The Predator – Teaser Trailer

What is it with the Alien and Predator franchises?

It almost feels like they’re being deliberately sabotaged (few other things can explain why Ridley Scott is so intent on undermining a series he himself helped to create) by some really bizarre decisions on the part of the people directing them, and it’s a pity.

In the case of the Predator, the problems started with 1990’s Predator 2 (the great idea of a Predator movie in the vein of Paul Verhoeven’s Robocop undermined by Stephen Hopkins paint-by-numbers direction and a weak script) and have pretty much continued to varying degrees since that time.

Though I had assumed that the Predator franchise had bottomed out with 2007’s Aliens Vs. Predator: Requiem.

And apparently I was wrong because despite being co-written and directed by the undeniably talented Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Iron Man 3) the upcoming The Predator looks to continue the time-honored idea of mixing lots of bad ideas with one or two half-decent ones.

For instance, the idea that the predators are using the DNA from the creatures on the planets they visit to make themselves even deadlier?  Great idea and probably the best addition to the franchise in many Hunter’s moons.

The idea that a little kid discovers a model (!?) of a Predator craft that somehow manages to (apparently) control an actual Predator spacecraft!?

Dumb beyond belief (on the face of it, at any rate).

Then there’s the idea of the movie taking place in Small Town, U.S.A., an idea that didn’t do AVPR ANY favors, so why not do it again?

As I said earlier, Shane Black is a damn talented writer and director, but I get the feeling he’s screwed the pooch on this one.

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Postmortem: Robocop (2014)

RoboCopI caught the reboot of Robocop in theaters, and recall at the time thinking that it was a bit weak, especially compared to the original film. That being said, having watched it again my first impression was confirmed, namely that it’s not as as engaging or as fun as the1987 Paul Verhoeven movie.  And speaking of Verhoeven’s film, a lot of the credit goes to its rating, which was a well-deserved R. While Robocop’s most recent build is PG-13, which means that it can’t be seen by anyone under 13 years of age without a parent or guardian. So it should go without saying that none of the delightfully gratuitous violence that graced the original will be anywhere near the reboot. And it suffers for it, though it also lacks the gonzo tone of the first movie.  Luckily, some of the central themes (the privatization of public utilities, such as the police, where the man begins, and machine ends, etc) remain intact, though often not quite as clearly defined as in the first movie (the heads of Omnicorp–as opposed to Omni Consumer Products in the original–in the reboot aren’t necessarily evil more than greedy, while their counterparts in the original film gave the phrase ‘severance package’ an entirely new meaning). That being said, the reboot does have some advantages that the first film doesn’t.

One being that the reboot looks more cinematic, somehow bigger and more ambitious–considering that the original cost $13 million to produce, while the reboot cost $100 million, it aught to look better (even in 1980’s dollars).  Considering how attractive the movie is, it looks like money well-spent.  It also takes advantage of the latest in CGI and motion capture technologies, techniques which weren’t available when the original film was made. Another thing is that the chemistry between the main actors is significantly better this time around.  In reference to the original the relationship between Murphy (Peter Weller) and Officer Anne Lewis (Nancy Allen) was serviceable, but never particularly convincing, while that between 2014’s Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) and Jack Lewis (Michael B. Williams) has much more in the way of camaraderie and comfort with each other, which is apparent on screen.

So if you go into Robocop (2014) and expecting the excesses of the original film–as I did when I first saw it–you’re going to be Robocop (1987)disappointed because there’re not too many directors that can beat Paul Verhoeven when it comes to over-the-top, subversive filmmaking. But if you haven’t seen the original film then José Padilha’s more conservative interpretation is actually pretty enjoyable. Robocop (1984) is currenty on Netflix

‘Monster 2: Dark Continent’ Trailer

It’s interesting how things go sometimes.  Recently in my Postmortem column I wrote about Garth Edwards’ Monsters, and a few days later learned of the existence of its sequel, Monsters 2: Dark Continent.

Edwards, being that he was more than likely working on Godzilla, was replaced as director by Tom Green.

The trailer has virtually no aliens in it till the end, and yet it still seems to have more than appeared in the first movie, though till that time the trailer looks like scenes assembled from movies like Jarhead (which interestingly enough has a sequel too, Jarhead 2: Field Of Fire) or The Hurt Locker.  At the moment I am wondering how it is that there are aliens what I assume is somewhere in Africa because the original film was based entirely on the premise that the monsters came to earth in a NASA probe that broke up over Mexico.

The creatures that turn up are also smaller, which has the effect of making the action more human-scale (though unfortunately evoking comparisons with Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers as well).

And while geography may not be my strongest suit, I am reasonably certain that that the Africa is nowhere near Mexico.

 

‘Starship Troopers: Invasion’ Review

Starship Troopers: Invasion

“Dead Eyes And All, “Starship Troopers: Invasion” Takes The Series In A Great New Direction.”

“Starship Troopers,” Paul Verhoeven’s version of Robert Heinlein’s novel, has spawned three sequels, “Starship Troopers: Hero of the Federation,” “Starship Troopers: Marauder,” and Starship Troopers: Invasion” as well as an CGI-based series, “Roughnecks: The Starship Troopers Chronicles.”

It goes without saying that Verhoeven’s original remains unsurpassed, with the sequels being hobbled by humbler ambitions (probably) brought about by smaller budgets.

Though the last film, “Starship Troopers: Invasion” is a another matter.  It’s done entirely in CGI, like ‘Roughnecks, but racier in terms of language and nudity, probably to bring it in more in line with Verhoeven’s film.

Though there are places where it’s welcome, such as when used for rendering spaceships, armor and weaponry, which look as good as anything that appeared in the original. The ‘Bugs’ are also beneficiaries of the CGI largess as well, and they look great.

The humans…not so much.  They look like the producers had only two or three types of human figure, and used skin color, hair, body type and tattoos to differentiate them. The thing is, if you really look at people, you’ll notice that it’s the combination of little differences that combine to make us appear as individuals.

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‘RoboCop’ Review

RoboCop

“RoboCop 2.0 is new, and not exactly improved, but it’s still worth the upgrade.”

I have an iPad 2, and I really liked iOS 6, and was perfectly content with it.  Soon enough, Apple came out with iOS 7, and when I upgraded I didn’t like it.  It was all shiny and colorful, but different than I was accustomed to.

That’s exactly the way felt about José Padlha’s “RoboCop” reboot:  Sure, you can do it, but why?  I like my old RoboCop just fine, thank you!

Like Apple, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer “upgraded” anyway.

Anyone who has read this blog before has probably noticed that I hate changes made just for the sake of change.

With iOS 7, once I got used to the changed appearance, I noticed that it offered certain benefits that iOS 6 didn’t.  The same thing applies to the new RoboCop.  It may not be the one that I remember, but for the most part it doesn’t feel like the changes were done just to change something (or as a cynical money grab, which is also popular with Hollywood).

You see, studio executives realize that if they reboot a popular franchise, name recognition is built-in, as is (they’d like to think) the audience.

But there’s a problem, especially when the film you’re rebooting a masterwork, which I honestly think the original film is.  It was a proudly R-rated stew of jingoism, bad taste and violence so extreme that the the original film was rated X before Paul Verhoeven cut it enough to warrant an R rating.

So when I learned of the reboot, directed by Brazilian director José Padilha (“Elite Squad”) was going to be rated PG-13, something stank.

The odor that aroused my attention must have been the laundry that’s sitting in the hamper next to my desk, because Padilha’s “RoboCop” differs from Verhoeven’s in ways that are mainly good, and the film was actually pretty enjoyable.

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New ‘Robocop’ Trailer

The “Robocop” reboot trailers are getting better.  This latest one feels more focused than the last, and while it still doesn’t appear  as insane as Paul Verhoeven‘s original, it now at least looks like it might be worth a ticket.

I just realized that Joel Kinnaman is playing Murphy/Robocop, I recall him from “The Killing,” which is an awesome bit of television.  He also does one of the best American accents that I have heard from a foreign speaker (his father is American and his mother is Swedish and while Kinnaman holds dual citizenship, he was born in Sweden).

Samuel Jackson is, of course, Samuel Jackson, which is to say larger than life, though if the trailers any indicator, he’s being underused.  I also can’t tell if he’s the head of OCP (Omni Consumer Products) or just a spokesman.  Though, if Jackson is running OCP, it stands to reason that Michael Keaton is playing the role that was originated by Miguel Ferrer.

‘RoboCop’ Trailer

That was quick.  Thanks to Rafael Dominguez Estrada, who found this on Youtube, despite me having looked for it earlier.  The trailer in and of itself looks OK, but the major league actors (Samuel Jackson and Gary Oldman) that look to be playing somewhat “minor” roles reminds me of Christopher Nolan’s casting of Michael Caine as Alfred in his Batman films.

Which has always struck me as odd because I am sure that there’s someone else not quite as established as any of those actors that could really use the break.

I also didn’t see any hint of the trademark violence – or the snarkiness – of the Paul Verhoeven original, which isn’t a good thing.