The Predator (2018)

2019 #28
Shane Black | 107 mins | download (UHD) | 2.39:1 | USA & Canada / English & Spanish | 15 / R

The Predator

Some films take me a while to review because I just don’t get round to them. Some take time because I need to coalesce my thoughts. Others, I barely have any thoughts in the first place. The trickiest are the ones where I feel like there are many thoughts, but I have little idea how to express them. The Predator is definitely in that final camp. Why? Well, I thought it was quite a poor film… but I also sort of enjoyed it. Not in a Gods of Egypt way (that was kinda “so bad it’s good”; or maybe “so strange it’s good”), nor in a “I can see what they were going for, they just couldn’t quite get there” way, but in a… well, there’s the rub. The film undoubtedly has its problems, but it also has bits I was okay with; liked, even. What it feels like is a decent, middle-of-the-road-ish sci-fi actioner… that they then, for some unfathomable reason, deliberately dicked around with to make it kinda bad.

The reason I put it that way is the film’s sense of narrative, which is really messy. It feels like someone decided the movie was too long and so got the running time down by just pulling out scenes at random. There’s an extensive IMDb Trivia entry here that broadly explains what was changed in the edit and via reshoots, and that suggests it feels like a lot of stuff was chopped out because, well, it was. Other movies have survived such tinkering, but here it feels cack-handed. The end result doesn’t flow. You can follow it, but it’s oddly disjointed.

Other aspects suggest perhaps there were compromises on things like the age certificate. For example, at one point a female character is spared by the Predator because she’s naked. A vital piece of information for later? Um, no, it doesn’t come up again. So it’s gratuitous nudity? Well, not really, because it’s carefully shot so we don’t see anything. The film ended up going for an R, but perhaps they thought they’d have to make it PG-13? Either way, why is that ultimately pointless scene still in the movie?

“I don't care if you point a gun at me, so long as you don't get your tits out again!”

It’s not just the story and logic that’s mangled, there’s a real mishmash of tones as well. Writer-director Shane Black did such excellent work shepherding mixed moods in the superb Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, the perfect Nice Guys, and the best Iron Man film, but here he seems to have lost his handle on how to deliver the required blend of action, horror, and humour. Personally, I quite liked the humour, but sometimes it does just barge in out of nowhere. People who like their alien hunter action movies to be po-faced will not be impressed.

So, it’s an odd case all round. It’s an impossible movie to recommend because it’s certainly not good, but I also didn’t hate it as much as I feel I should’ve. It’s kind of a disaster, but it’s also… fine. Put it this way: one day I expect I’ll rewatch the Predator movies, and while I’ll probably skip AvP Requiem, I’ll include this one. Faint praise, I know.

Nonetheless, I really hope they make another Predator movie… mainly so I can see what they come up with for a title. Okay, sure, it’ll probably just be Predator: Meaningless Subtitle, but I live in hope they’ll continue this trend of adding a little something (pluralisation; the definitive article) and it’ll be called, like, Predatoring or something. (Hire me, Hollywood!)

3 out of 5

The Predator is available on Sky Cinema from today.

Alien vs Predator – Part 3

Having already published my thoughts on the two franchise starters and the remaining films in the Alien series (crikey, has it really been three months since that?), this is the concluding entry in my coverage of the Alien, Predator and Alien vs Predator franchises.

This time, I’ve covered the sole Predator sequel (to date [2015 note: times change]), and how the franchises fared as they came together to move into the new millennium. Be warned: things only get worse. Much, much worse.

2009 #17
Predator 2

“I’ve talked about the Alien sequels dramatically switching genres, but Predator 2 leaves them looking as if they couldn’t be more alike. Where Predator is a behind-enemy-lines/covert mission/jungle/war actioner, Predator 2 is an urban drugs crime police, erm, actioner… though both with a sci-fi twist, obviously.” Read more…

2009 #18
AVP: Alien vs. Predator
(Extended Version)

“Anderson manages to amalgamate a popular and acclaimed film franchise, its almost-as-beloved stablemate, and an equally popular and acclaimed comics & video game series, and then decimate all three in one 85-minute (without credits) swoop.” Read more…

2009 #19
AVPR – Aliens vs Predator: Requiem

“By not withholding the monsters, the characters’ dull lives become even duller. One of the Alien series’ strengths was in making the extraordinary (space travel!) seem mundane (space truckers), but AVPR makes the ordinary seem mundane, and that’s no achievement at all; in fact, that’s a great big failure.” Read more…


And that’s it.

Except not for long, because at some point I’ll surely share another three-film entry covering the various extended versions of the three Alien sequels. And then, of course, Robert Rodriguez is working on a Predator continuation/reboot, supposedly still called Predators, not to mention the much-discussed Ridley Scott reboot/remake/prequel of Alien. Each project has good people involved, but it remains to be seen if any of them can pull it off.

Still, you can’t get worse than AVPR, right?

Though, they said that about AVP

Alien vs Predator – Part 2

Five weeks ago (crikey, time flies) I began my series of reviews of the Alien, Predator and Alien vs Predator franchises with my thoughts on Alien: The Director’s Cut and the original Predator, both of which I’d seen before. Over the past few days I’ve moved on to the remaining Alien films, all of which I viewed in their original theatrical cuts and all of which were new to me.

Here’s a handy summary of what you may’ve missed, then, if you somehow had something better to do on a sunny summer weekend than check blogs every day.

2009 #14
Aliens

“Where Alien is a Horror Movie — but in space — Aliens is a War Movie — but in space. The central characters are a team of marines, as opposed to the original’s ordinary guys; where the first film’s design was dark, shadowy and oppressive, here it’s all gleaming tech, tanks and guns and spaceships and the like; and, just to underline the point, the score is full of military drums.” Read more…

2009 #15
Alien³

“Even if in some ways 3 combines the first two — single Alien, claustrophobia, unarmed heroes; but there are lots of them, most with experience of killing — it adds enough variety, especially stylistically… it soon turns dark, dirty and decrepit, abandoning both the the military sheen of Aliens and the old tanker grime of Alien.” Read more…

2009 #16
Alien Resurrection

“the most notable differences are its black humour, where the tastes of both [writer] Whedon and director Jeunet make their mark, and how grotesque it is — almost two extremes walking hand-in-hand. The deformed, perverted Ripley clones; the Hybrid; the Ripley-Alien sex scene — there’s nothing like this in the other films, and that’s a grand thing.” Read more…


In the third and final part of this series I’ll be setting my sights on the allegedly-underrated Predator 2 and the much-hated pair of AVP and AVPR.

Alien vs Predator – Part 1

If you happen to keep an eye on my coming soon page or have been following me on Twitter, you may’ve noticed that I recently watched all eight films in the Alien, Predator and Alien vs Predator franchises, the majority of them for the first time.

As I’m sure you know, I normally only review films I’ve not seen before. In the interests of being thorough, however (and following in the footsteps of Casino Royale, Cube, and the first three… well, really, all the Star Wars films), I’ve also reviewed the only two I’d seen before — perhaps unsurprisingly, Alien and Predator themselves.

2009 #13a
Alien: The Director’s Cut

Alien feels unchanged. It’s been said many times before but, first and foremost, it’s a horror movie — it just happens to be one set in space with plenty of sci-fi trappings… Whatever effect Scott’s trims may have had, they haven’t made it any less effective in this regard” Read more…

2009 #16a
Predator

“it’s an entertaining war flick that turns into a sci-fi/action/horror skirmish thingy — but it doesn’t have the same finesse that imbues Alien and its sequel.” Read more…


Reviews for the remaining six films won’t be too far behind.