Director: Nimrod Antal, 20th Century Fox, Rated MA, 106 mins
In this latest version of the franchise Hungarian born director Nimrod Antal (Armoured) has attempted to draw on the success of the first Predator picture made in 1987 (which starred action superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger) by incorporating a good cast, a similar musical score and replicating many of the action sequences and settings seen in the original movie.
Antal even has renowned action director Robert Rodriguez (Sin City) involved as part of his production team.
Predators has an unusual beginning with a number of people seen falling from the sky into a jungle like terrain.
None of the main characters know why they have been brought together to the isolated location.
Under the leadership of the heavily armed mercenary Royce (convincingly played by Academy Award winner Adrien Brody, The Pianist) they soon realise they have been abducted and dumped onto an alien planet - with the name of the game being survival.
Besides Royce, the other main characters include Isabelle (a powerful portrayal by Alice Braga, I Am Legend), Edwin (Topher Grace, Spiderman 3), Stans (Walton Goggins), Nikolai (Oleg Taktarov), Hanzo (Louis Ozawa Changchien), Cuchillo (Danny Trejo, Halloween) and Mombasa (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button).
Well known star of The Matrix, Laurence Fishburne, provides some comic relief as the mentally unbalanced Noland.
Antal’s story is kept simple with one primary plot which is to show how a group of people with diverse killing skills can outwit and outlast the Predators.
The film progresses as the characters discover they are the prey in an alien game where the aliens are armed with advanced weaponry, infra-red sensors and equipped with the famed camouflage devices that make them invisible.
Despite its resemblance to the original, Predators is still highly entertaining due to some fine performances from a well balanced cast.
Brody and Braga’s performances especially stand out, as do some well orchestrated action sequences between the humans and the Predators.
Overall, Antal’s production fits well within the Predator franchise.
VIC'S VERDICT: 3 ½ Rubber Stamps
The Men Who Stare at Goats
Release date: July
Director: Grant Heslov, BBC Films, Rated M, 94 mins
Ewan McGregor stars with Academy Award winners Jeff Bridges, George Clooney and Kevin Spacey in Grant Heslov’s debut production.
Released on DVD by Sony Pictures, The Men Who Stare at Goats is a black comedy about the current war in Iraq.
McGregor plays reporter Bob Wilton who comes across the story of a lifetime involving a former member of the U.S. military’s New Earth Army, a unit that employs paranormal powers in their missions.
The story is narrated by McGregor who goes on an assignment to Iraq, where he meets Lyn Cassady (Clooney), a ‘psychic’ soldier for the US government. Cassady is trained by his hippie instructor Billy Django (Bridges) to use his mind to overcome difficult military situations, with Larry Hooper (Spacey) playing the main antagonist in the story.
Although the story appears confusing at times Heslov has still managed to deliver an entertaining movie that is complemented by an excellent cast, with Bridges, Clooney and Spacey involved in a number of comical situations.
Of course, one cannot overlook the highlight of the DVD - its bonus behind-the-scenes featurette that includes interviews with the cast and crew.
VIC'S VERDICT: 3 Rubber Stamps
Release date: July
Director: John Hyams, Sony Pictures, Rated MA, 97 mins
Sony’s newly released DVD is the third in the ‘Universal Soldier’ franchise. Directed by John Hyams, the son of legendary director Peter Hyams, the movie features the return of the original ‘Universal Soldiers’ Jean Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren.
The story opens with a group of terrorists kidnapping the Russian President's children and taking over the Chernobyl power plant.
Besides their plan to blow up the plant, they have stolen the next generation Universal Soldier called the NGU (played by MMA fighter Andrei "The Pitbull" Arlovski). This results in US/Russian forces calling in their own set of Universal Soldiers, who are promptly dealt with by the NGU.
Their only hope rests with the original Universal Soldier, Luc Deveraux (Van Damme) and it is not long before the forces of evil bust out a clone of his arch nemesis, the Universal Soldier Andrew Scott (Lundgren).
Universal Soldier –Regeneration avoids the amicability and antics of its early '90s predecessor and instead adopts the bleak, grey tones of modern action movies.
Director John Hyams shows that he has got what it takes to make an interesting action movie that incorporates good action sequences.
Even though the movie appears violent at times, it is entertaining and it’s great to see Van Damme and Lundgren trading blows again.
Sony’s DVD also comes with an entertaining commentary featuring Hyams and Lundgren as well as a behind the scenes featurette with interviews of the cast and crew.
VIC'S VERDICT: 3 ½ Rubber Stamps
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