REVIEW: The Predator (Spoiler Free)

Fun fact: director of 2018’s The Predator, Shane Black, did not only feature in the 1987 original Predator as the character Hawkins but he also happened to be the first person to ever be brutally murdered by a Predator on-screen. Interesting, right? Also lends an explanation to whether or not this new movie in the franchise was cursed because of said event (F.Y.I. it definitely was).

Deadly sniper, Quinn McKenna, becomes the sole survivor of a predator attack, leaving him no choice but to send his only evidence to a safe place with his estranged family, for which leads his son to accidently trigger a signal, luring in a stronger race of predators to Earth.

I may be the only movie buff on the globe who is not a diehard (get what I did there) fan of the original 1987 Predator. I think the movie is really good and from the works of director, John McTiernan, and actor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, it is notably one of their better films. However I don’t think the movie is great; neither do I think it has aged really well. Now I realise I have probably lost a large percentage of my audience for saying that, but I need to be honest when talking about films or else I will lose what makes my opinion unique. I think Predator has classic moments but I don’t think the movie is particularly perfect by any stretch.

So naturally, I have always thought that Predator could be rebooted or, at the very least, be re-established with a modern director in modern cinema to possibly offer a cleaner, more well-rounded flick. So after hearing Shane Black was hired to direct the new version, I was heavily excited and pumped for what a talent like Black could do with a property like Predator… which makes this 2018 version all the more disappointing and, quite frankly, a largely poor effort.

I love Shane Black. I think he is an overlooked genius. The man has directed and written two of the 2000s most underrated buddy cop action comedies with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and The Nice Guys. Also he delivered, what I think is, the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s most underrated and overlooked effort, Iron Man 3. Not to mention, he wrote Lethal Weapon. The point is that Black is great at what he does, so naturally I thought a Predator movie from the guy would be, at the very least, good, but 2018’s The Predator is quite the disaster, despite having everything good going for it.

For the first half an hour or so of The Predator, I sat thinking “this movie is alright”. I really liked the idea of a ragtag team of insane mercenaries played by Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Keegan-Michael Key, Thomas Jane and more. I really liked the idea of a new, more advanced and powerful predator. I really liked the ideas behind some of the Meta jokes and quips at play about how a predator is not technically a predator but more appropriately a hunter or a sportsman. Yet that was it; what I came to realise about The Predator was that the only things I liked about it were ‘ideas’ and nothing more.

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(Han 2018)

The Predator is literally just an ‘idea’ from Shane Black that was cobbled together so poorly that almost nothing entirely worked in the cognitive functions of the movie. The film may have started on a high point, but the rest of the flick just became the definition of a slow burn into pure ridiculousness. It slowly dawns on you that the funny jokes become unnecessarily repetitive and endless. You begin to notice the characters have no ‘character’ and any chance of development is opted out of for more bloody, nonsensical violence and quips, quips and MORE quips.

Now, yes, I do heavily appreciate that The Predator was ultra-violent. This film is not for the faint of heart and one of the elements I loved most about it was that it never held back on the blood and gore, as most franchise films do nowadays. I really liked most of the practical effects and the overall design of the predators – but you really have to wonder, if any of these pros even count as real praise when the visual effects holding everything together is rendered in the image of just pure garbage.

The CGI in this movie was atrocious. Apart from a few sequences set in space, the effects on people as they explode into blood and gore were horrendous. When morning broke on the mostly night-time set movie, the visual effects hit a whole new level of terribleness that was unforgivable. However what my main problem with the visual effects boiled down to was the appearance of the central predator. Now, I don’t believe this to be a spoiler, but the beginning of the movie followed a more practical looking, classic predator, until about the midpoint of the movie when said predator was traded in for a larger, conceptually more terrifying predator for which was completely computer generated. Like I said, I liked the idea of a bigger and more advanced predator, but the execution of the creature’s look just reminded me of one of the big grey bad guys at the end of a DC movie like Doomsday, Ares or Steppenwolf. The predator just never appeared realistic or frightening, which sucked, since in comparison, the more practical 1987 predator still remains as one of the most awesome on-screen monsters ever created. For some reason, juxtaposed to the 80s version, the 2018 take on the character could not even come close to matching the terror behind the horrifying dreadlocked foe.

To continue with this rant, the characters were all terribly written. The actors performed as if they were all featuring in parallel films, like say Key and Jane were in comedies while Holbrook was in action and Olivia Munn was in sci-fi. Nothing really meshed (you know, apart from the character’s skulls when they were eventually crushed by the predator). The film insisted you care about relationships, like in particular, the one between Holbrook and his son, though never would the script ever give you reason to do so. Everything about everyone was so nonsensical to the point Olivia Munn’s character started the movie as just a scientist and ended it as a gun-wielding pro-assassin, with no development to have her reach said point. Also, to add to injury, Jacob Tremblay portrayed a character with autism, and in true movie cliché fashion, his autism was treated like a super power, which is cool if it were not for the fact… that’s not how autism works!

And speaking of being disrespectful to serious real-life conditions – I have no clue why the filmmakers thought it would be funny to use tourettes as the punch line to every joke. I mean, as soon as Thomas Jane’s character was revealed to have tourettes, I thought to myself “REALLY? You’re kidding me? You are actually going to use that as a joke? Wow!”

You have no idea how bombastically stupid this movie got. There were so many dumb moments, yet I could not pinpoint a single one as the biggest fault of The Predator. To give you some idea; the movie included the predator’s hunting dogs about midway through but had one of them change allegiance to the side of the humans for no real given reason… but then, when you thought that was the dumbest thing in the narrative, a character would have a real over-the-top death scene and the audience would begin laughing because it unintentionally felt like a joke… Its things like this that really made me think what the real intentions behind making this movie were – because it sure as hell wasn’t for an innovative and refreshing take on the Predator franchise.

Oh wait, no, this movie was made to set-up sequels! Of course, because nowadays, that’s what every movie has to do to stay relevant. And trust me, the end sequence to The Predator is one of the most underwhelming and pathetic attempts of franchise building that I have seen since Tom Cruise’s The Mummy, which was sadly only about a year ago…

Look.

Thing is, I don’t want people to think I loathed The Predator with a passion. This movie was not terrible; it was just a poor effort. I was never really bored in The Predator, I just felt more baffled than anything. Yes, this movie was watchable (not to say I didn’t enjoy little bits and pieces) since there were good elements, but I just felt the movie was too poorly structured and too poorly written to seriously live up to any real pre-conceived idea of a good entry to the already disappointing franchise.

So in an age where there are fleeting amounts of filmmakers you can trust to deliver hit after hit, Shane Black no longer seems to be one of them, which really makes me sad. Predator, if you are reading this (and I am sure you are), when you come back to Earth, do you mind just doing me a favour and ripping out my spine as well…

The Predator sadly belongs in the… KINGDOM OF THE CRIMINALLY DULL…

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