1987’s Predator is a undeniable classic and the Predator as a cinematic creature is one of the most popular pop culture icons of all time. Whether it was films, comic books, Video games or toys and countless other merch, the Predator has kept up it’s presence in the public eye as a household name for decades it’s popularity among it’s fans rarely ever wavering. The odd thing about that is that as far as a film series goes, the results have been a less than perfect.
The original starring Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of the best sci-fi/action movies of all time, it’s 1990 sequel Predator 2 was a very different film and not as well received, but still featured a ton of cool additions to the Predator lore and I grew up watching it and loving it just as much as the original. I still remember my dad gave me a VHS copy of it taped off of HBO that I watched religiously. I was obsessed with all things Predator especially the Dark Horse comic books back then. Strangely enough the Predator would not return to the big screen again until 2004’s Alien VS Predator film which was a dream come true…until people actually saw the movie. As a fan of both creatures and franchises, I loathed that film and thought it was completely embarrassing. The follow up, Alien VS Predator: Requiem is not a good film either, but I actually get more enjoyment out of it than in it than it’s predecessor. It has a much more badass Predator than the goofy AVP ones and it at least wears it’s R rating proudly where AVP is neutered with a PG-13 rating. 2010 saw the release of Predators which I felt was a step in the right direction in comparison to the two team up films. I actually enjoyed it a great deal and loved that it treated the material seriously and with a bit more respect even if it feels like a loose remake of the original at times. Still it didn’t light the box office on fire and that was it for a while on the Predator font. The less said about the entries to the Alien series such as Prometheus and Covenant the better. So with that out of the way, lets finally talk The Predator….
Directed by Shane Black who starred in the original and directed films such as Iron Man 3 and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, The Predator at least seemed to have the right pedigree to start off with, along with Fred Dekker writing (Night of the Creeps, The Monster Squad) there was a bit of a reason to be excited. I myself hoped that THIS would be the Predator film to bring the franchise back to box office success and make a Predator film an event again. No matter what I will always be excited to watch a new Predator film, unfortunately, this particular Predator film is NOT the one I or other fans had hoped it would be. The Predator is a mess, but it is an entertaining mess. It is equal parts awesome and silly, really cool and really dumb. It is clear there were too many cooks in the kitchen on this one and I really am interested in hearing all the stuff that went into the production of this flick.
I really wont get into the plot or spoilers as there is nothing revolutionary here and it’s the cast for the most part that is the highlight of the film. It features a pretty entertaining ensemble of actors who form our new team of “mercenaries”, such as Thomas Jane (The Mist), Boyd Halbrook (Narcos, Logan), Keegan Michael Key (Key and Peele), Trevonte Rhodes (Moonlight) Sterling K. Brown (Black Panther), Olivia Munn (X-Men Age of Apocalyspe) and Yvonne Strahovski (Dexter) among others, all of who bring some laughs to the film in one way or another. The films sense of crude R-rated humor is definitely it’s best attribute. It may turn some people off, but our crowd was really into it. The violence and gore is another plus for the film, as it pulls no punches there and has some really outlandish moments. So yes The Predator is an entertaining film, but the plot is unfortunately it’s weakness. Things just get really goofy once Boyd Halbrook’s son becomes entangled in the plot, even though this leads to probably my favorite moment in the film, it still feels like its going downhill from there. The film is ALL over the place and feels chopped to hell. The whole thing feels undercooked in a bad way as if it started shooting without the script and story being truly refined as the last act just gets too silly and outlandish for it’s own good and the actual ending is eye roll inducing. Additionally it’s subpar cgi in certain scenes really take you out of the film whether it’s the new “super predator” who is completely cgi or his hunting pred-dogs who look too much like Predators to make sense. Neither of these two creatures are believable enough to help you suspend disbelief and the movie suffers from the disconnect it creates.
Having said that, The Predator is STILL 100% a fun time at the theater worth checking out, so grab some friends, grab some popcorn and go along for the crazy (and silly) ride. I don’t doubt that most Predator fans will still find this film enjoyable in some form, I did, even if I was disappointed that it didn’t turn out to be the GREAT Predator film I have wanted since the original. Hopefully this one makes enough money so that we get another chance to achieve that in the future.