Anthony's Film Review
Predator is familiar yet fun Schwarzenegger fare...
There is something about Arnold Schwarzenegger that makes him a suitable choice for action films with a science-fiction or fantasy setting. Whether he's playing the barbarian Conan or the cyborg Terminator, Schwarzenegger is able to embody the role with his muscular brawn and tough persona. He's practically a natural for the genre of action movies. And if this actor is mainly known for these kinds of movies, it should be no surprise that his next movie is a fantasy or sci-fi action film. Hence, we have Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1987 sci-fi action movie Predator.
Here, he plays a commando named Dutch. He is a member of a special armed forces team assigned with a simple mission: find out what happened to a helicopter that went down in Central America. Much of the first 40 minutes of the movie is all about this mission. The team goes into the Central American jungle and, before long, gets into a vicious gunfight with guerilla fighters in a small village. The gunfight in the village is pretty cool, and there are lots of gunshots and explosions for a place that isn't overly fortified.
Early on, the only indication that Predator is a science-fiction movie is the film's opening shot depicting a spaceship heading towards Earth. After a while, we see the other sign that the antagonist of this movie is something out of this world. The enemy, whatever it is, is watching Dutch and his men with infrared vision. And it really doesn't look like it's from a manmade infrared camera. Pretty soon, we see a hand emerge into that infrared shot. It's clearly not a human hand. In fact, it doesn't even belong to any living thing on Earth.
Because the movie focuses a lot on the commando mission in the beginning, there's a sense that the meat of the movie's sci-fi portion is going to come too little too late. But nearly halfway into the movie, it's clear that the movie is taking the classic approach of not showing the enemy in full right away. Instead, it increasingly hints at the nature of the enemy in a gradual manner. After a couple of infrared shots from the enemy's perspective, plus the strange hand, a few more strange sights appear on screen. The movie picks up a little as we wonder what this thing really is, especially as it doesn't leave any traces.
As I watched the second half of Predator, I couldn't help but compare this movie to another sci-fi movie: Alien. Both movies involve humans attempting to outwit an alien lifeform that appears on screen only in glimpses but is nevertheless a formidable opponent. Yet, I can't help but think that Predator, while still entertaining, is not as intense as Alien. Maybe it's the fact that the action takes place in a jungle mostly in broad daylight, not a more dark and claustrophobic setting like a ship in the middle of space. Maybe it's because the Predator is a humanoid with more advanced technology, which I don't find as scary as the hideous Alien that can grow quickly and devour humans in grotesque ways (including from the inside out). Even so, the climax of Predator isn't too bad. It may not be an all-out action-packed extravaganza, but it's still a showdown of man versus extraterrestrial.
So when I consider what stood out most for me, namely the typical Schwarzenegger action fare, Schwarzenegger's corny one-liners during the action, and the science-fiction element, I think Predator isn't a bad movie, but it's just an OK one. There's nothing that went above and beyond my expectations so that I would rate the movie a little higher. The plot and character development are pretty thin, but at least the core element of action is there and not done poorly. Overall, Predator is a standard Arnold Schwarzenegger action movie of an average quality.
For more information about Predator, visit the Internet Movie Database.