P.J. Starks, the man behind the Volumes of Blood franchise, a writer, director, and producer, has shared with us his review of The Predator, written and directed by Shane Black.
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When a young boy accidentally triggers the universe’s most lethal hunters’ return to Earth, only a ragtag crew of ex-soldiers and a disgruntled science teacher can prevent the end of the human race.
When I first heard this film was being made by the same guys who conceived The Monster Squad, it was difficult not to be excited. A new movie from the creators of a beloved film from my childhood! One I’d watched a gazillion times. I had a nerdgasm to put it lightly, however, I did my best not to fanboy out and watch the film with unbiased eyes.
The films set up is as simple as the synopsis reads, however, they leave out a few key details underselling what these guys are setting out to achieve. Nevertheless, I’ll begin with the few things that I didn’t particularly care for.
THE BAD: One of the things I looked forward to was seeing someone get back into the Predator costume. A flesh and blood actor portraying a rubber-suited and green glowing blooded baddie. While we did get your classic predator, it was only for a portion of the film. Inevitably our masked villain from space would be replaced by a bigger, more ferocious and way too computer-generated looking version of the titular movie monster we’ve all come to love so much. This decision made me groan. I understand what they were going for, but I find it hard to believe they couldn’t find a seven-foot-tall stuntman and suit him up in something that made him look larger than life.
My other issues with the film are nitpicky at best.
I usually have no problem with the use of the word “fuck”, as a matter of fact, I welcome it in a lot of ways. I feel that it is underused in many films. I say it when I stub my toe and know so many others who do the same, so when I watch PG-13 horror and the character aren’t saying it, well… it bugs the fuck outta me. Nevertheless, I also feel there is a limit in films where sometimes it is overused and becomes distracting. This is the case in The Predator. The characters who need to be saying it, say it all the time. And so do the scientists and the parents and the kids and even total strangers who only have a single line in the film. It gets to be too much. I also wanted more gore. There’re some great kills in the film, but with the amount of carnage we get on screen; there was way too much CGI blood and way too little practical grue. The original film is bloody, but not in excess. The set up for this film warrants quite a bit of the red stuff and while we get it in pixelated droves, we’re let down by the fact that what little actual gore effects we do get are computer enhanced. It was a little disappointing.
THE GOOD: It’s 2018 and felt like I was transported back to the 1980’s. The Predator screamed the era when so many amazing sci-fi horror films pioneered the industry. Shane Black and Fred Dekker managed to write and direct a film that felt so genuine to that period, it was like watching a previously unreleased movie from 1987. Because of this, it created an incredible air of fun. At the end of that day, it’s just a fun popcorn science fiction horror romp. The filmmakers obviously had a vision with what they planned to do and incorporated a lot of nods and nuances from the previous films. Such as the inclusion of certain themes built into the score. There are a few other Easter Eggs along the journey and I won’t ruin those, but you’ll catch them when they happen.
What I absolutely loved most about this film was the decision to go with two specific types of people for the heroes. First is the military team portrayed by Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Keegan-Michael Key, Alfie Allen, Augusto Aguilera, and Thomas Jane, who steals the show. These soldiers are not your elite medal winners we often see, but rather a ragtag group of broken war-torn veterans struggling to put their lives back together amid various personal struggles with post-traumatic stress disorders. They don’t want to save the day. They’re like John McClane. Men thrust into an impossible situation where certain death is staring them in the face. For these characters, it sounds a lot like war and because of this, they all have understood reservations. This ever-changing narrative was a nice surprise and watching their flippant response to the danger unfolding was a fresh take on what could have easily been another trope. We get a strong-willed no bullshit heroine with Olivia Munn’s character, which is always great. And what makes it even better is she’s not some specially trained government agent, but a pretty average geneticist. She gives a solid performance holds her own in a very testosterone driven action adventure flick. In case you’re wondering I’m not going to go on and on about the scandal if you want opinions about that InStyle and everyone else has you covered. Lastly, I must mention the performance that struck a real chord with me. Jacob Tremblay’s portrayal of Rory McKenna, a misunderstood child living with Autism was the icing on the blood-soaked alien infested cake. As the parent of a child with Autism, his sensory and social issues resonated strongly with me. Watching some of the situations he dealt with throughout the film were the same problems I’ve watched my own son struggle to understand and control. Mental health seemed to be an ongoing element that helped to drive the story and I appreciated that very much.
On the surface, this was a fun-filled mindless action flick chocked full of blood and horror. Below the surface, Black and Dekker made some fresh and enjoyable creative choices that took this movie to a fantastic level I wasn’t expecting. Not every film is made for every person. I know this. The film isn’t going to set any new records or necessarily change the landscape, but the level of enjoyment I got from the movie and character development was far more than anticipated. I highly recommend anyone and everyone to check it out.
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