Directed by: Nimrod Antal
Written by: Alex Litvak and Michael Finch
Starring: Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, Alice Braga, Walton Goggins, Oleg Taktarov, Laurence Fishburne, Danny Trejo, Louis Ozawa Changchien, Mahershalalhashbaz Ali
Predators is a movie that hates surprises. It teases the viewer with mysteries and potential twists only to explain them away minutes later, ensuring that both the characters onscreen and the audience know exactly what’s coming next.
Consider the opening scenes, perhaps the most original element of the film. The first shot is of an unconscious Adrien Brody in freefall. He comes to, panics, and then his automated parachute opens just before he crashes into the trees. One by one he encounters the other humans, fresh from their own drop from the sky. When they find a broken corpse smashed on the jungle floor, he helpfully surmises, “Looks like his parachute didn’t open.” You think?
Much of Predators can be traced back to 1987’s Predator. The premise is identical: armed humans are trapped in the wilderness and hunted by unnamed, technologically-advanced aliens. Yet Predators continues to hammer the similarities home. One man carries a giant mini-gun just like Jesse Ventura did in the first film. One man stops running from the Predators and decides to face them head-on just like Sonny Landham, taking off his shirt in case the reference wasn’t clear enough. Other tricks from Predator makes an unexplained appearance late in the film. Even the music is the same, right down to Little Richard.
Of all the elements that come together to make a film special, sound is perhaps the most underrated of all. When motion pictures leapt from silent movies to “talkies” in the 1920s, the medium was fundamentally changed forever – far more so than any innovation since.
The History of the Typewriter recited by Michael Winslow is a short film that is, ostensibly, nothing but sound. Director Ignacio Uriarte had actor/comedian Michael Winslow sit in a studio and imitate the sound of a century’s worth of typewriters. Aside from the names of the models flashing across the screen, there are no words or dialogue. We never see or hear the typewriters in question. Indeed, there is nothing seen or heard in the movie that is not Mr. Winslow, save for a microphone or two.
Posted by Daniel on June 16th, 2010 Filed under: Features
This year, the summer movie season is off to a slow start. How slow? So slow there’s talk of rethinking the sequel-heavy approach Hollywood has famously embraced (though not everyone is buying the story). Of course, slump or no slump, it seems like we go through this every summer. As sure as the mercury in the thermometer rises, movie critics and fans take to the internet and decry the number of sequels playing at the multiplex. One man last week took it upon himself to launch a protest against remakes and reboots. Audiences, it would seem, are sick to death of rehashed stories and endless reiterations of the same characters/situations.
Except they’re not. Nor have they been, nor will they ever be.
Posted by Daniel on June 2nd, 2010 Filed under: Features
“Hollywood is crazy. The Last Samurai starring Tom Cruise? He’s the last samurai? Give me a break. That movie was offensive. I mean, Hollywood is crazy. First they had The Mexican with Brad Pitt and now they have The Last Samurai with Tom Cruise. Well I’ve written a film, maybe they’ll produce my film: The Last Nigga on Earth starring Tom Hanks.” — Comedian Paul Mooney discussing movies on Chappelle’s Show
When it comes to casting, Hollywood has a problem. It’s a very old problem and much progress has been made over the years, but the matter is anything but solved. The practice of using white actors over and over again in non-white roles is an insult to audiences around the world.
The recent release of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010) starring Jake Gyllenhaal is but the latest frustrating example of so-called “whitewashing”, where a role clearly intended for a person of color is given to a white man. In this particular case, both the lead male and female roles have been taken by white actors despite Prince of Persia taking place in, you guessed it, Persia.