Published Feb 01, 2005There's a scene in Full Metal Jacket between Animal Mother (Adam Baldwin) and Joker (Matthew Modine), where, using a classic if utterly overused line, Animal says to Joker, "you talk the talk, but do you walk the walk?" This reference is relevant for a couple reasons. One: because Adam Baldwin appears in Predator 2 (although in a lesser bad-ass role). Two: because AVP director Paul (W.S.) Anderson is the worst kind of filmmaker. He's the type that can talk the talk but one who fails utterly to walk the walk. In his commentary and in the featurettes for AVP, Anderson conveys the same level of excitement and enthusiasm of uber-geek Peter Jackson in regards to The Lord of the Rings, talking about his love of the original Alien and Predator films and how he was going to do them justice. Forget the fact that he was placing it on Earth, in a prequel role and in Antarctica all choices that reeked of disaster Anderson was talking the talk, making fans forget he made films like Resident Evil and Mortal Kombat. Of course, when AVP came out, it was the walking that faltered. Even the longstanding devotees of the Alien and Predator franchises were hard-pressed to find some good in Anderson's latest hack job. Continuity, logic, an understanding of the myths of the creatures, all elements Anderson sheds rather quickly to shoehorn the viewer into his story of Predators hunting Aliens with humans caught in the middle in a pyramid thousands of feet beneath the ice. The Aliens aren't scary, the Predators are more muscle-bound jocks than hunters and the humans are all cardboard cut-outs waiting to become monster chow. The surprising thing isn't how bad it is (or how badly it misuses its classic characters), it's that in the commentary with Anderson, Lance Henriksen (who plays billionaire Charles Weyland, who funds the doomed expedition) and Sanaa Lathan (Alexa Woods, the replacement Ripley), no one seems to realise what a disservice to the franchises it is. Come on Lance, you were in freakin' Aliens, you should know better.
With the release of AVP (the unquestionable worst offering in either the Predator and Alien cannons), Predator 2 gets a re-release and maybe fans will give it another chance. Despite the Aliens versus Predator comic coming beforehand, it was Predator 2 that popularised the AVP concept when it showed an Alien skull in the trophy room of the Predator ship. Although it has received much criticism over the years, and is generally viewed as inferior to the original, Predator 2 was (and still is) actually a good sci-fi/monster film that at least stayed true to the creature guidelines established before it (unlike AVP). Set in a then futuristic L.A. (in the late '90s), Predator 2 moves the ultimate alien hunter from the jungle to the urban sprawl, replacing apex prey Arnold Schwarzenegger's special forces soldier with Danny Glover's hardnosed cop, and throws in entertaining supporting characters like Bill Paxton (another Aliens alum), Rubén Blades, and Gary Busey. The film is a great deal bloodier and laced with profanity than one remembers (having a R rating, as opposed to AVP's PG-13), the Predator looks great (unlike in AVP, which attempted to bulk up the body and soften the face) and the action is generally strong (especially the opening gang war and the Predator battles), despite being made before the days of CGI (maybe not such a bad thing). Sure there are some holes, and Glover is sometimes too intense for the film and Paxton a little too goofy, and it does look like it was made in the early 1990 (which it was), but on its own it's still solid and in comparison is head and shoulders above AVP. Despite the "special edition," the numerous featurettes on Predator 2 (much like on AVP) are a bit underwhelming (especially some of the ones that focus on the Predator), but features two commentary tracks, one with director Stephen Hopkins solo giving a laid-back but sometimes interesting track. He drops nuggets like despite the rumours, Arnold passed to do T2, not because he hated the script, it was one of the last films done with non-CGI effects and discussing the time he accidentally pulled Rubén Blades off a live interview for Good Morning, America. (Fox)