Eight strangers find themselves in unfamiliar surroundings at the start of Predators.  One by one, they literally drop out of the sky and land harshly in the middle of an unknown jungle, ejected parachutes assuring their safe arrival.  (A ninth character isn’t so lucky.)  They come from all over the world.  Sierra Leone, Chechnya, Guatemala, Mexico, Japan and America.  None of them have any idea where they are and why they’ve been brought here.
Adrien Brody plays one of the Americans, a gruff, seemingly self-centred ex-military guy who quickly figures out the serious danger this group faces.  Lovely Brazillian actress Alice Braga is the Guatemalan warrior who recognizes something she had only previously read about.  Olag Taktarov is a Chechnyan freedom fighter with two kids.  Louis Ozawa Changchien is a member of the Japanese mafia who has a very good reason for not saying very much.  Topher Grace is a seemingly wussy doctor.  Walton Goggins is an ultra creepy death row inmate who fights African Mahershalalhashbaz Ali for reasons that are never really made clear.  Longtime character actor Danny Trejo rounds out the cast.
Not long after the group comes together, they are suddenly attacked by a pack of wild "dogs", to use Brody’s description.  Good thing most of them brought along their heavy artillery.  Just when it looks like Braga is going to have to off herself before one of these hideous wildebeests takes her out, the survivors of the pack retreat.  Someone or something orders them to back off.  Hmm.
As our heroes reach the edge of a cliff early on, the horror of their reality soon becomes clear, thanks to a rather lovely visual.  Somehow, they’ve been plucked from Earth and are stranded in the middle of a game reserve on an unknown alien planet.  They’ve literally become prey for the same type of malevolent hunters that bedeviled Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny Glover back home.
If this sounds terribly unoriginal, you’re right.  There have been numerous films about the hunting of humans for sport.  Think Hard Target, Surviving The Game or The Most Dangerous Game.   The twist here is that the hunters aren’t human.  That doesn’t make it any more interesting.
Glacially paced, the good looking Predators functions as a watered down, humourless retread of the brutally efficient original.  Like its 1987 predecessor, the hunted are reduced in numbers one major kill at a time.  (In this case, by one very smart killer.)  But we actually cared about Dutch and company and really felt something when any one of them expired.  That’s not the case here despite the added breeds of predators.
Things pick up considerably, though, when out of nowhere Laurence Fishburne makes his presence known.  Through him, we learn that the alien predators have hunting seasons and he’s survived 10 of them.  He’s been stuck on this God forsaken planet for so long he often converses with an imaginary friend.  It’s a truly strange character but Fishburne plays him well, despite the proposterousness of him looking overfed in a place not exactly crawling with Piggly Wigglys.
After that, the film reverts back to its routine nature with little excitement to look forward to.  The intense action sequences lack inventive zip, the characters you expect to survive do so and the ending is overly optimistic for another chapter.  Although not everything is predictable (a hope for escape is thwarted, one of the hunted reveals his true colours near the end), much of it is.
It’s difficult to warm to these characters when we know so little about them and have little reason to root for them.  Take the death row inmate, as an example.  He has a tattoo of his big chested sister on his stomach.  She’s topless.  During a brief reprieve from the mayhem, he tells Topher Grace how much he’s looking forward to raping a lot of women when he gets back, an appalling moment played for laughs that aren’t forthcoming.  Whereas we genuinely liked Schwarzenegger’s ragtag group of mercenaries, this group of selected killers leave us cold.  It’s no wonder they’ve been selected for extermination.
Hopefully, this needlessly resuscitated franchise will be next.
(Special thanks to Dave Scacchi.)
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, July 19, 2010
12:46 a.m. 
Published in: on July 19, 2010 at 12:38 am  Comments (1)  

Revealing Quotes From Mel Gibson’s 1995 Playboy Interview

In the July 1995 issue of Playboy Magazine, Mel Gibson was the subject of its monthly Interview.  At the time it was conducted, he was editing Braveheart, the film that would go on to become a major critical and financial success.  (Of the five Oscars it won, Gibson personally snagged two.  I highly recommend it.)  Originally planned as two separate two-hour sessions on two consecutive days, the normally press-suspicious Gibson surprisingly gave inquisitor Lawrence Grobel more than eight hours over three. 
15 years after its publication, Gibson’s remarkable candor regarding the darker aspects of his personality have taken on new depth in light of these now infamous audio tapes of him screaming and insulting his then-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva earlier this year.  (As of this writing, five tapes of his scary ranting have been released.  More are still to come.) 
What follows are the most revealing quotes which sound, at times, oddly contemporary:
“We’re all a strange bunch of different and contradictory bits. I’m no closer to explaining who I am than anyone else is.”
“I get pretty dark sometimes, pretty bleak. But that passes. I rarely lose my temper anymore…You’ve got to get it out. I used to just hang on to it and then some little thing would set it off, which was stupid. You behave like an asshole when you lose it, and you feel like an asshole afterward. It’s not healthy.”
“I have a self-destructive tendency.”
“Drinking is a cultural pastime [in Australia], and it’s required. So you indulge and imbibe. Misbehaving is fun.”
“There are people who try to grab on and go through the gate with you, because they can’t do it themselves. You find a lot of people interacting or doing things for not very good reasons. So you have to deal with assholes. Not everybody’s an asshole, though sometimes you wonder.”
“I hate talking about me and what I believe. I always find it to be painful. It’s like making a large target out of yourself. You make yourself very vulnerable.”
On an unnamed author who wrote an unauthorized bio of him:
“He deserves death. He attacked me at an elemental level. He attacked my wife, my family, my father, my whole being. He’s lucky he’s still walking. He’s getting to you in the most underhanded, nasty way, threatening everything you have, everything you are, saying that you’re a worthless piece of shit. And that the people who gave birth to you are scumbags and really nasty people. And everyone you’ve ever met or touched you trampled on and fucked over. And that you’re weird and warped and it’s like you are fucking Hitler. I’m Hitler and my dad is Mussolini!”
“I have to pray for the guy who [wrote the book] so I don’t kill him. Because the motherfucker hasn’t got any balls. He’s a pussy and I hope I never meet him, because I’d tear his fucking face right off! He’s one of those tabloid-press low-life scumbags from England who’s making a buck. There’s a lot of money to be made in unauthorized biographies.”

“I used to break the law a bit. I was a good criminal as a child. I never got caught.”

On the one time he stapled his sister’s head:
“She was sitting there and it was just one of those compulsions. It was a big stapler, too. She screamed her head off and I was in serious trouble. I didn’t stick around, but [my parents] hunted me down and I got a whacking.”

“There has to be an afterlife because Hitler and I both walked the planet and I’m not going to the same place as Hitler. Or Pol Pot.”

“I’ll get kicked around for saying it, but men and women are just different. They’re not equal.”
“You might be more intelligent, or you might have a bigger dick. Whatever it is, nobody’s equal. And men and women are not equal. I have tremendous respect for women. I love them. I don’t know why they want to step down. Women in my family are the center of things. All good things emanate from them. The guys usually mess up.”
“I had a female business partner once. Didn’t work. She was a cunt.”
“Feminists don’t like me, and I don’t like them. I don’t get their point. I don’t know why feminists have it out for me, but that’s their problem, not mine.”
More on the former business partner:
“She was more vicious than any guy in business I’ve ever seen. She thought she needed to over compensate for the fact that she was a woman. Which is just bullshit. It’s like unbelievable ferocity and unreasonableness. Then, when you got to her reason, she’d pull the woman thing on you. She wasn’t fair. They don’t play fair.”
On women:
“It happens a lot. They’re not coming from the same place at all. There are certain things men will never understand about them. We’ll never get it. And you’re supposed to be nice to them. Because they can hurt you. It’s like that joke about the guy who bedded three women: Lorena Bobbitt, Tonya Harding and Hillary Clinton. He woke up with no penis, his kneecaps bashed in and no health insurance.”

On whether his then-wife shares any of his beliefs:

On his theory regarding Rhodes Scholar politicians:
“Do you know what a Rhodes scholar is? Cecil Rhodes established the Rhodes scholarship for those young men and women who want to strive for a new world order. Have you heard that before? George Bush? CIA? Really, it’s Marxism, but it just doesn’t want to call itself that. Karl [Marx] had the right idea, but he was too forward about saying what it was. Get power but don’t admit to it. Do it by stealth. There’s a whole trend of Rhodes scholars who will be politicians around the world.”
“I used to get into trouble because I had a really big trap. I’d say things to people and they’d take offense because I’m not the soul of tact. It still plagues me.”
“There are so many assholes out there with guns, and they’ll always have guns, so you might as well have the right to bear arms.”
On whether he owns a gun:
“I do.”
On whether he’s racist, homophobic, mysogynistic:
“No, I’m not. I’m really not. I think if you suggest that you find some modes of behavior unnatural, then you become all those things. And you get vilified. It’s like having people holding signs and trying to spit on you.”
On whether he suffers from guilt:
“People who don’t deal with guilt have a problem, unless you never do anything to transgress what you know to be right or wrong. And there are very few people who don’t step over the line, because it’s fun to goof up, it’s fun to fuck up. It is. You can’t deny it.”
The entire entertaining interview can be read here

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, July 18, 2010
11:38 a.m. 

Published in: on July 18, 2010 at 11:38 am  Leave a Comment  

Gibson’s Audio Rant Deeply Disturbing

Well, that didn’t take long.
Yesterday in this space, I noted that secret recordings of Mel Gibson ranting and raving at his then-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva had not been publicly released because of a judge’s court order.  (Gibson and Grigorieva are fighting over custody of their 8-month-old daughter.)  However, RadarOnline and TMZ had acquired their own copies of the couple’s arguments and had been posting some of the more incendiary quotes in brief online reports.
Before today, you could only read some of what Gibson was saying on these tapes.  Now, in what is likely to be the first of several forthcoming releases, a 2-minute audio portion of a phone call between the couple can be heard online.  If you live outside of Canada, you can hear it by clicking here.  Canadian visitors (and everybody else, for that matter) can click this YouTube link while you can.  (I’m sure RadarOnline will order it removed, along with all the others posted on that site, since this is an enormous exclusive for them.)  It begins at the 5-second mark.
If you thought the written quotations were awful, brace yourself for the audio.  While Grigorieva remains remarkably calm and rational throughout the entire phone conversation, an enraged and unmistakable Mel Gibson is irrationally obsessed with her fake breasts claiming she lied about their enhanced nature.  (She denies it.)  Then, he worries about how her breastfeeding will affect his child’s health.  As a result, he immediately orders her to remove the implants.  When Grigorieva refuses he totally loses it.
Sounding paranoid and jealous Gibson seethes about how she allegedly presents her breasts to the outside world arguing that she’s “provocatively dressed all the time” in “tight clothes” (she calmly denies it) which leads to the infamously racist line about provoking “a pack of niggers” to gang rape her.
He ends his rant by breaking up with her in no uncertain terms while simultaneously ordering her to stay home.  It’s deeply unsettling.
What little good will Gibson still had left after his previous racist rant in 2006 will likely disappear for good now.  He’s already been dropped by his talent agency, he’s being investigated for allegedly hitting Grigorieva (as I noted yesterday), CNN’s Jim Moret mentioned that Leonardo DiCaprio has changed his mind about working on a movie with him and who knows if his next two completed films (The Beaver and How I Spent My Summer Vacation) will be released in the near future.
This whole sordid mess is sadder and scarier then we originally thought.
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, July 10, 2010
11:23 p.m.
UPDATE:  A second tape has surfaced.  (Canadian visitors can hear it on Perez Hilton’s site.)  Clocking in around 8 minutes, it is far more chilling then the original clip.  An unhinged Gibson resorts to screaming as he viciously and repeatedly threatens and insults his ex while astoundingly giving her one more chance.  Most disturbing of all, he actually admits culpability in hitting the mother of his eighth child.  Grigorieva stays calm right up until the last couple of minutes or so when she reaches her breaking point and starts to fight back.  Gibson is completely unsympathetic and actually mocks her concern.  He gets himself so worked up over the phone that he literally loses his breath a number of times and starts panting.  If he ever gets offered another role in Hollywood, it would have to be a heel turn.  Thanks to these uncomfortable audio clips, no one will want to root for him ever again.
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, July 12, 2010
4:31 p.m.
Published in: on July 10, 2010 at 11:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

Who Is The Real Mel Gibson?

Is he a happy-go-lucky, merry prankster?  A longtime on-screen charmer?  A daring filmmaker?  A generous friend?  A loving father of eight?  Or is he a vicious, mysogynistic abuser?  A racist demagogue?  An ultraconservative hatemonger?
Human beings are complex entities and the troubled Mel Gibson is no exception.  Thanks to recently revealed allegations, however, it’s hard to determine who the real guy is anymore.
In April this year, Gibson broke up with his Russian girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva, his first public relationship since his divorce.  They have a baby daughter who’s not yet a year old.  (Gibson also has seven kids from his only marriage which lasted 30 years.)  Two months after they split, reported that Grigorieva had made secret recordings of the couple’s arguments.  While the audio of those tapes have not been released in any form (as of this writing, at least, because they’ve been ordered sealed by a judge), alleged quotes have popped up again and again in subsequent reports by TMZ and RadarOnline.  Both sites say they’ve confirmed the tapes as legitimate.
The revelations are gruesome.  Reportedly, Gibson insults Grigorieva by calling her a “cunt” and a “whore”.  He ridicules her physical appearance (“You look like a fucking pig in heat…”) and welcomes the idea of her being gangraped by black men (“…and if you get raped by a pack of niggers it will be your fault.”).  He threatens to burn her house down but not before receiving oral sex (“I am going to come and burn the fucking house down…but you will blow me first.”).  He mentions what he plans to do with an unnamed staffer (“I will report her to the fucking people that take fucking money from the wetbacks.”).  In perhaps the most unsettling moment noted publicly thus far, he seems to acknowledge striking the mother of his youngest daughter (“…you fucking deserved it.”) and may have threatened her with a piece.
Despite being a widely popular movie star since Mad Max, there has always been two images of Mel Gibson.  The talented and charming actor who can do comedy, action, romance and drama.  And the alcoholic jerk who hates women, minorities, liberals and homosexuals.  Now, there’s a strong possibility he’s also a woman beater.  (A domestic violence investigation has been ordered.)  All of this begs the inevitable question:  Who is the real Mel Gibson?
It should be noted that Grigorieva and Gibson are bitterly fighting over custody of their baby daughter and the tapes she made of their verbal wars will play a major role in the resolution of this matter.  It’s her bargaining chip, essentially.  (Gibson and his attorneys, naturally, disagree.)  Whether the court will confirm what two gossip websites already believe to be real remains to be seen.  What also remains to be seen is the veracity of another woman’s claims about Gibson’s off-screen behaviour.
A Polish porn star named Violet Kowel claims she’s had an on-again/off-again sexual relationship with him since 2007 when he was still married.  Two years after their initial tryst, she alleges he called her to hook up again while Grigorieva was carrying his child.  She’s also claiming that Gibson was tempermental and made unspecified threats against her when she wouldn’t see him.  The National Enquirer who broke the alleged affair story claim that Kowel has passed a lie detector test. 
Some four years after his embarrassing drunk driving arrest and almost two decades since he publicly made disparaging remarks about gays and women, Gibson apparently hasn’t changed at all.  You can blame his nutty Holocaust denying father, his longterm battle with the bottle (which dates back to his early teens), his blind devotion to old school Catholicism (pre-Vatican II) or chalk it all up to the pressures of fame.  Regardless of any of that, a confused picture emerges.
On the one hand, you have this good-humoured, charismatic movie star who privately donates to charity, has helped raise healthy, well-adjusted, scandal-free children, is loyal to his friends (particularly fellow addicts in desperate need of help), publicly supported Fahrenheit 9/11 despite being a staunch conservative and has long enjoyed playing funny practical jokes on his flattered co-stars.  On the other, you have this mercurial bigot who doesn’t believe that men and women are equal, has an appalling view of feminists and may or may not have a violent streak.  No matter how you slice it, it’s all so sad and puzzling.  For all his goodness, Mel Gibson can’t escape his most abhorrent qualities.  And no matter how many times he apologizes, no matter how many rehab stints he undertakes, no matter what he does, he can’t shed his darkness for good.  Considering all the good he has done for others in his life, it’s heartbreaking.
As I write this, I can’t help but think of his new baby and how awful it must be for her to be in the middle of such a nasty court proceeding.  The only good thing about it is the fact that she is far too young to know what’s really going on.  She is blissfully unaffected by the torment.  But when she grows up, inevitably curious about her famous father, what will she make of his contradictory nature?  Will he even be around long enough to try to make sense to her who he really is?
If he succeeds with his explanation, I’d like one, too.
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, July 9, 2010
6:37 p.m. 
Published in: on July 9, 2010 at 6:37 pm  Leave a Comment