Thursday, October 25, 2012

I ain't got time to bleed

Predator (1987)
Have seen this one plenty of times, but seems like I always wind up catching the last 30-45 minutes on cable, so this is the first time I've actually sat down to watch it quite some time.  For the record, this is already DVD #3 that was unopened prior to my watching it this go around.  Ahem.  Money well spent?  But hey, isn't this exactly the reason that you buy those movies, so you have ready and available in case you feel the need to watch the complete works of a given actor or director?  Check.

Just an excellent movie all around and it's between this or Commando where Arnold really starts being "Arnold".  At this point, he's larger than life in the film, but not yet "doing Arnold" very much, or at least not to the point of distraction like begins happening with The Running Man.  Yet again, he really is the character in this one.  His expressions are awesome, his screen presence is dominating, and he just.  looks.  cool.  I'd forgotten how much good stuff goes on in the first half of the movie, way before the Predator starts collecting the heroes.  The first half is an excellent combat action movie, the troop is *almost* entirely believable in their roles (I'm looking at you, Jesse), and there's some genuine tension, drama, and great performances handed in.  Carl really holds his own paired up with Arnold, and special nod to Sonny Landham as Billy for just being completely bad-ass and fun to watch.

Have I mentioned how important directors are in Arnold's movies for getting a good performance out of him and his co-stars?  Well, we happen to blessed with future hall of famer John F'ng McTiernan at the helm here and... well... just wow.  It's a testament to his skill that he took a complete joke of a story idea (a highly advanced alien has nothing better to do than come to Earth and go hunting the locals... seriously?) and made it feel completely believable.  The moments that are over the top are just cool.  They're not the wink-at-the-camera crap that, while loads of fun, really breaks the immersion.

McTiernan gets a truly excellent performance out of Arnold.  His looks, his timing, his delivery, his expressions.... they all connect and bring a lot to what would have otherwise been pretty much a by-the-numbers action film.  A great example of Arnold being a star worth tossing craploads of money to.  He's just so earnest and direct and the few cheesy one-liners are delivered straight and without that "hey, I'm Arnold" wink and nod.  So when he says "You're one... *ugly* motherfucker" in The Accent, it's just pure awesome.  Arnold's dialogue actually *adds* to the tension rather than being used as periodic comic relief.  As they start figuring out what's going on with the Predator, the overall sense of fear amongst these formerly unflappable guys sucks you in and their performances do wonders for the drama.

This isn't a well-rounded movie on the level of Conan, but it's a lovingly-crafted bit of escapist fun and absolutely worth the occasional re-watch. Also worth noting that the effects held up very well, particularly the invisibility screen. Although I do still have to wonder how the Predator's species managed to evolve to be tool users with such complete crap vision quality.

Ahnold Quotient - 9
Arnold again at his cigar-chomping best.  His accent actually seems stronger here than the last few movies, and I have to think that's intentional.  And I don't mind one bit.

Rewatchability - Yes please
Had forgotten just what a great movie this is.  As much action as Commando, but a much more intelligent use of it with vastly better pacing.  I'd happily sit down and pop this DVD in any day.

Next up... The movie where Arnold starts becoming a caricature of himself: The Running Man.  But I don't mind that one bit, it's a very fond favorite of mine.

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