Archive for September, 2012

MOVIE REVIEW: Predators

Posted: September 26, 2012 in Movies
Tags: , , , ,

The scope? Oh its mostly just there to support my cheek.

I liked the old Predator movie with Schwarzenegger. It was quite novel. An intelligent alien with mostly alien motivations hunting the best of humanity’s own ‘hunters’. It was suspenseful and appealed to me far more than some overpowered jerk hunting screaming, helpless teens (as per most every horror movie).
It was entertaining and I was able to empathize with both hero and villain to a point. At least, I could understand where the villain was coming from.

In Predators (what I consider the official sequel) we see Adrian Brody as the grim, practical black ops man, Danny Trejo as a Los Zetas Mexican cartel enforcer, (genuine Russian!) Oleg Taktarov as a SPETZNAZ soldier (something that I praise in cinema — a lack of authenticity leads to terrible attempts at the language. I’m glaring at you Hunt for Red October), Alice Braga as an Israeli Defense Force sniper, Mahershalalhashbaz Ali as an RUF (Revolutionary United Front) militant, Walton Goggins as the violent racist convict, Topher Grace as ‘a doctor’, Louis Ozawa Chanchien as a Yakuza  mobster and Laurence Fishburne as Airborne Cavalry……..along with a few already-dead-when-we-got-there US SF and Ranger folks, which I guess they omitted from the on-screen action due to the last movie being almost exclusively about them but still left their remains in for posterity.

In other words it is the sort of broad collection of earth’s killers that you could see an alien who doesn’t quite understand our society view as a valid choice for opponents. Basically: get one from everywhere. The same sort of solution I can see myself making if I was to interact with a foreign environment and made to collect samples. It makes sense, in that ‘outside perspective’ sort of way and adds to the authenticity to the aliens’ motivations.

Other highlights include: SPOILERS!

I believe the expression is: ‘Jolly well Fucked’.

We get to see a great deal more of the Predators’ societal hierarchy which is very interesting to someone who follows the stories (as I do). Its done well, I think.
I like the traps the Predators set and the Russian goes out with a glorious BANG, bringing down what seems to be the random brute of the alien hunter trio.
Oh and there is an extremely epic and much-appreciated Yakuza samurai vs ‘stealthy scout’ alien sword-fight in a gentle field of tall grass.

From a feminist perspective, I greatly enjoyed seeing the female IDF soldier picked among the worlds best fighters (played by the ever lovely Alice Braga), but while I’m pretty sure she got the most dialogue, it was the strong and silent guy that ultimately led the pack and played the main protagonist. Thats…okay, I suppose.
Still, she is just one woman among eight human dudes making this a sausage-fest, or as I like to call it: a brodeo. She plays a predictably compassionate but ultimately ‘strong female’ role. I don’t mind that she is the ‘softie’ of the group. She is certainly not the most manipulative or physically weak. What she is, however is emotionally kind–which isn’t so much a fault as an expected characteristic — the sort of person that cares about the cohesion of the group. She is a textbook military ‘leader’ (like one would expect of a ROTC graduate). That is admirable and allows for some femininity without compromising her reliability. Thats nice.

However, in the end she (the IDF soldier) has to be rescued by the male hero due to her overwhelming sense of camaraderie and kindness. Not a physical failure mind you (which I find a slight improvement over the usual fare) but simply because she was a decent (if slightly illogical) person. And while she is disabled it is the hero that does the fighting with the head badguy. And although she returns the favor of saving him with a last-second gunshot, it is ultimately still the male hero that lands the killing blow.
Disappointing.
It would have almost been better if the female protagonist had just died of her wounds at the end. It would have made it less sappy.
Still, while there is a slight romantic undertone to Braga and Brody’s interaction in the end, it is not terribly overt and is mostly speculative (plus they were too fucked up to make out at the end anyway)–so points for not shooting for a total cliche.

One thing that is a greatly redeeming feature, is that the ‘serial killer’ of the group isn’t up against frightened teenage children running around a dorm or lake-house. The serial killer is up against competent people. This is absurdly rewarding for me, because I have a serious problem finding the token ‘horror movie’ compelling when I can’t metaspacially occupy the hero or even relate to their actions. So while in those movies the hero(s) spend half a movie running around like frightened morons and get picked off one by one —
I. Am. Bored.
With this movie, the badguys are compellingly intelligent (in their way) and so are the heroes (in their own way). Therefore when the human serial killer character tries his usual shit, the hero’s actions are something I can internally smile at and say “Well done!”
“Way to not be a stupid shit.”
“I am going to go and write a positive review for this film!”

All she really needed was a good whoopin’ to set her straight, but I’m a Man’s Man so I always go the ‘extra mile’!

Okay so this has been bugging me for some time now. And by ‘bugging’ I mean it makes me both enraged (as misogyny does) and confused at the same time (does the word ‘incredulous’ fit here?).

Be it due to the same cultural problem that I am referring to or not, consensual sadomasochism is perfectly fucking fine (not that you need my approval). Whatever works.
I understand BDSM lifestyles. I understand S&M kink. I understand role-play. I understand that no relationship is truly 50/50 and there will always be a ‘dominant’ and a ‘submissive’ role to fill to some extent and that those roles can shift.

I even understand being indoctrinated to love your own oppression or to find justifications to enjoy privilege at the expense and suffering of others.

That last one is what I am taking issue with here. A prevalent, culturally encouraged attitude that men and some women seem to find appropriate: treating the woman like a kid. EG: punishing a woman with humiliating beatings using a belt or spankings (again not the play kind) and deprivation of things/privileges within a relationship (further ingraining they are all indeed things the man has power over).

Essentially, this ‘women are dipshit children’ mentality validates emotionally bringing women down or physically punish them. And the woman has been indoctrinated to accept this via her coy, unobtrusive, unassertive, submissive conditioning. After all,’Its for her own good!’, the man is always right and as a Man’s Man you need to ‘Teach’ her whether she likes it or not. If you never domesticate and break in a horse it will never know how you like to ride, right? Its for the horse’s own good, really. “Man Up!” and teach that bitch!

If via this mentality a woman is so dense that she can’t decide what is good and right for herself, than is that a good excuse for raping her? I mean, its not like she ‘knows’ what she wants. That’s what you – a man! – is there for! I bet to ‘dudes’ who follow this logic it makes perfect sense.

I hope I am making myself clear, because I am thoroughly confused by this shit. It seems that to people who think like this (again men and women who have been taught overtly or conditioned thorough their upbringing) believe that men are the ‘adults’ and women are like little kids who need to be held by the hand and sternly ‘raised’ into domestic servitude lest they stray into…I don’t know, temptation? Education? Existentialism? Basically the premise is that the woman is so fucking feeble minded that she NEEDS a man to beat/punish her into doing the ‘right’ thing. It goes right hand in left hand with the idea of ownership in romantic relationships and fits snugly into the even more culturally acceptable expectation of the male/female = dominant/submissive construct.

Yay! Coffee! Wait, WTF is this shit!?

What I do not understand is how if the philosophy of the woman literally being treated like an ignorant child is something that is socially acceptable how it can be just as socially acceptable to then have romantic relations with her. In other words, its illegal to have sex with kids, but it is a-okay to FUCK a woman you treat like a child? What the fuck is this shit and how do people rationalize it without overtly admitting inclinations toward pedophilia!? (And what the hell is up with nicknames like “Baby”, “Doll”, “Shorty”, “Gurl”, “Little one” etc, all clearly infantile references and predominantly used toward females by perspective intimate partners–what kind of jacked up mentality does that propagate?)

Obviously in my rush to get to the point I’ve skipped over some things so let me backtrack and clarify that treating a woman like shit/property/imbecile/abusing her in the first place (or your kids for that matter) is not at all okay or ‘normal’ no matter how your backwards, profligate ass was brought up. In fact if you are actively participating in those actions outside of consent than you or society/parents/religion etc have already brainwashed that sentient being you are abusing to not effectively resist you which makes you less a ‘man’s man’ and more a ‘degenerate knuckle-dragger punk ass bitch’.

We are all shaped by our environments. It is inevitable. If a child-soldier forced to violence can later in life be free to choose to do great good in the world than what kind of nature vs nurture argument can someone harming another sentient being for pleasure make to justify or excuse their actions? Fuck all thats what.

I hope I have drawn the clear difference between a sexually different-from-the-norm lifestyle and socially complacent domestic violence; I am scrutinizing the obscenely cheerful popular acceptance of the latter as ‘the norm’. Treating women like children is only slightly below the trope of a woman’s place being in the kitchen or ‘teaching’ her a lesson or taking care of/having kids as some garbage ‘biological imperative’. No. We are sentient beings. We have Choice. This is but a thoroughly ingrained (and disgusting) social construct.
It is NOT healthy. It is NOT normal. It is not natural. It is BULLSHIT.

This movie stars Morpheus as Morpheus being Morpheus

Other critics seem to dislike this film due in large part to some bizarre, puritan fealty to previous works. A fealty that I all too often share. Allow me to extrapolate:

I have, on more than one occasion, griped at the evils of both remakes and unnecessary sequels. In fact, it is safe to say that is a movie pet peeve of mine. Now, perhaps my not seeing the original movie before this has something to do with the ‘why’ of me not being in that camp this time around. And it may well be hypocritical of me to judge them when (as I have just said) I also jump down the throats of remakes/sequels.

Than again; No. No its not hypocritical. It is one thing to judge something great made a-new with a critical eye, it is another level of pedantic altogether to disregard that work based solely on puritan sentiment. The difference, in other words, is that while I share an inherent distaste for remakes/sequels, I–unlike these critics–was not blind to the merits of this remake in its own right as a movie unto itself. (Don’t worry, critics. Nobody is perfect. Except me. Especially me. Seriously: Me!)

Okay, first things I did not like.
The Con: Good guys repeatedly thumb back the hammer and clear their weapons’ chambers for no damn reason (as action flicks are wont to do despite all logic prevailing to the contrary). This kind of miffs (is that a word? Miffs?) the harsh, realistic, yet action movie-ish badassness the film tries to set with all its emphasis on tactical movement. Speaking of tactical movement: its the badguys in the tactical gear, moving tactically, with tactical weapons and being utterly tactically inept.
(Spoilers, obviously)

The bad guys are inept. Big shock, right? But its not so much the aim that I am talking about (they dispose of disposable characters with Borg-like efficiency *holds breath for the reference applause*). I mean the actual tactical movement of these ‘tactical teams’ the bad guys utilize. Now, I’m not going to quote a military background and then rail about how realism is not a pervasive element in today’s modern cinematic vision, but if you are going to try and make the audience ‘wow!’ at how cool the badguys are with all their nifty gear, than how about delivering on a little bit of competence along with the use of that gear, you know?

The good guys are out numbered, short on weaponry and surrounded, but at least they are in a fortified position. So it is totally believable that the attackers are going to lose people. But that is where the benefit of having a TRUCK LOAD of goons comes in handy. Like every villain before them, the baddies come at the heroes in ones or ‘tactical twoes’…which is RETARDED and besides thinning their own ranks only serves to give the defenders some much needed weaponry.

But hey, at least the badguys don’t miss very often and by the grace of all the gods on Olympus they refrain from monologuing too and just headshot the good guys. YES! Thank you! Way to set a henchman example! A+! (okay minus for the attacking one at a time thing).

The Pro:
Again, no monologuing badguys and reasonable hit-miss ratio (by Hollywood badguy standards anyway). Thats impressive!
The throwaway characters are actually fleshed to a degree that makes them ‘real’ and therefore memorable.
The acting of the cast is most excellent.
And finally, the best thing:
The female characters are actually competent. I, a dominant male, tend to find action films boring to the extreme when they come tethered to the trope of the helpless/idiot female protagonist tag-along. This movie has no (absolutely ZERO) weak female characters–conventional or other ways.
(Major Spoilers)
One would suppose the sexually inclined, fire-arm trained cop secretary would be the token fem badass of the group, but no. In fact there are two more of much more prominent note. The first (and less surprising than the latter) is the allegedly falsely imprisoned lady of many talents: she can effectively shoot a tommy gun and hotwire a car under stressful conditions. Great! The second is a cowardly and physically inept psychologist who stifles more than overcomes her (reasonable) fear of being murdered and stares the badguys defiantly in the face before he coldly executes her.
The fact that she died only adds to her strength as a character and the depth of this movie as a piece of good cinema–one does not expect the overt love-interest (indeed, only real love interest) to be killed midway through the film. It is not so much a shock value effect as it is an effective attempt at jarring realism (from an action movie!). Also, this is good from a feminist perspective because she is a strong person unto herself and not just a thing put there to be ‘saved’. She is not a token ‘tough chick’ yet can still die and/or be heroic just as surely as her male counterparts. Thats PROGRESS folks!

Conclusion: It is a wholesome movie, thoroughly appealing to the refined pallet looking for a solid action movie. Also, it has MORPHEUS!