Bullet Points: Predator: Dark Ages
For the second day in a row I’ll be reviewing a short fan film that was just recently released to a good amount of fan fare. The source material being what it is (THE GREATEST FILM EVER MADE), Predator: Dark Ages had plenty of backstory and a strong fan base already built in so they really only needed to do one thing: make an entertaining film. There have been five different movies released since the first one back in 1987 and as far as I’m concerned each one has gotten progressively worse (although I did like Predators). That puts Dark Ages in a position to thrive based on my low expectations. For some reason, either because they don’t exist or filmmakers just don’t cast them, true badasses like the ones in the original Predator seem to have disappeared from action films these days. I mean, Bill Duke, Carl Weathers, Sonny Landham; these weren’t the type of guys who made cameos on Law and Order for two seasons before getting their big break and appearing on Glee or some shit. These were legit tough dudes. Richard Chaves was a Vietnam vet, Jesse Ventura was a former Navy SEAL, even Shane Black seemed like a real soldier and not some actor pretending to be hard. All of my rambling aside, Dark Ages comes closer to the original in terms of the subtle creation of the men as soldiers than any of the other films in the series. Check it out.
- P90X for Predators: Despite what Hollywood tells you, having a six pack doesn’t make you a tough guy. It means you probably adhere to a very strict diet and workout regimen, yes, but toughness it does not convey. I spent six years in the Infantry and I’ve met some pretty rough dudes and I can’t recall a single one of them having the chiseled core and perfect smile that apparently makes you a A-list action star these days. The reason I bring this up is because I felt like not only did Dark Ages get the soldiers right, it did so effortlessly and in a very short amount of time. Each of the characters had their own little gimmick; the lady was a tracker (only don’t call her a lady), the big guy got some good lines in about being scared and whatnot, Sied filled all of the others in on important information and backstory much like Anna in the original, and the rest of the crew were the grizzled vets just like Mac and Blain in the 1987 classic. They felt like a group of fighters who had seen some shit and lived through enough to know when more was about to hit the fan right in their faces. Most movies would try and make you believe that tough soldiers don’t get scared when, in reality, the ones who’ve seen and lived through some of the worst know when they’re outmatched and in trouble. Am I reading too much into this…probably, but that’s what I’m here for.
- Me bitching about the weather: My only real issue with this short film, which I’ve spent more time writing about than actually watching the thing, was the way that the Predator was portrayed. Each movie features a different hunter or hunters but by now we’ve had the blueprint laid out of their behavior and what kind of things make them select a site and start killing. First off, on a very limited budget certain concessions must be made. I get that and because I don’t actually have to do all the work it’s easy for me to nitpick but take it as a compliment that I have to focus on such trivial things. Having said that, it should have been hotter. The first two movies laid this out in detail about how the Predators liked the weather muy caliente. The thing I hated most about the first AvP movie was they placed it in Antarctica…the absolute last place that a Predator would hunt. Dark Ages isn’t that big of a disaster but one simple line (and maybe I missed it) about how “God damned hot it was” could have made me a much happier person.
- Fencing lessons: What was that whole business with the Predator pulling out a sword? Dude has retractable claws that come out of his wrists but decided to even up the battle just this once? Also, this Predator was too much of a wimp. I just can’t see a master hunter walking away in shame like he did. It was different than the classic *Predator laughs then blows himself to bits while the hero runs away thing* but in this case different wasn’t better.
It looked and felt “real”. That is a good thing.
Some final Bullet Points before I go:
- Riding bitch: When they found out the Saracen was going to be coming with them, why didn’t he get his own horse. Instead he saddled up with one of the other knights and there’s no greater way of coming off like a pussy than having to hold on to another man’s waist on the back of a horse.
- Predator-isms: There are some very cool throwback one-liners from the original. Some almost word for word and others that have been changed slightly to account for variations in dialect. I loved it!
- Chrome Dome: Visually it was pretty great to see the knight standing there in full armor with the torch but there’s no way he could see anything out of the helmet.
- If I had it my way: I think it would have been cool if somehow the heat from the fire and the torch that he was carrying messed up the Predator’s heat vision. We didn’t get the usual “mud as camouflage” so it would have been a subtle nod to the original film.
Despite how it might look above, I absolutely loved the film. The cast did a spectacular job and the cinematography and all that jazz was number one! It’s much easier for me to complain about the two minutes of the movie that I didn’t like than to write six pages on the parts that I really loved. I’ve mentioned several times that Predator is my favorite film of all time so when I say that this fan film is a great addition to the Predator Universe then I mean that with the highest amount of respect. I would be glad to watch a continuation of the world brought to film by writer/director James Bushe and I look forward to a follow-up taking place in Southern Georgia during the American Civil War. *fingers crossed*
Check out the short film below: