Saturday, December 5, 2009

Movies! - "The door swings both ways."

I must shamefully admit that I saw Predator 2 before ever seeing the original. I'm not entirely sure why I missed the first one. I didn't go to a lot of movies while in middle school, and my parents didn't have cable until I was in high school - and we never had premium cable. (And in all honesty, I don't really feel like I was necessarily missing out.) By the time the second one came out, I had a job and a car, so I was able to see a lot more that I wanted to see. I guess this one had my interest because I was getting interested in the comics. (In this case, the comics are based on the movies and not the other way around like it tends to be nowadays.)

I remember trying to talk about it with a couple of guys while I was working at Safeway. They made fun of me for even seeing it. After all, it didn't have Arnold Schwarzenegger in it. What's the point? I told them that the whole conceit (okay, I probably didn't use that word at 16) behind the Predators is that each one picks its own target. "Dutch" defeated the one that came after him. In other words, the "Predator" was not in reference to Schwarzenegger's character but to the man-hunting alien. My logic did not impress them, and they made jokes about how Danny Glover would star in Kindergarten Cop 2.

Watching the two films now, I triumphantly say that I like Predator 2 even better than the original. Why? Is it a higher-quality film? Is it deeper? Does it resonate with characters with which one can easily empathize? Does it lack strawmen?

Oh no, I dare say that while the first one is a pretty hokey (yet still highly entertaining) movie. However, the second one is even more hokey, more ridiculous, and even more of a product of its time than the first. It's better because it's worse. In other words, it's even more good-bad. (As opposed to bad-bad, like Alien Versus Predator which was frightfully boring.)

What's so good about it? Or better yet, what's so good-bad about it?

1. Cliche City plus Predator! - Danny Glover plays Lieutenant Mike Harrigan, a no-nonsense, tough-as-nails cop who's willing to break the rules to get the job done. His boss respects him for all the good he's done, but he's tired of having to excuse his reckless behavior. Don't just believe me, check out this snippet of dialogue:
Captain Phil Heinemann: You let me down, Mike. You're making me look bad. I thought we had an understanding. I put my ass on the line to get you here, and all I expect is a little cooperation! Now you were told that this was a federal matter, yet you disobeyed a direct order to stay out of the building.
Lieutenant Mike Harrigan: Don't let this get out, Phil, but it's a fuckin' war down here.
Captain Phil Heinemann: You're a soldier, and you take orders. Now don't push it.
Lieutenant Mike Harrigan: We're fighting for our lives down there, and you're downtown pushin' pencils and kissing ass!
Yeah, Heinemann! You damned pencil-pusher! You're off YOUR case! (That's a Simpsons reference - plus twenty internets if you get it.)

Basically, Glover's character is a post-Reagan era action movie cliche. Not only that, but the movie almost feels like it's going to just go in that direction when BAM! Predator! You ask me, that's what every stale formula needs to add some life to it. Just think: Boy meets girl. Boy hates girl. Boy loves girl. Boy has misunderstanding...BAM! Predator! Crap, I'd pay double to see THAT movie!

Not only is Glover a cliche, but the movie plays on all the paranoia of the time. Crime was getting worse, and in the near future, it was only going to get even more worser! Roving gangs would roam the streets, having full-on turf wars while the innocent civilians ran for cover! Not only that, but they'd play into the most extreme ethnic stereotypes, especially those damned Jamaican gangs with their ganja and voodoo magic...umm...mon.

2. More Predator! - We get to see this particular beast do a whole lot more than the other, and we learn some more of the "rules" of the Predators. He won't shoot a kid who's simply holding a toy gun. He won't kill a pregnant lady. He can use bits and pieces of a shattered bathroom sink to create some kind of medicated balm to heal his wounds! We also get to see a lot of other predators, and we get confirmation that they do indeed hunt the aliens from the Alien franchise. This meant that there would be a super-awesome movie that would pit the two aliens against one another, right? (Wrong, actually.)

3. The Predator gets owned! - Sure, Schwarzenegger's primary qualification for being our governor is that he defeated the Predator. However, that particular beast got to activate his self-destruct sequence and wipe out a big chunk of the jungle. Harrigan lops the beast's arm off before the self-destruct can go off! He gets so much respect, that one of the elder Predators gives him a trophy - a 15th Century pistol from a long-since past Predator victim. Why Glover hasn't used this as a platform for a gubernatorial bid is beyond me.

4. Bill Paxton! Gary Busey! - 'Nuff said!

I hear that they're rebooting this particular franchise, and Robert Rodriguez is producing. Hopefully they can come up with something cool and incorporate all of the above - especially Gary Busey. Maybe he can try and convert The Predator to Christianity.
And that scares the shit out of me, kid. No one requests to come down here unless they're looking for a reputation and there's no room for showboats or anyone looking to prove himself. Now, I won't stand for it. Now don't get me wrong, we need good cops down here and they say you're good at what you do. But the team comes first. You live by that and you'll be okay, and we'll all be there for you. Remember, the door swings both ways. That's it.

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