THE PREDATOR is exactly what I wanted earlier this summer’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom to be: A big, dumb, fun, fast-paced action movie that didn’t put me to sleep. And by dumb, I don’t mean insulting to my intelligence like doing yet another fucking hybrid dinosaur. And by fun and not putting me to sleep, I don’t mean selling dinosaurs and trying to turn a monster franchise into a haunted house movie. Those of you going in there expecting the grittiness or seriousness of the first one, you are going to be disappointed. Tone wise it is somewhere around Predators, but maybe a little more lighthearted and with a pinch of that Shane Black dialogue and humor we know so well. This was definitely more fun than Predators, and it didn’t try to rip off the first movie like Predator 2 basically did. Let’s not even talk about the abysmal pile of shit that are the AVP movies.
And it could be that I just had a weird and exhausting day beforehand and needed an escape out of reality. And it could be that I read a lot of critics abysmal reviews (nothing spoilery) and I was expecting a train wreck of epic proportions. But I had a lot of fun to be honest and was very entertained for the tight 1 hr and 40 minute film. And I see what Shane Black was trying to do. He was trying to create an original story that would expand the Predator mythos a little bit, while also not trying to create just a fan service film with too many references to the past films (there are a couple but it isn’t Force Awakens ridiculous). He and fellow co-screenwriter Fred Dekker also tried to actually create characters with personalities in this as well. The two standouts are definitely Treante Rhodes and Sterling K. Brown. I also liked Boyd Holbrook, Jacob Tremblay, Thomas Jane, and Keegan-Michael Key. I actually cared when some of them are eventually offed.
The story develops as you go, but it starts out with the same title font letters and same music as the original, a crash, a soldier getting some alien tech and sending it to a PO Box to keep out of government hands, which somehow his son gets a hold of, with that predator, and another, bigger predator want back, because they both have alternate agendas. That’s as vague as I’m going to get. The film has a MacGuffin, and has an interesting idea of where the sequels can go, but the last three minutes of the film, including the shaky CGI, I’m not so sure it could work but who knows. Anyway, the story cares about the characters while also trying to move the action and story along.
Now the film does have its problems. And some of the problems are bigger than others. Olivia Munn has to be the most unbelievable scientist since Denise Richards in The World Is Not Enough, and when she is firing weapons and spouting off Shane Black dialogue, she is definitely out of her league. The Preddogs, yes you read that right, are in theory a good idea, but in execution are a complete CGI mess. So is the giant ultimate Predator you have seen in the movie. There is a lot of good CGI work as well though, and the good stuff does outweigh the bad.
The semi-finale in the woods has a couple of problems. The editing is extremely chopping and some characters that I thought had died, hadn’t, and I was trying to keep up who was where and what they were doing. Needless to say the first half of the film is infinitely better than the second. And that scene Olivia Munn had cut because of that sexual deviant guy that was in the scene with her, I wish they would’ve re-filmed that with someone else because Olivia Munn kind of just shows up in the film with no real introduction.
But the action is 80s/early 90s B movie solid. The Predator kills are some of the best of the series. I enjoyed the fact that Shane Black acknowledges that the other films exist and didn’t try to do a straight up remake or sequel. He was trying to do something different. He actually cared about the story and where it could go. And while the final 3 minutes are CGI shoddy as fuck, I could see where they could take it if the effects get a little bit better. At first I thought this MacGuffin, I promise I won’t spoil what it is, was going to reveal to be something else. Something bigger, more WTF, more throwback cameo, and more shocking. If you’ve seen the movie message me privately and I’ll tell you what I thought. If what I thought came to fruition, I think it would’ve been much better than what came out. Still, I give it points for trying.
This is the perfect movie this weekend to just shut off your brain and get lost into. I had a lot of fun. The film is action packed, it’s humor works, mostly, and I enjoyed the Predator kills, technology, and weaponry. Next time, Black should focus on really polishing the script and he could give us something really, truly special. But for now, we have this, and hey, I know it’s not saying much, but it is the best since the first, and at least it won’t make you want to Predator laser cannon your own head to never have to experience AVP again…
My Rank of Predator Films:
2. The Predator
3. Predator 2
5. Aliens Vs. Predator: Requiem
6. Aliens Vs. Predator