PROS:  Good cast.  Much truer to the original than other offerings.  Surprise Lawrence Fishburne.

CONS:  Some standard Hollywood contrived jackassery.  Pacing felt a little off.  Telegraphed some things even worse than most movies.

THINGS I LIKED:  Direct references to original film.  Nice juxtaposition between Predators and actual human hunters without vilifying hunting in general.  Other hunted species with symbiotic beetles was a nice touch.

NITPICKS:  Why was there a plant a human could identify on an alien planet? Plus, I don’t think that plant really exists.  How can so many different species all breathe the same air?  Do all Japanese just know how to wield katanas, because I don’t think they do.

I enjoyed the first Predator movie very much, but like a lot of people I thought the whole franchise kind of went down a steep hill from there.  I think if Predators had been the original sequel I would have been pretty pleased but given all the goodwill the series has burned up since then I’ll just say it was well filmed and fun and leave it at that.  Personally, I thought Adrian Brody brought a nice touch to the film…when you’re that well trained and armed you don’t really need biceps the size of your head.  At first I found myself thinking a lot of the lines were kind of over the top, but then I remembered that one of the lines in the original film was actually ‘I don’t got time to bleed’ and decided that in Predator-world it was okay for people to talk like that.

It follows the original’s formula – a bunch of armed guys (plus one gal) get stuck in the middle of Oh-Shitville with a Predator (actually PredatorS this time) who uses the humans to hunt for sport, picking them off one by one.  The one big difference here though is that while they actually got some pretty good acting power assembled for the movie, the characters just weren’t as interesting.  Maybe part of it was the fact that this time around at least half of them were sociopaths.  As much as I like Danny Trejo, after he told the story about how he put a kidnap victim in an oil drum then lit it on fire, I didn’t feel particularly sorry for him when the Predator got him.  Same went for the convict who was apparently on the FBI’s Most Wanted List for ‘rapin’ bitches’ (his words).  Now that I think of it, there were some problems with some of the dialogue that I can’t really explain away by citing the quip-like nature of the first movie…like, for instance, the fact that after the convict found out he was on another planet, rather than immediately drop a deuce in his pants (which is what most reasonable people would do in that scenario) he instead can’t wait to get back home so that he can resume ‘rapin’ bitches’.  Then later he pulls some redemption move where he throws himself at one of the Predators so the others can get away, but frankly if you’re that rapey I don’t feel like you can really pull off a convincing redemption move.  Basically what I’m driving at here is that in the first movie maybe the soldiers in the cast got (or gave) questionable orders sometimes, but they were essentially ‘good guys’ and you could actually care about their predicament…every time one of them died it was kind of too bad.  This time around it was mostly like ‘good’.

Don’t get me wrong though – the movie was fun, and that’s what it intended to be.  It also obviously intends to at least try and reboot the franchise based on the ending (which provides no resolution at all, and instead holds the door wide open not just for a sequel but for as many more as they feel like making).  If more movies take place in the alien game preserve, I don’t think that would be the worst thing for the franchise (Predators vs. Aliens was already the worst thing).

The one thing it did get me thinking about though was the Predators themselves, since the movie set up that they return to the game preserve season after season (like human hunters) and they did things like use prey-in-distress mimicking decoys, dogs for flushing prey, etc (like human hunters do) and care about the actual sport of it (as many human hunters do)…all this made me equate them with human hunters, which ended up taking me to a weird place because human hunters get all suited up and armed to go out hunting season after season, but they don’t walk around in camouflage carrying hunting knives and scoped rifles when they’re not actually hunting, they go to work like everybody else.  I couldn’t help, then, but imagine the Predators during the off-season when they were standing around the water-cooler trading stories about the awesome human skull and attached spine they got mounted last season, which can only be displayed in the basement game room because their wife really doesn’t want it in the den.

BOTTOM LINE:  You’ve already seen this so you don’t care.  Still, if you liked the first Predator you’ll probably like this one too, just not quite as much.

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