Friday, March 20, 2015

Why No Love for Predator 2? It’s the Better Film!


The Predator franchise is perhaps the best known and warmly embraced series about interstellar aliens on safari. It is so successful that the original meaning of the word predator now comes second in many people’s minds, after the image of the alien hunter.
I was sitting around with some friends recently- throwing back a few beers, smoking a few cigars, and urinating in a few alleys- when the conversation eventually wandered onto the topic of films. And as usual a hubbub of whiny complaints emerged about the number of sequels being vomited up by the Hollywood machine.
I don’t care. Apparently someone’s watching these films if they keep making them. The demand must be there. It’s not something that I’m demanding, but I am apparently in the minority- nothing new there. But that isn’t good enough for my friend Mitchel. He is one of those guys who constantly complains about The Walking Dead but never misses an episode, like he’s going out of his way to antagonize himself.
“They can do sequels, but why are they all so bad?”
“Perhaps because so many people- like you- watch them no matter what they’re like.”
“I don’t pay to see them.” He retorts.
Which gives him even less reason to complain.
I attempted to divert the conversation away from “those guys in Hollywood who should make good film and not bad ones” by stating that sometimes the sequels are better than the original, which starts us off listing a few. We go through the standard list- The Godfather Part II, Aliens, Evil Dead II, The Road Warrior, The Good The Bad and The Ugly- at which point I offer up Predator 2.
Never get tired of this!
The table goes dead, like I had just slapped a nun. Everyone there disagrees with me- violently so. The opposition is so fierce that I start to think we are talking about two different movies. But no, they knew exactly which film it was. The evening ended with a lot of back and forth, all of us being impolitely asked to leave, and me loudly wishing that all of their families would die of AIDS.
         So, unable to convince the others, for this entry I will present my reasons for why Predator 2 is the better film. And God help you if you disagree!
             1. It Has Better Actors and Acting:
           Not to disparage Ah-nold or his thespian skills, but everyone must admit staring in Predator wasn’t exactly a breakthrough performance. “You are one ugly motherfucker.” Not best catch phrase. We have all heard him grunt through similar roles in a dozen movies. His characters in Raw Deal, Commando, End of Days, Collateral Damage, and Predator might’ve easily been the same character.
       And it holds true for the rest of the original Predator cast as well. While we all enjoy the irony factor of having two future US governors in the film, Jessie “I’m a Sexual Tyrannosaurus” Ventura is no actor of merit. Carl Weathers was serviceable. He said his lines in a coherent manner, lost his arm, and died. He’s really just there to be sliced up. For a serious role with Weathers, I’ll watch him in Rocky. For comedy, I’ll watch him get a stew going on. And while Bill Duke has the dead eyed sociopath character down and knows how to stab a scorpion, his role is not explosive. Plus the rest of the cast- the Indian, the Hispanic Chick and the Skinny White Guy who tells sexual jokes too childish for a 4th grader. No one was bad, they were just okay. The real standout was the alien’s makeup and it did not disappoint.
Plus it touted Morton Downey Jr. RIP
      On to Predator 2 and we have Danny Glover- always good as the everyman cop doing his best against the odds roles. Bill Paxton doing his smarmiest best as the wanna-be hot dog cop. “Blah blah blah is my specialty.” Ruben Blades and Maria Conchita Alonso as a pair of detective, not exactly your muscle bound types. Plus to top it off a pre-motorcycle accident Gary Busey, before his brains were scrambled. All together there is a lot more personality in the cast of Predator 2 and it shows.

2. It Has a Better Plot
Granted Predator 2 builds on Predator, but there is still much more swirling around in this cyberpunk future. It had gang wars, Hispanic drug cartels, Voodoo rituals, mysterious government agencies, and a city on the edge where everyone runs around packed- leading to my favorite scene of vigilantes on the subway, a fun parody of Bernard Goetz.
Predator 1 didn't have enough
old ladies with brooms!
Predator after the 40 minute mark slows down a lot. You know everyone except for Arnold and the chick will die and you’re just sitting around waiting to see what the alien looks like. After Carl Weather bites it, you might as well fast forward to the end. Predator 2 doesn’t slow down. It is paced perfectly to keep your interest, with little comedic flares along the way.

3. It Has a Much Better Resolution:
The end of Predator 2 gives us every understanding we have of Predator culture, as opposed to Predator where the creature commits suicide, trying to take everyone with him. Not exactly the spirit of an honorable hunter species we associate with them. It’s from Predator 2 where we get the true sense of them.

Some damn good comics!
The last three minutes of Predator 2 has been expanded on and influenced every other further media development of the franchise (though ‘m still waiting for a video game where you play the Predator in a free roam city, sort of like Grand Theft Auto). Plus the on special shot- added as a joke- gave us a series of great graphic novels and 2 bad movies.
Stay tuned for my next blog where I will explain why Fletch Lives is better than Fletch.
What? You don’t agree?