Predator is a classic, nuff said. Predator 2 is actually pretty decent, and it had an awful lot to live up to, nuff said. Aliens VS Predator (both of them) were pish ... nuff said.
And so along comes Predators, and thankfully it's pretty good. It was never going to beat the original and best, but it's easily sat there alongside Predator 2. Indeed, Predators and Predator 2 each do things better and worse than each other, so in the end they sit equally in my mind.
Adrien Brody does a surprisingly good job - I wasn't entirely sure about him being cast in the flick, but he really rose to the challenge, especially in the final punch-up, and what's more his character was actually interesting and strong. His sense of survival instinct based in the harsh realities of various war zones made for a nice twist into the mix of characters, and made the 'hunter versus prey' aspect feel more real. The realities of an injured person slowing you down to the point where you'll probably get killed came to the fore.
The previous films were of course about a Predator going on a hunt, but this film really takes the "hunt" angle and runs flat-out with it. The game preserve planet idea works better than expected (even if it still looks like earth most of the time), and the whole escalation of the Predator lore made for interesting viewing. The Predators adapt after every 'season' with new tactics and weapons, and the idea that they even hunt their own is chillingly cool.
The film does many things right. The soundtrack strikes a nice balance between reference to the original (some tracks are directly lifted with great effect) and newly recorded tracks that manage to maintain a consistency with the existing score. The homages were for the most part handled well, and I never found them to be obtrusive - it was enjoyable to catch the odd nod or wink throughout, with even a couple of quite subtle references tossed into the mix for the real franchise fanboys. Plus the action, violence and gore made for a good thrill ride.
The film isn't without fault, of course. Topher Grace doesn't stand out as well as the other actors in the ensemble (much like how he didn't leave much of a dent on Spider-Man 3), but then again I've never been fussed about him as an actor anyway. Laurence Fishburne, however, often makes a big impression, and he made a decent impression here ... it's just a shame that his appearance was almost entirely pointless. He crops up for five minutes, talks like a nutter, and sods off. It was also a shame that Danny Trejo didn't get an awful lot of screen time, and that there was a noticeable dip towards the end of the second act, but even still it was a thoroughly enjoyable time.
At last - a good movie with Predators in it!