So that's pretty much how I approached the Predator with Vikings sounding Outlander, a science fiction, action film that sounded as though it was going to deliver some decent performances with great effects and tons of big sequences. You know, I surely wasn't disappointed.
However he's landed right in the middle of two Viking tribes fighting for land, and one tribe captures him believing him to be a spy from the other tribe, and all the while the creature is reaping the benefits.
He's soon going to find though that the only way he can defeat the creature is by teaming up with the Vikings, and they have no idea what to expect.
The first thing you have to realise that this is a strong Hollywood action film, so sit back, disengage the brain, and just don't allow any reason to enter your thoughts and instead enjoy. That's what this kind of film is about, but while I can do that, I still have to have some reasoning enter my head, I just can't watch a film throw reality and reasoning to the wind just in order to fit a sequence or a plot turn into the story, and this does it at every opportunity.
Yes it ticks all the boxes that the film is supposed to, but that doesn't make it a good film, or a great action film. It just does enough. Well that's not strictly true, there's a part of the film where things change and there's the distinct feeling that this could be something different, something interesting, and that happens when the back story piece begins.
The back story sees when the race that the man belongs to invades and colonises the planet where the creature comes from, wiping out the race that inhabits the planet and setting up home on their world. This whole section promises to change the story and makes us think that there's something different coming with the rest of the film, there's not though, this doesn't stay for long before we're back in the same story as before.
This excellent back story is never really exploited or explored above the standard motivation piece, as soon as that is established we're right back to the rest of the film, and I think that's a serious missed opportunity for the film for this on its own could have been a great story, never mind the current time line of landing on Earth.
Back in the Earth-Viking time line there were issues galore with the film that leapt out and jolted me out of the film with it. There are some moments that are incredibly dumb, perhaps the dumbest is the whole idea of the trap, a trap which relies on the creature walking through the front gate of the tribal village.
Yet this just seemed insanely stupid since they had all seen the creature climbing over the village gates not that long ago, and it wasn't just the characters in the film either, it was the whole audience, so the idea of the trap seemed just plain daft. Why would the creature walk through the front gates?
There's the question of what happened to the weaponry that the alien brought with him, we see it at the start of the film but he never goes back for it, and when they do they decide to collect something that's very hard to believe.
Another moment later in the film sees some of the characters hiding behind a rock wall with a fissure through it, just enough that the creature could see and sense them, but not enough that it could get to them. Of course when the creature is gone they just walk round the other side which is totally open! It was an almost comic moment.
There's the moment near the end when they are trying to escape from the creature and can't climb the cliff, but come a few scenes later and they've climbed the whole cliff face and managed to get to the top without much effort. Once there they start waving and shouting and miles beneath them the Viking ships see and hear them.
One more before I give up. The alien has a beacon which is attracting other ships from his world to save him, it's been bleeping for most of the film, and just when a ship is beginning to land above him, it's destroyed and the ship lifts off and disappears into the night sky again.
Wait a minute, an interstellar space ship capable of travelling such amazing distances, has taken days, even weeks to arrive, is within a hundred feet or so of landing, it knows there's a beacon beneath it and probably even knows that it has a ship missing in this area, decides to instantly leave when the beacon stops?! Remember this is a race that we saw earlier will stop at nothing to colonise a planet, destroying an entire race in order to gain the land.
Just plain stupid.
However, let's look at some positives. The cinematography is strong and the creature effects are superb. James Caviezel, Sophia Myles, Jack Huston and John Hurt are all very good, and this doesn't feel like a Dungeon Siege film, a poor medieval film with a big cast, no this is far from that. The actors give their performances some serious weight and play them as thought this wasn't just a science fiction action film without much depth.
It's Ron Perlman though who has the best character and some of the greatest fight moments of the film, however he's just not in the film enough, there are some short snips, just enough for you to get the character, and then he's gone. Although to be honest a lot of the character is pulled through what you know of the actor and the characters he has played before.
The action sequences are pretty exciting and well choreographed. With the strong cinematography, great effects, good costumes and sets, and the actors, we really do end up with some strong fight sequences, and thankfully the editing and close cropped camera work is kept to a minimum and we get to see what's happening. This is good action.
The big action sequence of fighting the creature within the village was really well done, the tension was built well even during the release of the frantic action, and despite there being so much to try and keep focussed on the film manages to keep you following the multiple strands of battle.
This is standard action fare wrapped up in a science fiction film which shows moments of so much more. What does do this film harm are the numerous scripted moments that just seem utterly stupid and out of place. There are some genuinely groan worthy moments, but if you sit back, disengage your brain and enjoy the light entertainment then you will enjoy this film. Enter even a modicum of seriousness or rational thought and you'll have that enjoyment picked away at.
There were so many options with this story all missed in favour of delivering the standard fare.