Monday, June 26, 2006

Rumble in the Jungle

I can almost imagine the pitch session. It must have gone down something like this:

20th Century Fox Studio Brass: "Whatcha got for me?"

Jim and John Thomas (writers): "How about an action flick where an alien attacks soldiers in the jungle? Think Rambo meets Alien."

20th Century Fox Studio Brass: "Kick ass! Have it done for next summer."

The result is Predator (1987), a hybrid war/sci-fi/horror movie. The characters in this outing are paper thin, but who wants in-depth character studies when you're dealing with Schwarzenegger and a dreadlocked space creature? We are treated to stock war movie types: the squirrelly guy with thick glasses that needs to prove he's a man by telling jokes about his girlfriend's anatomy, the Native-American scout with mystical powers of perception, the commander with a cigar butt perpetually dangling from the corner of his sneer. You get the idea.

The men are recruited to go into the jungle on a rescue mission that secretly is something more. You know the drill. We've seen it done before and done better. BUT, that's not what this movie is setting out to do. After the mission is complete, the film kicks into high gear.

You see, there's something out there in the trees hunting our boys. The suspense is pretty effective as they start getting picked off one by one. In the end, the movie boils down to a one-on-one battle between Schwarzenegger and the creature.

Don't go into this one looking for any big messages and you should have fun. (Although, there may be a statement in there somewhere about new technologies in warfare.) If for nothing else, check it out for the acting debut of
Jesse Ventura. Man, these guys need to just stay out of politics! It's also interesting that the director John McTiernan's next film was Die Hard, another genre defying action movie.

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