It’s over to Sky Movies for Predator 2.
This was an interesting choice for the filmmakers. Presumably Schwarzenegger was unavailable, and they made a choice not to retread the jungle setting of the original. But I can’t help feeling that taking it from the jungles of South America and putting it in ‘the jungle’ of Los Angeles was a metaphor that led to some questionable choices.
It’s set in ‘the future’ – 1997 when the film was released in 1990. It’s not really ‘future’ future, but it does let them present Los Angeles as a gang-infested battleground, practically a war zone. There’s also a heatwave, because the first film established that the Predator only comes on the hottest years.
This is a very violent film, as was the original, but here it feels messy and unfocused. It opens in the midst of a massive shootout between cops and gang members. Loads of cars blowing up and people holding machine guns in both hands.
Everyone shouts a lot, and there’s a large amount of swearing. The late 80s and early 90s hit peak swearing in movies. My feeling is that you don’t get it as much any more. I suspect that’s because action movies tend to be made to appeal to a wider (and therefore younger) audience. At the time I don’t think it bothered me, but now I notice it more. Die Hard 2 is another example, although I like that one a lot more than I like this one.
It’s got a good cast of 90s stars, though. There’s lead Danny Glover, stepping into Schwarzenegger’s big shoes. He’s another interesting choice, not necessarily the obvious action star, despite his Lethal Weapon credentials, and in his favour he never says “two weeks to retirement” at any point in the film.
The lovely Bill Paxton plays another cop, always trying to wisecrack.
Musician turned actor Ruben Blades plays Glover’s partner. It’s no surprise that the film adheres closely to action movie rules by bumping him off early in the story.
Robert Davi plays Glover’s boss, who’s a hardass with a stick up his ass and a stickler for the rules.
Gary Busey (or ‘boozey’ as he’s called by the announcer at the start of the recording) plays the mysterious leader of the team searching for the Predator, causing jurisdictional issues with Glover. I honestly can’t believe that there wasn’t a police thriller in the 90s titled Jurisdictional Issues.
Maria Conchita Alonso is another of Glover’s colleagues.
In a small part, there’s former Firefly star, now hateful woman-hater Adam Baldwin as one of Busey’s cabal of special-ops nerds.
One thing I do like about the movie is Alan Silvestri’s soundtrack. It takes the themes from the original movie and plays with them. There’s a distinct Afro-Caribbean flavour to the soundtrack, appropriate since a lot of the gangs are Afro-Caribbean. Which brings me to another thing I’ve always felt uncomfortable about. Is this film a bit racist? All the gangs are ethnically specific, and there’s a feeling in the film that LA is becoming lawless, presumably because of all these ‘foreign’ influences. And yet, the main cast is far more diverse than most big action movies of the time. So I don’t know, maybe it’s just me being a woolly liberal.
There’s some good things in there too, like the moment on a subway car, when some unsavoury looking thugs are menacing passengers, and a bunch of the passengers pull out guns to ‘protect’ themselves.
Less inspired is the scene where Busey and his team go into a freezing warehouse to catch the Predator, and it all goes horribly wrong, while Glover and Baldwin watch them on CCTV. It’s a shame this was basically a retread of the similar scene in Aliens.
There’s a scene late on, when Glover finds his way on to the Predator ship, there’s a trophy section featuring what looks like the skull of an Alien from Aliens. This was the start of the whole Alien V Predator franchise. I don’t think that’s necessarily a good thing.
After this, recording switches to BBC2 and the first part of a Horizon biography of Richard Feynman. It makes a lot of use of the earlier Horizon film about him, made by Christopher Sykes.
Among those interviewed are his sister Joan.
Danny Hillis talks about how once, he and Feynman had spent an afternoon breaking spaghetti to try to work out why spaghetti always breaks in three pieces. Hillis, incidentally, was the founder of Thinking Machines, makers of the parallel computing supercomputers the Connection Machines.
Another legendary physicist Freeman Dyson.
His artist friend, Zirayr Zorthian, responds to one of Feynman’s famous assertions that because a scientist understands more about the world that he can see more than simply the aesthetic beauty of, say, a flower. But Zorthian’s counter example uses a woman’s bare breasts, and literally talks about ‘putting your head between them and going blubble, blubble, blubble’. But he wasn’t referencing a Not The Nine O’Clock News sketch.
Another legendary physicist Hans Bethe.
BBC Genome: BBC Two – 25th January 1993 – 20:00
After this, this recording stops, and underneath, something recorded off one of the German satellite channels – it’s UFO in German. This is followed by Schreinemakers Live, a German talk show. The tape ends during this.