Posts Tagged ‘Arnold Schwarzenegger’

By the dawning of the 1980s Schwarzenegger was a famous body builder champion and Stallone an acclaimed writer/actor and director, Bruce ‘Moonlighting’ Willis wasn’t even in their peripheral vision.

Ah the 80s some fun and at times serious rivalry between these two box office heavy weights, there wasn’t a dull moment in Hollywood-land. Both suffering from career lulls, Schwarzenegger’s heart-attack and vocation change, Stallone making some bad films they looked liked history, but Stallone pulled a decent Rocky and Rambo out of the bag and Arnie finished his Governor duties.
The balance appears to be somewhat restored and the guys are (well at least one of them is) returning to form and with them both appearing in (the average) Expendables 2 and the up and interesting looking with equal-ish screen-time The Escape Plan, there’s life in the old guys yet. There’s a tonne of information on them so I won’t bore you any further but here are a few thoughts on their fresh offerings:
The Last Stand (2013)
With the FBI hot on his tail an escaped drug cartel heads for the Mexican border, where the only thing to stop him is a sheriff and his untested deputies.
Arnold Schwarzenegger spews the out one liners and chunks of exposition where necessary from a variety of screen writers. There’s guns, explosions, stunts, raging action sequences and blood – lots of blood from a talented director Kim Jee-Woon. The city setting in contrast to the hot desert town adds some needed atmosphere and it’s genuinely edgy and graphic at times.
Forest Whitaker is there to take up screen time as possibly to ease Arnie in as Ray Owens. Notable is Eduardo Noriega who is impressive as the bad guy Gabriel Cortez with solid character Peter Stormare actor adding a further back bone. Although not required Johnny Knoxville and Luis Guzmán provide almost the right balance of comedy and in-jokes.
In amongst the paint by numbers twist and setup it’s a High Noon (1952)/ High Plains Drifter (1973), Sudden Impact (1983) to name a few western type concept from Andrew Knauer with a climatic Commando (1985) – like showdown.
All in all a decent film but without Schwarzenegger it would just be another action film and a viewers raw deal.
Bullet to the Head (2012)
With the unlikely alliance with a cop a career criminal sets about to exact revenge after he is double crossed.
Far more memorable than Schwarzenegger’s The Last Stand, writer Alessandro Camon’s screenplay (based on Alexis Nolent’s graphic novel) and director Walter Hill don’t try to reinvent the action-wheel and to the films credit Sylvester Stallone successfully goes against his usual casting playing an unsavoury character namely James Bonomo (Marion Cobretti, Stallone’s own “Cobra” would have certainly despised him).

Despite clichés, some unnecessary flashbacks, over exposition, even repeating plot points just in case you missed them the first time around Bullet to the Head is reminiscent of the Fast and Furious in style with a touch Red Heat with the leads conflicting opinions and one-liners. Vetran director Hill proves he still knows how to direct a solid action film with kinetic axe, gun and fist fights. Christian Slater has a memorable cameo with Jason ‘Conan remake’ Momoa proving he’s more than just a Arnie alternative.

It’s an old school action with a modern slick delivery, worth a watch.

Although I’m not hugely familiar with Robert E. Howard’s 1932 series let it be said I like Conan, enjoyed the Marvel comics and the two tone mixed Schwarzenegger portrayal. I’m a casual fan but once again I prove my geek-worth with a model of Conan sitting on his thrown with his troubled brow in my office, “but that is another story.”
In any case, with the home release due let me tell you of the days of high adventure, or my thoughts on the recent incarnation.
Conan the Barbarian (2011)
Conan the Cimmerian is on a quest to avenge the murder of his father and the slaughter of his village.
Conan the Barbarian is a violent bloody R rated sword and sorcery adventure that unfortunately carries the weight of the likes of Prince of Persia, Clash of the Titans and Pirates of the Caribbean.
The story opens with a tantalising origin story that equals the 1982 version, however, without drawing comparisons to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s successful outing even though Marcus Nispel’s incarnation is action packed, graphic and gory it’s too glossy which takes the much needed edge, rawness and grounded grittiness away.
Jason Momoa’s Conan is very likable, talkative and agile. However, Stephen Lang as Khalar Zym sadly falls into hammy stereotype antagonist territory, reminiscent of his role in Avatar. For whatever reason the striking and physical Rachel Nichols looks uncomfortable as damsel Tamara. Rose McGowan’s Marique has more depth to her character giving some needed credence but this is counter balanced by ‘hired’ looking supporting cast lacking any authenticity. Ron Perlman is on form in a lengthy cameo as Conan’s father. Amusingly UK Bottom’s Spudgun Steven O’Donnell puts in an appearance.
There’s an epic score and great costumes, that said as the running time passes the more derivative Conan becomes, amongst the disjointed flash backs the script has an abundance of clichés and stereotypes which stomps on the strong opening of Conan’s youth – where Leo Howard notably plays the young Barbarian.The sets, effects and landscapes are wonderfully shot and executed, but feeling is more He-man than Conan. For all the special effects, less would be more with the likes of the old school horse carriage chase more exciting and fulfilling than the grand CGI set pieces.

Overall it’s a strong action adventure but too stylised lacking the foreboding heaviness that Conan requires to be fully realised. I live, I love, I slay, and I am content – Sort of.
With my recent blog about Governor Swarzenegger I thought it would be rude not to give a little mention to Stallone.
Ah, the 80’s battle of the box office hero’s, amongst and collection of characters the kings of Hollywood actions had their defining characters, Arnold had The Terminator, Bruce Willis had John McClane (see this blog) and Stallone had John Rambo.
Over the last twenty years Stallone has suffered the same career ups and owns as his boxoffice rivals. What separates Sly from his other ex-Planet Hollywood stars is that he’s an Oscar nominated director and writer (never getting the credit he really deserves as a filmmaker). Rocky aside oddly in comparison to the other aforementioned characters John Rambo his most iconic and significant character that changed noticeably over the course of four films. To sum it up in one sentence Rambo went from a quite realistic war veteran in First Blood, to a totally over the top combat instrument in 2 and 3, coming full circle as a mixture for Rambo.
The movie was officially greenlit by Nu Image/Millenium Films and would be loosely based on a novel called Hunter (a novel to which Stallone had the rights for), it involved Rambo hunting a feral beast. In 2009 Stallone stated that the story had been changed and would feature Rambo searching for trafficked women who disappeared  over the Mexican border. However, in May 2010 he confirmed that Rambo V was cancelled and that Rambo had been “retired”.
So in the meantime sit back and relax, if you’ve never seen them or are a fan, here are my thoughts on one of Stallone’s most memorable collection of films.
First Blood (1982)

John Rambo (BAFTA winner Sylvester Stallone) is a fairly reserved and
sensitive guy, a man who has seen and lived the horrors of the Vietnam
War. He returns to the good old United States of America to find his
only friend has died. You can sympathise with him and when small- town sheriff (Brian Dennehy) takes a needless dislike to him and his heavy handed deputies mistreat Rambo you can see why Rambo is sent over the edge.
In retrospect, unfortunately the sequels turned John J Rambo into
‘Rambo’ the icon who relies more on an M-16 to get him out of trouble.
In First Blood Rambo utilises the teachings from Col. Trautman (Richard
Crenna) his war training and combat skills to stay alive and outwit his
pursuers.

With less guns and explosions director Ted Kotcheff competently builds the tension and suspense and you get the feeling Rambo may not make it till the end. The locations are wonderfully atmospheric – foggy, earthly capturing the true outdoors. Stallone, Crenna and Dennehy are on form and the movie has a strong supporting cast that includes David Caruso in an early role as Deputy Mitch. Underpinning all this is Jerry Goldsmith’s memorable score.
Rambo First Blood is a grounded drama and action must see.
Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)
Picking up with Rambo doing hard time after the events of the first film, he is given a second chance, however, he is left for dead behind enemy lines and must escape from his Russian & Vietnamese captors and bring some Vietnam Vet’s home.
Where as the first film was credible, the late George P. Cosmatos’ far-fetched First Blood Part 2 metamorphoses Rambo into the memorable gun-touting icon. With a James Cameron and Sylvester Stallone screenplay it plays on Rambo as the loner war machine. Jack Cardiff’s cinematography is worth mentioning, especially the jungle scenes, and rice-fields where Rambo must dispose of an endless supply of solider extra’s using a machine gun and a bow. Comatos’ packs the screen with stunts and explosions and handles the subtler moments with ease. Jerry Goldsmith once again delivers a thriving memorable score, that adds atmosphere to the films proceedings.
Famous writer and actor Steven Berkoff is perfect as the Russian bad guy (although peculiarly similar to his own General Orlov from 1983’s Octopussy). With a distinguished cast including Julia Nickson as Rambo brief love interest Co Bao, Charles Napier and Martin Kove. Richard Crenna makes a welcomed return as Col. Trautman and once again is the mediator between Rambo and the ‘bureaucrats’. Again Sylvester Stallone is in fanatical preposterous physical shape and mumbles through the restrained scenes with Nickson convincingly.
All in all it’s a great 80’s action flick, delivering a larger than life sequel. However, if there were any serious war messages they’re lost in the mist of leeches, explosions and bullets.
Rambo III (1988)
Peter MacDonald’s Rambo 3 is far removed from Ted Kotcheff’s credible First Blood and follows the Rambo icon established in George P.Cosmatos’ First Blood Part II.
What’s notable from the outset is the real life political and conflict shifts since ’88, as the Americans are helping the Afghan rebels achieve freedom from the invading Russians. As the cold war ended overnight this appeared to hamper this Rambo’s already out of date story line box office success. That said, paradoxically it has made Rambo more significant and highlights how quickly an alliance can shift which may stick in some viewers throats satirically or not.
Richard Crenna once again plays Col. Trautman who is captured behind enemy lines and Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) must stage a solo ‘unofficial’ rescue mission. Again, Stallone is in obscene physical shape for this instalment, and is 100% committed to his role as Rambo. There’s a brief appearance by Kurtwood Smith who gives the usual effective performance. Sasson Gabai and Spiros Focás are part of an effective supporting cast. However, the Russians are an array of forgettable extras and Marc de Jonge Colonel Zaysen just can’t escape from the stereotype script he’s been given.
Rambo 3 is very watchable but in retrospect it’s fraught at times by diplomatic changes of the time, even more so in today’s climate and ironically this takes the fun out this instalment.
Jerry Goldsmith’s score is once again excellent and MacDonald who was handed the directing reigns last minute does his best. There are a few stand out scenes all of which display Stallones refined abilities, a stick fight and horse game. Nevertheless, Sylvester Stallone and Sheldon Lettich screenplay is all comic book dialogue. The film looses memento in the second act and by the third you don’t care who lives or dies.
There’s gun’s, helicopters, bullets, explosions, monks and glow-sticks if that’s your thing you’ll love Rambo III.
Rambo (2008)
Now living in  Thailand, Rambo joins a group of mercenaries to venture into war-torn Burma, and rescue a group of Christian missionaries.
While this is another sequel that keeps John J Rambo as ‘Rambo’ the icon who relies more on a gun to get him out of trouble, Stallone is on top form as the heavy, bulky, Rambo – out with ‘don’t push me’ and in with the new catchy saying ‘go home’.
Col. Trautman (Richard Crenna) is sorely missed but he still makes a brief (from the grave) appearance in Rambo’s dream. With this film is there’s no developed bad guy in a cinematic sense but there is however a bad army and silent leader which adds to the realistic tone of the film.
The acting is a mixed bag from the supporting cast, Brian Tyler’s music is fine, the locations and sets are fantastic but what stands out is Glen MacPhersons cinematography and Sean Albertson’ slick editing. Sly is on top directing form, giving a film that is like a war doc at times and you really see what damage bullets can do. Like is predecessors there is a message in Art Monterastelli’s and Stallone’s screenplay but it’s sometimes lost in the powerful gunfire and graphic blood. It’s not as smart as the First Blood but the ending rounds the film off well and Rambo ‘does go home’…
Yes, I’d happily pay to see another Rambo made. Well done Mr Stallone!
Rambo: Last Blood (2019)

Rambo goes on a rescue mission to Mexico to return a kidnapped loved one but a Mexican gang brings the war back to him.

Last Blood is an interesting Rambo instalment, just as you think Adrian Grunberg’s well directed outing is going to be a paint by numbers kidnap flick there’s a major twist on the Taken-like premise. However, while Sylvester Stallone’s and and few other writers flesh out Rambo (reminiscent of First Blood’s characterisation) aside from some old photos it lacks some much needed dialogue nods and throwbacks. Col. Troutman doesn’t really get a mention, his Vietnamese flame, Co Bao, doesn’t get a look in etc. No bandana or hair cut tidbits either. And the theme music is not as punchy as the early outings.

That said, Rambo’s father is mentioned , his mental state is explored and his reliance on medication is touched on. The last twenty minutes as the grizzled veteran dusts off his crossbows to take on the sex traffickers are particularly gory and graphic, appeasing Rambo action fans. There’s gut-wrenching carnage as he picks off a variety of stereotype cartel. Its as hard hitting as it’s predecessor and makes Part II and Rambo III look quite tame in comparison.

Hopefully, Stallone has one more Rambo outing left in him to come full circle, connect the dots with more Vietnam and First Blood, 2, 3 links not just weapon references. We always wanted him home but maybe Rambo is more entertaining back out in a war zone.

Nevertheless, it’s great to see Stallone as Rambo back on the big screen. Recommend.

Even if he were permitted to run for President, forget the governor of California, forget he’s married to a Kennedy, Arnold Schwarzenegger will always be the last action hero to me.
His bodybuilding Mr. Universe success aside, From Conan to Terminator 2, Arnold was one of the most bankable stars of the 80’s and early 90’s, I’ll never forget an interview where the late Paul Yates on the Big Breakfast Show asked, “do you ever lie to your wife,” he causally replied something like, “Of course, I told her Last Action Hero was a big hit’. Proof he’s always had a great sense of humour!
With some wise roles and taking from his love of the Bond films and his own humour, Arnold finely tuned the one liner quips and he became a household name. Oddly he was never really criticised for his high body counts and Stallone seemed to take all the negative press.
I’m sure if it wasn’t for the sad death of his mother and his own heart problems and surgery that he wouldn’t have slowed. However, issues allowed wannabe Arnie clones to try and take his mantel, nevertheless, the new style of action hero, where brain means brawn did take the limelight and Schwarzenegger was wise to turn to politics which he’d always been interested in.
From a small isolated village in Austria to king of Hollywood, Arnold’s journey is an attraction in itself, but that is another story…
Below are my thoughts on some of Arnold’s most entertaining films.
Raw Deal (1986)
Wrongly disgraced FBI agent Kaminsky (Schwarzenegger) reluctantly takes up a job as a sheriff of a small town but is given another chance, goes undercover and joins the Mafia to take them down.
Paul Michael Glaser’s Raw Deal, possibly with a different director could have become a successful mediocre 80’s cop/gangster flick. However, it become another Arnold vehicle which does them both credit, playing on his humour, packed with one liners, his physicality, he throws guys about and his action persona, he fire lots of guns.
Looking back and to put things into perspective, and removing The Running Man (1987) from the equation, Raw Deal fittingly sits in between Commando (1985) and Red Heat (1988). The story is superior to Mark Lesters Commando, a high body count, rescue action. However, it lacks the dynamics, acting or grounding of Walter Hill’s ‘buddy’ movie Red Heat.
While this is was a clever Schwarzenegger ‘vehicle’ what stands out about Raw Deal is that he’s not on screen all of the time and gives the movie breathing space, allowing the gangsters, a line up of familiar faces including: Sam Wanamaker, Paul Shenar and James Bond baddie Robert Davi to do their stuff. Darren McGavin gives a subtle performance as FBI agent Harry and Kathryn Harrold isn’t bad.
Raw Deal was never going to win awards but it’s an above average production, fast-paced, action-packed and entertaining. It’s a guilty pleasure and a must for Schwarzenegger fans – No one gives Arnie a Raw Deal.
The Running Man (1987)
Arnold Schwarzenegger is Ben Richards who after being set-up with some altered surveillance footage is wrongly-convicted as the Butcher of Bakersfield. Later captured after a prison break he must try to survive a public execution gauntlet, staged as 2019 highest rated TV game show.
Nothing like the Steven King (writing a Richard Bachman) novel, veteran TV director Paul Michael Glaser gives an extraordinary vision of the TV consumer future. While slightly dated and its annoying use of footage from parts of the a film itself The Running Man (1987) was ahead of its time and still is an atmospheric and engaging ride.
It’s packed with outlandish stereotype characters, larger that life bad guys, big action sequences and the traditional Arnie one liners. But there’s a message that runs deep in Steven E. de Souza’s screenplay, which reflects our society, it’s fascination with realty TV, gambling and our fear of 24 hour surveillance, corrupt powerful corporations and manipulation by the media. Tackling the question in its own way, can you believe all you see?
There’s a dreamlike quality to the film, and the darker scenes ooze atmosphere. The costumes, sets and locations are striking, showing a great contrast between the different classes, the score is memorable but what makes this sci-fi work is that you actually care about the characters. The supporting cast are excellent, including Maria Conchita Alonso at her physical best, Alien’s (1979) Yaphet Kotto and Predator’s (1987) Jesse Ventura. Mick Fleetwood plays his older self and real game-show and TV host Richard Dawson is excellently cast as Killian. It goes without saying that Scwarzenegger is on top form in this physical role.
It’s great entertainment, it’s time to start running, don’t take my word for it, watch it.
Red Heat (1988)
Walterhill is on directing form in this Arnold Schwarzenegger action flick. Red Heat despite some political shifts still holds up today. Schwarzenegger looks leaner and meaner than ever in the role of Ivan Danko a Captain who is sent to the U.S.A to bring back fleeing Russian drug dealer back to Moscow assisted by Det. Sgt. Art Ridzik (James Belushi).
The supporting cast are an array of familiar faces including Gina Gershon, Laurence Fishburne and Peter Boyle. Ed O’Ross is convincing as the menacing drug dealer Viktor. Jackie Burch casting is perfect, Schwarzenegger’s Danko character is the just right as the fish out water Russian and James Belushi is on top form as the wise cracking cynical detective, it’s the perfect ‘buddy’ cop movie. The one liners flow fast at the expense of the culture differences between the USA and USSR.
Aside from James Horners rehashed music score from another Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle, Commando (1985), Red Heat feels original and surpasses predecessors, setting the foundation for many copycat films that followed. There’s a witty script but it’s far meatier than your average action film, befitting from a shot on location feel, giving it some believability and atmosphere.
All in all it’s a better than expected, an enjoyable action film with Arnold in his prime.
Total Recall (1990)
Arnold Schwarzenegger plays Douglas Quaid who has the planet Mars on his mind. He goes for virtual vacation, however, things go awry as he discovers that his job, marriage and life maybe a lie. After a murder he’s forced to go to the planet for real but while on the run he finds that he may hold the key to an ancient Martian artifact.
Set in the year 2084 there are some nice futurist touches, talking robots, virtual tennis coaches, electronic nail painting to name a few. The internal mars sets are just that, sets, but the external, airport and mine shots are very effective. There is a wonderful otherworldly score by Jerry Goldsmith and some great costumes and spacesuits designed by Erica Edell Phillips.
RoboCop (1987) director Paul Verhoeven once again uses Ronny Cox as the menacing protagonist in this Phillip K Dick inspired story. In it’s day it was hailed for its special effects and make-up effects and while these have dated slightly, it still holds its own as an entertaining science fiction.
If the director reins and role were given to anyone other than Arnold this may have been a sci-fi thriller, but with Arnie’s larger than life screen presence and Verhoeven highly-flavoured visuals Total Recall is not given a noir look that would usual accompany such subject matter becoming a vivid futuristic action flick.
While the acting is a little overboard with a cast that include Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside and Marshall Bell it’s saved by the intriguing story that moves along at a fast pace and Schwarzenegger performance. The rest of the cast are hired bad guys, mutants and an array of quirky characters.
Overall Total Recall is a great piece of captivating entertainment so “for the memory of a lifetime Rekall, Rekall, Rekall.”
Predator (1987)
A team of commandos find themselves hunted by an extra-terrestrial hunter…
John McTiernan directs the perfect cast including the likes of Carl Weathers, Bill Duke and Jesse Ventura who are just right in this action orientated alien film. Arnold Schwarzenegger is armed with some great one liners but packs in a good performance with some subtler moments.
Apart from The Thing like shot at the very beginning, it’s and original piece that deservingly started a franchise. . To be picky only some of the editing and effects let the film down. Those aside, the music by Alan Silvestri is fitting with it jungle beats building up apprehension and suspense throughout the film. This film could have easy fallen into B movie territory, but the great Cinematography, creature effects and costume design keep it grounded.
The film builds up in true monster fashion by holding back the Predator’s reveal. Not since Alien has there been such hand iconic creature which Kevin Peter Hall wonderfully brings to life. John McTiernan notches up the tension in the final showdown and writers Jim Thomas & John Thomas give us a brave bold ending.
One of the most enjoyable rounded sci-fi films ever.
The Terminator (1984)
The Terminator remains one of the most enjoyable Science fiction films of all time. Bradfield’s pulse pumping score and nostalgic music from an array of obscure bands all adds to the lure of this timeless classic.
James Cameron’s direction is excellent, giving the visuals scope and depth. His above average story and screenplay stop it falling into B-movie hell.
The time travel is logical; in as much as if Sarah had never met Kyle, John would have been the off spring of one of her dates. Either way it’s highly satisfying science fiction and not science fact.
The films cast include Paul Winfield, Lance Henriksen who play it natural and straight, Bill Paxton and Brian Thompson briefly turn up. The leads Michael Biehn and Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor give flawless performances and keep you routing for their survival from the now infamous Arnold Schwarzenegger, as the Terminator. The film has a gritty and edgy look, with some gore moments, even though some of the effects have dated, the practical effects from Oscar winner Stan Winston hold up to this day.
A defining moment for sci-fi action, Schwarzenegger and Cameron. The Terminator is compulsive viewing.
Commando (1985)

With a larger than life story, catchy tag-line and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s name in bold letters you felt at the time this action could be something special.

In 1985 Schwarzenegger need only fend off Chuck Norris and Sylvester Stallone to become number the one action hero. Mark L. Lester’s Commando gave Schwarzenegger the opportunity to become a mainstream action star without the high concept’s of being a killer robot or an amoral barbarian. Schwarzenegger, avoiding bad guy typecast quickly became a good guy hero and the rest is history.

In true 80’s tradition Commando’s writer’s Steven E. de Souza, Jeph Loeb, Matthew Weisman deliver a simplistic paper thin, yet pleasing plot. Arnie is John Matrix, a retired elite commando who has only a few hours to rescue his daughter Jenny (a young Alyssa Milano) from an exiled dictator played by Dan Hedaya.

The cast are perfect for this genre and include Predtor’s Bill Duke and Vernon Wells in his best role as Matrix’s adversary Bennett. Striking Rae Dawn Chong is Matirix’s reluctant sidekick and has some amusing lines. And David Patrick Kelly plays a memorable role as the slippery bad guy Sully. Despite some filming and editing goofs, it’s a well-constructed film, Lester’s locations and sets, day and night shoots are worthy of note. James Horner accompanying score is excellent, with its catchy tune, horns and xylophone.

Genuinely funny, Arnold takes one liners quips to a new level thanks to Steven E. de Souza, screenplay. The body count is high and although far-fetched, for example, Arnold carrying a lot of muscle and firepower takes on a small army of extras, he is simply fascinating. With some remarkable practical stunts, brawl scenes, knife fights, car chases and plenty of shooting, Commando has everything an action film should have.

Over all it’s great action fun and as soon as Arnie picks up that first weapon you know, “Somewhere, somehow, someone’s going to pay.”

20th Century Fox hit gold with 1987 The Predator…

I don’t usually use the word cool but in 1987 that’s what the Predator was; sleeker and more equipped than any other E.T that had been seen before. The movie and its sequel lead to an array of spin offs, good and bad novel’s, comic book’s, toys and video games. I’ve chosen to include the Alien vs. Predator films that combine, with no surprise, the Alien creatures from the Alien film series. Here are my comments on the Predator feature films…

Predator (1987)

A team of commandos find themselves hunted by an extra-terrestrial hunter… John McTiernan directs the perfect cast including the likes of Carl Weathers, Bill Duke and Jesse Ventura who are just right in this action orientated alien film. Arnold Schwarzenegger is armed with some great one liners but packs in a good performance with some subtler moments. Apart from The Thing like shot at the very beginning, it’s and original piece that deservedly started a franchise.

To be picky only some of the editing and effects let the film down. Those aside, the music by Alan Silvestri is fitting with it jungle beats building up apprehension and suspense throughout the film. This film could have easy fallen into B movie territory, but the great Cinematography, creature effects and costume design keep it grounded.

The film builds up in true monster fashion by holding back the Predator’s reveal. Not since Alien has there been such hand iconic creature which Kevin Peter Hall wonderfully brings to life. John McTiernan notches up the tension in the final showdown and writers Jim Thomas & John Thomas give us a brave bold ending.

One of the most enjoyable rounded sci-fi films ever.

Predator 2 (1990)

The Predator is the star of this troubled sequel with its array of weapons a spear, pincers, Frisbee blade and net.

With editing re-cuts, budget issues and no Arnold Schwarzenegger its not all bad. The lead rogue cop played by Danny Glover and alien expert Gary Busey are fine. While the story is entertaining and there are some nice idea’s scenes and set pieces, setting it in the then future of 1997 was unnecessary and its credibility suffers. The film is let down further by the almost comical overacting sub-characters and it losses the semi-realism of the first.

It’s packed with Predator action graphic decapitations, shootings and mutilated bodies. The practical effects, accessories and costumes from Stan Winston look great, and Kevin Peter Hall as the Predator is once again out of this world. The music score is excellent and carries the same themes from the first, as to are the sound effects.

For fans an Alien skull show up on the wall of the Predator’s trophy room (to entice an AVP) and a tremendous thought provoking ending. Stephen Hopkins gives an enjoyable sci-fi but the film just let down by it’s Verhoevenesque future, hammy acting and over-the-top stereotypes.

There’s very little that is subtle in the 108 minutes, still its Predator and you can’t help but like it.

AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004)

It shouldn’t have been mixed, Paul W.S. Anderson’s AVP: Alien vs. Predator was more so unjustly panned by critics and fans due to the hype and anticipation. It has the feeling of an Alien film, a great premise, stunning cinematography, some amazing effects and a fine score.

Paul W.S. Anderson is successful in bringing the franchises together, respecting ideas from both Alien and Predator movies. I haven’t seen a bad film that he’s made and I’m not sure why there is such a geek gang hatred against the mans work. The ever-improving Uwe Boll he is not!

The strong leads include Sanaa Lathan as the heroine and Raoul Bova,, however unfortunately actors Carsten Norgaard as Rusten Quinn and Tommy Flanagan as Mark Verheiden are killed off far too early. Overall the acting is good, Lance Henrikson show up as the ‘real’ Bishop but some of the characters lack development and the editing feels choppy in places.

The Predators and Aliens look great apart from some badly executed CGI. It not Ridley Scott or John McTiernan, but Paul Anderson pulls off the almost impossible task of putting these to aliens together on screen.

If there was not an Alien or Predator film prior to this it may have been haled as a science fiction adventure classic, but alas that’s not the case.

AVPR: Aliens vs Predator – Requiem (2007)

 Every day folk in a sleepy town get caught up in a fight for survival when a crashed spaceship releases Aliens on earth and a Predator is dispatch to clean up the mess.

It was always clear that the franchises should never have been mixed. Nevertheless, they’re here to stay and I have to say, even with their faults, their not too bad. Overall, AVRP appears have less CGI and more practical effects which is a good thing. There are plenty of nods to both Alien and the Predator movies, and the focus is more on the Predator in this instalment.

Shane Salerno’s story is fine but the script isn’t meaty and the characters are not gritty enough, the acting isn’t bad but it’s the clunky teen driven segments of script that bogs the cast and viewer down. Steven Pasquale is a strong enough lead, John Ortiz is not given much to do and limited screen time. Ariel Gade is a good enough actress but too reminiscent of Ripley’s character. The rest are a miss-mash bag of collective stereotypes.That said, there are enough set pieces and surprises to keep you entertained until the rushed ending.

At times the music distracting as it uses memorable themes from both series. Also there far too much shaky and dark camera work and you feel as if you’re not getting to see enough. Credit to directors Colin Strause and Greg Strause both Predator and Alien look fantastic and it’s nice to see that the film is more adult orientated.

Overall, the movie fails to satisfy.

 

Predators (2010)

Predators has been a long-time in coming, and any quality Predator film is a welcomed addition in my book. The story is that of a group of elite humans are hunted by members of a merciless alien race.

Things looked extremely positive with Robert Rodriguez as one of the producers with the excellent and talented director of Vacancy Nimród Antal at the helm. However, Predators really feels like a remake of the first film. Which isn’t a bad thing, however, there are just too many unnecessary on liners from the franchise which at times is distracting. The kills are too fast and there are other problems… Predators seems rushed, appears choppy and there’s just no characters you want to care for, they don’t have to be likable but you still want someone you root for.

There’s too much effort to put in new things like the bigger species Predators to excite the audience. The screen-play the actors have to work with is bland and lacks depth. That said the costume, set design , locations and effects are mouthwatering, it’s an atmospheric sci-fi complimented by John Debney’s reworking of the original score and fantastic sound effects.

The actors are first-class, notably new comer Alice Braga performance as Isabella. Broday carries the weight of the film and cult actor Danny Trejo puts in an appearance. ‘Arnie’ like Oleg Taktarov and Mahershalalhashbaz Ali stand-out. Sadly, Laurence Fishburne is wasted and Topher Grace is just out of place as a doctor who doesn’t tend to anyone. Nevertheless, the story is great and it nice to see the old style Predator in there played by Derek Mears of the Friday the 13th remake.

All in all it’s a good film but just isn’t great, let’s hope a sequel corrects this.

That’s all folks…