The Predator (2018): ‘And What Went Wrong?’ – A Film Review

 

Introduction

Back in 1987, John McTiernan’s Predator brought us a sci-fi/horror classic creature. The film was well crafted with characters being hunted down one by one by an invisible and superior foe, that took brave men and brought them down to the point of losing themselves to fear. It was followed by two sequels that, for any faults, kept to this mythology and successfully added creative ideas to this creature – the predator. We also had Aliens Vs Predator and its sequel but this proved difficult to bring to the screen. Now, Shane Black, who acted in Predator and has had some success writing and directing for films like Iron Man 3 – though this was a disappointment. Naturally to continue a successful franchise we should have actor Shane Black as writer/director for The Predator. What we get is some combination of Alien Resurrection, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Resident Evil, Jurassic World, Iron Man 3, Star Trek (2009), Star Trek III: Search for Spock and Prometheus 2 (Alien: Covenant). I’ll explain why…

 

Pitfalls from Other Bad Films Part 1

For a director who has stressed the importance of an R rating and the practical effects as well as the importance of understanding the Predator universe, we got something truly horrible. So many sequels focus so much on ‘expanding the universe’ and ‘upping the ante’ that they forget what the film was even meant to be about in the first place. Though I won’t criticise the change in genre from horror to action, I will change the tonal differences that rob the predator of its presence on screen. We have a stealth monster that is easily seen and therefore gets into bigger brawls whilst expanding technologies to the silliness of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines – controlling other machines remotely. Whilst the plot focuses on poor and annoying characters whilst being weak in concept to the point of recalling Jurassic World’s friendly raptors: really, we’re doing this? Exploring the space elements is okay, but having Star Trek III: Search for Spock’s Commander Kruge (Christopher Lloyd) on the bridge with his dogs as he fires on another ship feels weird. Later we also get the translator and, borrowed from Star Trek, a one up on the controversial underwear scene.

 

Pitfalls from Other Bad Films Part 2

Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. If none of that was enough to put you off, we have a plot point taken from Alien Resurrection and just as poor. SPOILERS: A predator, human hybrid: a ‘Super Predator’. END OF SPOILERS. Just forcing to up the ante as much as it can be forced. Some of the downfalls of Resident Evil included killing characters off with lasers and monsters that are all show but no action, and this particularly applies if the character was the protagonist; very unfortunately, we see the same here with The Predator. Whilst Shane Black, for some reason, also places in something from his days with Iron Man 3 – the suits, and why? This all comes across leaving the film much like Prometheus 2, it only feels like a Predator film for small fractions of the film. The film is very exposition heavy and characters learn of everything far too quickly, whilst other plot points aren’t needed or feel silly: SPOLERS. Why do we need to know why they take spines/skulls? Trophies was great for the mythology and it was mostly the skulls not the spines that they took anyway. END OF SPOILERS.

 

Saving Graces

For all the striking faults of the film, and there are many, there are some good elements too. Though a lot of the humour is misplaced and the dialogue heavy on exposition, with many characters making for a cluttered script, the acting does make the most of what it can and it helps to make the characters more memorable. Not much of a reason for them to all be there and they can make it cheesy at times but it still adds a little personality to The Predator. Despite this the lead character doesn’t have much personality himself, only that others describe of ‘how strong’ a warrior he is. The soundtrack relies heavily on Predator and this does help the film quite a bit. Though sometimes brief and sometimes missing important elements of suspense, like the aforementioned stealth, the action sequences can be quite effective, though not too brutal. The Predator’s come off the most powerful in these scenes, though some characters deaths are foolishly handled. SPOILERS: One character is built up as the kind of character you’d like a slow or even just memorable death for, but much like Boba Fett, you blink and they’re gone. END OF SPOILERS.

 

Conclusion

The Predator is plagued with problems and seems to get so much wrong, whilst only adding ill to the expanding mythology of the Predator universe. Though there are some good moments and some good performances, it just doesn’t bring this film to be anywhere near the quality of the rest. Despite hoping for more Predator movies, the hope is that this one is quickly forgotten and nothing from it is brought into canon. As one running ‘joke’ ponders the term of ‘Predator’ for these aliens and ends up just as an insult to the rest of the franchise, so does this film. It is just so strange that the actor Shane Black, from Predator no less, manages to make a film that seems to suggest his own preoccupations with action sequels and comes off like a five-year olds script for the film – he should know and do better. He doesn’t just write terribly, Lethal Weapon was good, but obviously that was a long time ago.

 

Synopsis

A Predator lands on earth and a sniper manages to steal his weaponry, sends it to his kid and begins a hunt by the Predator for his things, which is tied to the Predators interest in the planet earth.

 

Ratings

Entertainment:

starfish starfish starfish starfish starfish

Performances:

starfish starfish starfish starfish starfish

Predictability:

starfish starfish starfish starfish starfish

Technical:

starfish starfish starfish starfish starfish

 

A Note on My Reviews

Please read ‘On Reviews‘ for a guide to how I write film reviews. Any spoilers are appropriately marked and, though I personally prefer to know little about a film before seeing it, there is a synopsis below the review for any who wish to see one.

 

Films Mentioned

Alien Covenant (d. Ridley Scott USA/UK/Australia/New Zealand/Canada 2017)

Alien Resurrection (d. Jean-Pierre Jeunet USA 1997)

Aliens Vs Predator (d. Paul W.S. Anderson USA/UK/Czech Republic/Canada/Germany 2004)

Iron Man 3 (d. Shane Black USA/China 2013)

Jurassic World (d. Colin Trevorrow USA 2015)

Predator (d. John McTiernan USA/Mexico 1987)

Resident Evil (d. Paul W.S. Anderson UK/Germany/France/USA 2002)

Star Trek (d. J. J. Abrams USA/Germany 2009)

Star Trek III: Search for Spock (d. Leonard Nimoy USA 1984)

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (d. Jonathan Mostow USA/Germany/UK 2003)

The Predator (d. Shane Black USA/Canada 2018)

 

Further Reading

rottentomatoes.com

metacritic.com

Official Site

Interview with Shane Black

Interview with the Man behind the Mask

Interview with Shane Black

Get to the Choppa

Why is Predator so Good?

Predator Analysis

Predator Analysis 2

 

If you liked this

The Nun (2018): ‘Hollywood’s Contemporary Horrors’ – A Film Review

Iron Man 3 (2013) – A Film Review

Alien Covenant (2017)  – A Film Review

Jurassic World (2015) – A Film Review

 

This was an analytical review of….

 

The Predator (d. Shane Black USA/Canada 2018)

 



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