David Hines (hradzka) wrote,
David Hines

sequel double feature

Last night, I watched two sequels with my friends Ash and Denise. One was FANTASTIC FOUR: RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER. The other was PREDATOR 2.

...I am never, ever, going to knock PREDATOR 2 again.

It's hard to detail just how bad FF:ROTSS (and how appropriate is that acronym?) really is. It's not offensively bad, for the most part, but what it mostly is is *boring.* The majority of the movie is about nothing; the characters tread water between major action setpieces by indulging in poorly written efforts at comedy, often involving sight gags about Reed Richards's appendages. The last act of the scene has a little bit of comic-book awesome: the smug and boring Julian McMahon is a worse Dr. Doom than the guy who played Doom in the Roger Corman movie ("you have --" *draws number "12" in air with finger* " -- twelve hours!"), but I had to geek out a little at the idea of Dr. Doom on the Silver Surfer's board and the imagery of Johnny's combination of the FF's powers (yeah, it was ala Captain Planet, or Buffy channeling the Scoobies at the end of BTVS's disappointing fourth season, but they played it well). But it's far too little, far too late. The movie plays up Sue, which is good, because she's one of the most formidable and underappreciated characters in the entire Marvel Universe -- except, alas, she's played by Jessica Alba, a successful celebrity but an utter failure as an actress, whose chief contribution to embodying the character is her striking resemblance to the artwork of Greg Land, whose lightboxed faces are so simultaneously photorealistic and devoid of expression that to look on them is to instantly understand the theory of the "Uncanny Valley."

By contrast, PREDATOR 2 is not exactly a good movie, but it is at least a movie: the scenes develop the plot, the characters get stuff done, and even if you don't think much of the film there is no point at which you're bored. Danny Glover, who once told an interviewer that he took the role because "when was the last time you saw a black man fighting an interplanetary being?" (this was before Will Smith punched an alien in the face in INDEPENDENCE DAY, with resultant box office grosses proving that audiences had indeed yearned to see just such a thing), chews the scenery left and right, as do Bill Paxton, Maria Conchita Alonso, Gary Busey, and pretty much everyone else in the flick. This is a movie that casts Morton Downey, Jr. as a television reporter, and such is the scenery-munching that he does not seem out of place. I have seen better movies, but I've seen worse ones, too, and after FF:ROTSS it was a shining example of how to make a B-picture.

A word on cost: PREDATOR 2 had a budget of 35 million dollars. That was in 1990; in 2006 dollars, it comes to around 54 million. FF:ROTSS, by contrast, was budgeted at ONE HUNDRED THIRTY MILLION DOLLARS. The original PREDATOR cost 18 million dollars (around thirty-two million in 2006 dollars). That means that for the money spent on FF:ROTSS, you couldn't just make PREDATOR 2 twice, you could damn near throw in the original.

It's possible to do a lot more with special effects these days. But PREDATOR 2, even though it's not a completely satisfying sequel, completely outperforms FF:ROTSS on every level. There's a lesson in that.
Tags: movies, reviews

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