutch” Schaefer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and his team are sent into the Val Verde jungle where an unidentified object has landed. Unbeknownst to him and his team, Dutch and co. are stalked by this unidentified object, the Predator (Kevin Peter Hall/Peter Cullen). Over the course of the film, his team are picked off and killed one by one. It has a supporting cast featuring Jesse Ventura so I mean why wouldn’t you watch this film? Oh, and Carl Weathers too, can’t forget about him now can you.
Jesse Ventura is in this film and that was more than enough for me. Honestly I’m not sure what it is about him but there’s something so mesmerising about his role. To be honest I think Blain is absolutely the best character in this film. He had some great lines and some even better moments throughout the entire film. Actually the whole cast of characters as a whole were pretty cool. Arnie obviously steals the show though, because of course he does.
You’d be very surprised to learn that this is the very first Arnold Schwarzenegger film. Well, second, if you count Batman and Robin (1997), which I don’t. I think the reason I haven’t reviewed any of his films is because his name is just so damn difficult to spell. Regardless of that though, seeing my first Arnie film was a blast. He’s one of those actors that is simply quite shit but charming at the same time. Seeing him introduced in this film was badass though, jumping off a helicopter with a cigar? That’s a sure fire way of asserting your character into a film.
But what I said previously, about the bad acting? That’s apparent throughout. I’m not knocking Arnie, I do enjoy his performance in this film and him as an actor, but, there’s something about his performance. It’s funnily terrible. That’s a really poor sentence and structure of grammar, but that’s the only way to describe it. Arnie does try at least, but at times his performance is so bad it’s good. The unbroken shots of him firing machine guns, those are possibly the funniest parts of the film.
The music and lighting throughout this film are in fact surprisingly good. None that I can remember though, they weren’t memorable. Really it was just standard stuff for an action film and it did it’s part. That is a surprisingly good part of the film though, the fact that these components don’t stand out. If they had done then it would have detracted from the action of the film as a whole. So really what I’m trying to say is that Predator is quite good because nothing stands out. The action of the film is always the central focus.
However my main problem with Predator is that it fails to create any form of tension whatsoever. It’s not too big of a deal, right? But for the most part I felt very underwhelmed throughout my viewing. There were no scenes of fear or tension, just shock value really, and it wasn’t very shocking that they were killing off minor characters. The majorly tense moments were obviously at the end of the film, and they weren’t even that tense.
I don’t know if it’s a spoiler or not, but a lot of people die in this film. There’s one scene where the film realises it just needs Arnie, so it tries it’s best to kill off everyone else. It just seemed a bit artificial, as if the one on one aspect had been done before. Who can think of a film where a hero comes up against an unknown Alien. Nothing is ringing any bells, but I’m sure it’ll come to me when I give it a think. No, it’s not a bad thing it copies that amazing film, it just seems a bit like an old idea at this point. Especially considering it came out seven long years after the first film released.
Another problem I had with this film was the CGI. What a time to be alive in the 1980s, with CGI that looks genuinely horrific. Look, I know it was 1987, but come on, this is some damn terrible use of the green screen. For the first hour or so of the film the Predator itself is using a cloaking device that you can sort of see. Because of this the film relies on CGI to make it cloak, and my God does it look terrible. Also, the Predator vision itself looks slightly dated now, but that’s a whole different story. So while the actual props are quite good the use of CGI is pretty damn bad. Embarrassingly bad is how I would describe it.
Where else can you watch a film where two former governors of California are running round blowing shit up? It’s a film that is so high on adrenalin it doesn’t care if you’re with it or against it. Luckily I was with it and had quite possibly the most exhilarating, over the top fun I have ever had with an action film. A film where there is a close up on a burly handshake that turns into an air arm wrestle. This is a testament to film, full of testosterone and a pretty decent villain at that.
Still, as a film though, it is surprisingly good. There’s a lot of action throughout, obviously, it works very well. Really what this film is to me is an hour and forty minutes of Arnie flexing his big old muscles and firing rifles at things that look like trees. For a film all about that, it works exceptionally well. Predator isn’t a scary film, it doesn’t have the thrills of something like Alien (1979), but it does definitely provide a fun time. Don’t expect a thrilling time, just expect some balls to the wall, testosterone fuelled action. Nothing wrong with that.