Friday, September 26, 2014

Predator 2 (1990)

You'd think it would be really easy to make a Predator sequel. I mean, the first one wasn't exactly the stuff of geniuses – you take a bunch of musclebound meatheads, stick 'em in the jungle and watch them get killed off by a sometimes-invisible alien. I had never seen this one, so I was like, oh, it'll probably be more or less the same, right? Right?



Director: Stephen Hopkins
Starring: Danny Glover, Gary Busey

We start this one off with some news reports detailing the dystopian future we all have to look forward to: in 1997, apparently voodoo gang members rule Los Angeles and the police are helpless to stop the constant gunfire and gang warring going on. You read that right, yes – voodoo gang members.

I...just can't even comprehend what kind of bungled thought process went into THAT one – hey, let's make a predator sequel! Cool, what ideas do you have? Well, I thought I'd add in some voodoo gang members in a dystopian future landscape to really exemplify what the Predator is all about and...hey, why are you running for the door? Come back!

Well that's what should've happened. Also, yes, 1997. I do remember the violent gang wars that ruined LA at that time – what a fiasco. And to think all we have to worry about these days are lesser issues like ISIS and the economy and shit. We have it easy!

So apparently our main character is Danny Glover, playing a horrible actor. Or is that not a role at all? There isn't a lot to say about the first twenty minutes or so, as much of it is just a haphazard dive into gratuitous shooting and violence. This isn't necessarily bad, but it's tough to get invested in a film that doesn't seem to give two shits about actually introducing you to any of its characters in the least – instead it's just “Hey! Look at how much violent shit we can put in!”

The gunfire and the cars getting blown up have more character development than the actual characters.

Although there is one guy who we'll rememeber, though mostly for cocaine induced reasons:

Well that's how everyone on set got through making this thing, anyway.

This whole thing goes to shit when the Predator shows up and slaughters most of the gang members. The last guy, Mr. Cocaine over there, is left to jump off a building when he sees the Predator coming for him. This surprises exactly nobody until they notice the little detail of the one other guy in the building who was randomly chosen to be strung up like cattle with his heart cut out.

One of Glover's guys, Danny, goes off by himself and ends up getting killed. Glover gets shit for messing up the operation back at the base, because they weren't supposed to go in the building at all, and apparently he has a history of not obeying orders.

Astonishing; a movie cop that doesn't obey orders? What's next, a hot chick that needs to be saved from a villain twirling a mustache? Whatever will you do next to buck the system and fight against cliché, movie? I'm just on the edge of my seat.

We also get introduced to some other characters, like Gary Busey playing some hard ass special ops guy trying to take over this whole thing as his own. But really his job just seems to be showing off that gap between his front teeth.

Then there's Bill Paxton, who loves to tell wacky stories at crime scenes, because that's how a good cop acts, you know. This character is a constant annoyance on screen and there's really nothing about him that I enjoy.

While that's going on, the Predator is busy killing off a bunch of the Voodoo gang members in some condominium. The cops come and investigate, finding a little spearhead thingy, which Glover and his sidekicks take to some white-haired scientist lady who I think has been locked in a room for seven years with no way out:

Hi, character invented for no purpose but to dole out exposition like a Blackjack dealer!

The lady looks at the spearhead, proclaims she's completely baffled by it because it has no metals known to the periodic table, then just shrugs and lets the cops take it out with them again. You know, no point in actually researching that shit; just let them take it out with them and never bring it up again, like any good scientist is wont to do. Brilliant work, lady.

Then we get more action when a bunch of guys on some train are harassing some women when the entire train whips out guns, because this whole thing is really just the NRA's wet dream fantasy:

The Predator was apparently just waiting for this opportunity, as he comes down and slaughters most of the people on the train. The cops get there, and we see the movie's fetish for scenes where people wander around in the dark for a while before something jumps out and scares them, which is NEVER something overdone in these kinds of movies!

Run! The Invisible Man has gone INSANE!

Fortunately Paxton gets killed off in this scene, which raises the movie up a notch for me personally, as I was about to claw out my own ear drums if I had to listen to another scene of him telling jokes in the middle of a crime scene.


Like clockwork, Glover gets chewed out back at the station and it's revealed he has a history of being psychologically unstable and violent, yet has been on the force for a jawdropping 18 YEARS. Are you shitting me? In the real world he would have been fired and then gone through rehab twice in that time! 18 years? Were they really that short on people? What did their other options look like?

Oh. Oh, I see. Well THAT I understand - carry on, then.

Anyway, Glover then immediately goes out and violently confronts Busey, which I'm sure will really change the higher-ups' outlook that you're some violent, crazy madman...oh wait, no, it really won't.

Oh, the guy with a history of psychotic angry breakdowns in public just did the same thing again after an 18-year career of the same shit over and over? OK, you can stay on the force.

While Glover is visiting his buddy's grave, the Predator stalks him because he has that arrowhead thing, or something like that – this scene is just an excuse for the Predator to have a scene where he runs into a little boy with a gun. C'mon; are we really that bereft for ideas that we're putting a “monster runs into little kid” scene in this shit? Is that the level we've stooped to?

Be careful, kid; you could get expelled from school for having a toy gun these days. Gotta appease the overreaction culture!

Then we get an interminable number of fight scenes which pretty much go like this: people wander around in the dark, then the Predator reveals itself, and we get a decent splurt of actual action. These scenes aren't bad, but they certainly aren't good enough to rival the intensity of the first film. I guess the most pressing thing going on is that Busey and his Special Ops idiots have figured out how to detect the Predator with some kind of thermonuclear detector or something.

Great! How will that wo---oh, I forgot, having any characters be competent would just be silly. Instead the losers and fuckups are the only ones who can survive in a movie like this!

He died as he lived, with his mouth open.

Glover and the Predator have a showdown where Glover takes off his mask and the Predator does his whole "repeat a line from earlier in the movie" thing like in the first one. Only unlike that movie, this time it's a really dumb, lame line that mostly embarrasses me for the makers of this movie. Are you ready for this? The Predator, this ultra badass alien super-warrior, utters this line: "Shit happens!"

Fuckin' seriously? THAT was the best you could come up with, writers? "Shit happens" was the summation of your creative wit? On the one hand, it doesn't even make sense; how does that have anything to do with the situation at hand? On the other, at least it kinda sums up the making of this movie. Shit does happen. As is quite evident here.

You'd think THIS would be the end of the movie, but no, there's still 30 minutes left. 30 minutes? How? What more do you really have to do with this story? Are we going to have the all-important scene where the Predator talks to his therapist about how his mother never loved him and that's why he turns invisible and kills people on other planets?

What about the scene where the Predator helps his best buddy set up a wedding reception? Is that one included?

I'm just asking out of curiosity, as really, this thing is dragging on like a party thrown by your great aunt where she tries to get you to play Parcheesi with your redneck hick cousins who you haven't seen since you were in diapers because oh, it'll be like the old days, except she ignores the crushing reality that the reason you haven't come over in a decade and a half is exactly because of this, and because she also sneaks in snide racist comments she doesn't realize are outdated and kind of offensive and you just don't want to get mixed up in that kind of thing anymore, so you just stick to calling her twice a year on Christmas and birthdays from now on.

What? Oh, where was I? Oh yeah. 30 minutes left after all this? Nobody was around in the editing room nodding off to sleep going “hey, maybe we need to cut this thing down by at least 20 minutes”? I mean that's really all you're doing at this point – creating a cure for insomnia.

But hey, it's not all a loss...we do get the scene where he scares an old lady in the bathroom.

The Predator tries heroin...his experimental days...
In the alternate ending, the Predator is killed by an old lady with a broom. This ending was eventually rejected after test audiences thought it was too realistic.

Because yes, this movie was so desperate it needed to include both the 'little kid' cliché AND the 'old lady' cliché just to show how lighthearted and goofy it really is with its monster movie concept. That's fuckin' astonishing, the level of pandering here.

Then somehow Glover slides down an elevator cable and finds a spaceship with an inside that I think was decorated by the crew from Big Trouble in Little China.

Except Kurt Russell could have made this movie awesome. Seriously; who thought replacing Arnold Schwarzennegger with Danny Glover and Gary Busey was a good idea anyway?

Glover fights the Predator and somehow beats it down, but then a bunch of its buddies pop out of thin air and carry him away. But not before tossing Glover a gun from the 1700s for no reason whatsoever!

What the hell was that about? I have no clue. I guess they intended to have a sequel to this thing, but obviously after 24 years that isn't happening.

And why should it? This thing is just a mess. There are some goofy fun moments, and not all of it is bad, but for the most part it's too long, the characters are annoying, there are a bunch of cliches and the story is just kind of a mess – the Predator mostly just seems like he's stumbling around aimlessly, and what is he even doing in this setting? I get wanting to change things up from the first film, but this just seems like some entirely different movie, some sort of dystopian gang-war thing like a discount The Warriors, with the Predator thrown haphazardly into the middle. Half the time he just seems like he's confused, as he doesn't have much purpose or direction in this movie and just pops up wherever.

There's no consistency to this thing and with a near two-hour runtime, it gets tiresome by the end, real fast. I guess I can see why some people like it, but really to me it is just an overly long, ridiculous bore for the most part. I guess you could do worse though. You know, the best thing you can say about any movie!

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