The Predator

I didn’t get to see THE PREDATOR until after the world had already estimated its coordinates somewhere in the hostile territory between disappointment and disaster. Maybe that prepared me for the sloppy last stretch (it seems like some connective tissue must’ve been lost in editing or reshoots) and a thudding comedy riff or two involving a character with Tourette’s. And I guess a couple subpar quasi-science discussions, sometimes involving “the spectrum.” Also, is it just me or are these people weirdly unsurprised to see aliens?

But everything else in the movie tears its gear off and covers itself in mud to prove it’s a true warrior of entertainment. This is a funnier Predator movie, one full of joyful, gory mayhem, clever dialogue and inventive action beats. Let me give you an example from the opening. Decorated army sniper Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook, JANE GOT A GUN) witnesses the crash of a Predator ship and pulls an extra-terrestrial helmet and gauntlet out of the wreckage before catching a glimpse of the camouflaged alien pilot (6’9 1/2″ parkour artist Brian A. Prince) stringing up another soldier. Panicked, McKenna accidentally fires the wrist weapon, slicing his friend’s corpse in half and dumping intestines and blood onto the cloaked Predator, revealing its location and appearance.

I mean, you love that, right? I love that. We all, in my opinion, love that. That’s what movies are for right there.

Having told a dirty joke and then been slaughtered by the original 1987 Predator, Shane Black’s ghost has re-materialized behind the camera as director and reunited with his MONSTER SQUAD co-writer Fred NIGHT OF THE CREEPS Dekker. And there’s as much of a feel of their other work as of PREDATOR – the invasion of fantastical forces into the lives of normal suburban type people; a smart outcast kid (Jacob Tremblay, THE SMURFS 2) stressed by bullies and his parents’ divorce; a holiday (Halloween this time); a band of primarily male misfit underdogs on a secret quest with a little help from some monsters.

Holbrook made for a magnetic villain in LOGAN, and though his performance here does not seem to be setting the world on fire I think he carries the cynical badass hero role well. Weirdly he replaced Benicio Del Toro, who had been signed up until a scheduling conflict (maybe with SICARIO 2?) took him out. It’s hard to imagine that version. Anyway, McKenna becomes the sort-of-leader to a Bad News Bears of escaped military mental patients when the nefarious Project Stargazer dumps him into their therapy group to discredit his eyewitness testimony. The patients believe him for the simple reason that their bus happens to drive past just as the captured Predator busts out of a lab and runs across the roof like Tom Cruise. They also pick up Evolutionary Biologist Who Knows Too Much Dr. Casey Bracket (Olivia Munn, DELIVER US FROM EVIL), a scientist willing to go toe-to-toe with a Predator, even leap and hang onto his shoulders like a toddler to try to take him out. She can definitely hang, though there are maybe some questionable choices made in joking about her fear of what these fugitives might want to do to her.

The truth is they’re total sweethearts except when it comes to indiscriminately blowing up and slashing the throats of people working for this sinister UFO-chaser organization trying to kill them. Sterling K. Brown (Christopher Darden from The People v. O.J. Simpson) plays Traeger, a cocky, Nicorette-chewing smartass villain who seems to be having fun tormenting innocent people as his job. In a particularly inspired moment he puts on cool sunglasses to board his first UFO.

Of the team of badasses, Trevante Rhodes (MOONLIGHT) is the most excitingly charismatic, even if his above-averagely-named Nebraska Williams doesn’t get a huge amount to do. Keegan-Michael Key (DOLEMITE IS MY NAME) gets to tell jokes and Thomas Jane (THE CROW: CITY OF ANGELS) is funny when not saddled with the Tourette’s stuff. By the way, in my experience if you tell someone after the movie that his character is named Baxley because STONE COLD/I COME IN PEACE/ACTION JACKSON director Craig R. Baxley was the stunt coordinator and 2nd unit director for the original PREDATOR, they may roll their eyes at you. FYI.

(Stunt coordinator/2nd unit director for this one is Lance Gilbert, who used to be a stunt double for Mel Gibson and Paul Walker.)

One of the few things I enjoyed about the A vs. P duology was trying to distinguish the different Predators as individuals, watching what they were doing between kills and trying to understand what’s up with them. THE PREDATOR has a whole I COME IN PEACE style inter-alien conflict going on, and I love that. Meanwhile the kid figures out how to operate Predator-tech and wears its giant battle gear for trick-or-treating. And remember in PREDATOR 2, the shot legendary to anyone who has ever been a 13 year old boy where the Predator rips a guy’s spine out in the subway tunnel? Black doesn’t forget to represent that important aspect of their culture. They’re popping off heads, throwing people through walls, ripping off limps, crushing skulls… just having a great time during their visit, you know? They even use those big spider teeth on people! It seems impossible but others have corroborated my belief that somehow we’ve never seen them do that before.

Reportedly a cameo was offered to Arnold, but he didn’t want to come back only for a cameo. I wondered if they offered Danny Glover? I feel like I would be almost more excited to see him reappear. He impressed the Predators so much they gave him a trophy. But I suppose on the Predator timeline he’s 7 years older than even current day Danny Glover, i.e. too old for this space shit. There is a minor tie-in to part 2 in that Jake Busey plays a character with the same last name as Gary Busey’s character, and working in a related field.

And I didn’t catch this at all, but apparently Francoise Yip (RUMBLE IN THE BRONX) is in there somewhere as “Tracking Supervisor” – so is that her same character from ALIENS VS. PREDATORS REQUIEM? A kind gesture to those movies, I guess.

I’d bet one thing people wanted form this that they didn’t get was a “BIGGER, BADDER” Predator movie. And they did this in one sense. I guess this is a SPOILER but I knew from the trailers that there is a Predator that’s like ten feet tall or something. So that’s a plus. He does some funny shit. He is not a guy in a costume, and I learned from Twitter that the martial artist TJ Storm (BLACK COBRA, THE MARTIAL ARTS KID, KICKBOXER: VENGEANCE) did some of the mo-cap for him. I thought that made alot of sense because the pose in the still Storm used reminds me of his poses in all the photos he posts from vacations, red carpets and comic-cons.

Anyway, yeah, there’s a big ass Predator. But kinda like how THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE has never been only about Leatherface, the greatness of the Predator series was never just about the Predators. PREDATOR is both a prime example and a smart deconstruction of the pumped up state of action movies in 1987. It’s about the sweaty muscles of Schwarzenegger and Weathers, the growling macho of Ventura and Landham, the preposterous arsenal of gigantic guns firing what seems like 100 million rounds into some trees for five minutes… and not hitting one god damn thing. It’s also about the location – the pitiless heat of the jungle, where the human war going on is only the second most violent current event. And PREDATOR 2 has its own amped up vibe in its then-near-future Los Angeles where police pretty much wage a guerrilla war in the streets with heavily armed gangs, and Morton Downey Jr. runs around reporting on it.

THE PREDATOR has a totally different thing going on. It repeats the ensemble approach, but intentionally undercuts their heroics with humor instead of erecting them as fifty foot iron statues like Schwarzenegger and Glover. And though the wonderfully bombastic score by Henry Jackman (ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER) helps make it feel like the same world as part 1 and 2’s heightened hellholes of hostility, it’s just, like, the place that E.T. landed. Which is intentional, and funny, but if you demand bigness or badness, you will be deprived. If you just want to see a Predator bite a guy’s head, though, you’re in luck.

Personally I’m into it. I definitely see some of MONSTER SQUAD’s lovable Little Rascals spirit in the bonding between these goofy fuckups and even McKenna’s ex-wife (Yvonne Stahovski, I, FRANKENSTEIN), who hears what’s going on, produces a rifle in about 2 seconds and demands to help. I like that every Predator movie has a different approach. I just hope this won’t be the last one.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 26th, 2018 at 11:36 am and is filed under Action, Reviews, Science Fiction and Space Shit. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

64 Responses to “The Predator”

  1. The flick is an editorial mess, I legit thought a reel was missing. But That didnt stop me from loving the hell out of this one.


    Werent you kinda hoping the gift to mankind to fight predators was gonna open up and Arnold would pop out?

    Or at least Danny Glover or Adrien Brody?

  2. I’m sure this won’t be the last one. It’s too much of a recognizable brand. However I can see them not instantly rushing into a sequel and then hiring a studio hack to do something, that is basically a remake of part 1 (“Let’s give the fans what they want!”). Or maybe teaming up with Amazon for a TV show that may or may not be great, but cancelled after one season because they forgot to advertise it.

  3. Vern, thanks for mentioning the I Come in Peace overtones.

  4. Yeah ef the haters. My nephew and I had a whole lot of fun with this one. We are both on the spectrum by the way (with Asperger to boot) and we didn’t mind and appreciated the kid-character in this.*

    I do wonder if the mini-controversy that came up before this was released colored people’s view of it? There was only one part where I think the humor goes too far. Supposedly the turrets stuff was an idea Thomas Jane brought to it and everyone thought it was great and kept it going but I think the joke was played out very early on and not that funny to begin with. In regards to that we should talk about how good Olivia Munn was in this, I hope this leads to more roles for her in the future and I say that as someone who used to write her off.

    So yeah it’s a bit of a mess and it’s doubly-disappointing for a Shane Black joint but whenever I think back to it I remember all the fun parts and can’t really be mad at it. Plus it’s great to see such a big budget movie be so dementedly and gleefully gory. Been a long time since I’m a movie of this size this violent (or vulgar).

    *we do not speak for all autistic / Asperger people btw and the Autism is a superpower thing is ridiculous and I make fun of it all the time but I didn’t really mind it here. Compare to how awesome the kid is here to garbage like THE GOOD DOCTOR

  5. The main thing I keep hearing about this one is how bad the editing is. I’ve had several people mention to me that they didn’t know what was going on during most of the action sequences.

  6. This movie definitely had me appreciating Predators as I left the theater, since that one did a decent job recreating the tension and atmosphere of the first one that this one doesn’t even try to do. I was ready to poo-poo all over this and then I rented Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and realized “You know, The Predator wasn’t all that bad!” Olivia Munn and Boyd Holbrook aren’t all-timers but they have 10x the charisma of Pratt and Howard, the dialogue is clearly better, and the “evil scientist” plot that drives both movies at least has a few (ridiculous) twists and turns here that make it feel like a wacky off-the-rails production and not a boring, predictable slog.

    Things of note (SPOILERS):
    1) Sterling K. Brown’s death is so poorly done, I seem to be the only one I know who caught it. We’re going to find out in a few months it was done all in post and Brown had no idea they were doing that to him, like Han Solo’s digital head-dodge from Greedo, or the type of shit they would do to a star who died mid-production.

    2) Apparently the original ending is out there somewhere on the internet involving Edward James Olmos, Area 52(!), Predator Spiders and Trevante Rhodes joy-riding with two Predators on a tank. I want to see it, even though it sounds so bad I can’t believe they got as far as filming it.

    3) As I noted somewhere else, it’s weird Jake Busey has nothing to do and no role to play. They set him up as the wacky scientist, only to not kill him and then have a completely unrelated wacky scientist who must be another friend of Shane Black’s play a significant role at the end. Bizarre.

    4) Anyone else think it’s weird that other than Alfie Allen, who for all we know isn’t dead and is running around with one arm – the Predator doesn’t actually kill any of the main characters? They literally all die via wacky accident or heroic suicide, which leaves The Predator(s) running around killing an endless wave of disposable and interchangeable black-clad nobodies the entire freaking movie. (What is this, a Marvel movie or something?) Considering the enduring greatness of the first one is the fact that we grow to love these incredible characters and then have to sadly watch them die horrible deaths, it’s like a weird cop-out that the movie goes in this direction. (I have to admit I really loved Nebraska Williams and wouldn’t want to see him getting his spine ripped out though)

  7. Walking out of the theater after this I said to myself: “Man, that movie does not give a fuck if you like it or not.”

    I’ve never really experienced something like that where it felt like the movie just loved being itself and if I happened to enjoy it as well? Then GOOD FOR ME.

    There sure are plenty of leaps in logic and whole chunks of script that seem to be missing here and there but I laughed throughout the whole thing and definitely had a lot of fun. The original Predator is locked in a Dylan and Dutch like sweaty reunion grip with Die Hard as my top action movie of all time and this movie seems to be FULLY aware that no sequel will ever live up to it. So y’know what? It does its own thing.

    Fuck yeah.

  8. I’m not even sure if most people have heard of that controversy, because it WAS surprisingly mini! It’s nice to see something resolved that quickly and everybody is okay with “Well, I didn’t know until now either!” as apology for once.

  9. The last sentence sounded pretty assholish in a Republican way, but what I meant was thatuntil further notice I, and apparently the rest of the world, believe Shane Black’s explaination, that his friend never told him why he REALLY went to prison and he wouldn’t put him in his movies if he had known.

  10. i had fun and it was pretty funny, but it was also mess. some quick thoughts:

    1) what happened to the pit bull? they showed it running toward the rv, then it cuts away, and we never see it again. that was weird.
    2) speaking of dogs, the brain damaged alien hunting dog that helps olivia munn was a really funny touch.
    3) “i heard you wrote the book on evolutionary biology” haha, dude, come on. dont just write down the first thing that comes to your mind.
    4) i appreciated the climate change plot point.
    5) the autism thing was really really silly, but i liked the kid. he seemed like a real kid, kind of tired and rubbing his runny nose all the time.
    6) i just like the predators. i would watch an entire prequel just about how they got their technology.
    7) speaking of technology, why do the predators even want autism? even if autism makes you super smart, none of our autistic people can produce anything like what the predators already have. so whats the point? and i thought it was pretty lame that the big predator essentially regards a juvenile drone operator as earth’s greatest warrior. didn’t make a whole lot of sense the way it was presented.
    8) the stuff with the main guy’s ex-wife seemed strangely unresolved. like winchester says above, seemed like a reel was missing out of this flick.

  11. Well, I’m glad you liked it more than me. I thought it was a shockingly poor script for Black, and it really bothered me how much humor was derived from men making women uncomfortable.

    Neal, it definitely did bother me that the Predator does not pick off any of the ragtag gang of ex-soldiers off one by one. And seeing a giant CGI predator doesn’t help get me interested.

    I read that Black has Tourette’s (he tweeted about it) so I’m surprised to hear it was Jane’s idea. Even if Black thought it was self-deprecating I don’t see how making fun of Tourette’s outbursts counts as funny in 2018. And Munn’s character doesn’t even recognize the symptoms. A smart scientist ought to recognize involuntary outbursts.

    Yeah, I hated this more than AVP. I do not want to see Holbrook in Predator armor fighting more cgi predators. Pay Arnold whatever he still costs, or maybe even go back to the hunting planet from Predators.

  12. Fred: Maybe I’m getting mixed up then and it was the lead suggesting to play the role as having PTSD? I remember it was from a podcast interview with Dekker so maybe misheard. I know Black said part of the reshoot/post-rewriting was bumping up the importance of the kid’s autism.

    I see a lot of people propping up PREDATORS now and I still feel it’s a movie that does everything right… on paper. I still think it fails to excel at a single thing it sets out to do.

    Regardless hope this helps Black & Dekker get their own stuff off the ground. Dekker did MONSTER SQUAD and NIGHT OF THE CREEPS and does not deserve director-jail (and while we’re at it ROBOCOP 3 is not THAT bad, there are directors who are making millions of dollars and have done far, far worse and still get to work). Shane Black is one of the best screenwriters ever so I hate seeing him getting tied to “IPs” and “Franchises” and with this one getting a whole bunch of studio notes and after-the-fact tinkering and would much rather him do his own stuff.

  13. I really enjoyed PREDATORS. This one not so much. The performances including Munn aren’t bad but the script is a mess.

  14. I really wanted to like it but I just couldn’t. Way too sloppy and too much of the humor just didn’t work. Really terrible cgi at times as well.

    One detail I did like, that I’m not even sure was intentional, was that it finally explained how the predator in part 2 knew how to finish Danny Glover’s “One Ugly…” line. Apparently all the Predator helmets are sending a video feed back to predator HQ! He must have studied the first ones fight with Arnold.

  15. I was so-so on this- which is fair enough I guess. This was one of the big anticipated releases for me right up til when the trailer dropped, because that trailer was awful. It just felt drab, with that slightly dim and flat look that defined the Phase 1 MCU moves, and that was pretty much my most hated movie look (to be fair tho, the Marvel movies have caught up and the newer ones tend to look sick – adore GOTG2 and Thor 3’s visuals especially).

    I did love the bit where the guts fell on the alien tho and thats how we know where the alien is lying down though. I also liked the alien dogs. I also like Boyd H, he reminds me of what Malfoy out of Harry Potters 1-8 would look like if he got buff.

    The portrayal of autism did bug me – on the one hand the ‘autism is a superpower’ thing is played out, and I’ve seen a lot around about how that stereotype can be harmful. I also think portraying autism as something that could make you a better predator (The Accountant) is treading into some very dodgy territory – I don’t think that was what Black intended but again I think he could’ve been more sensitive.

    The main thing that rubbed me wrong on the autism stuff though is that they actually gave up on it half way through. We’re shown very clearly that this kid can’t hack loud noises, has trouble with dogs, and can feel awkward and anxious around people and it takes the time to establish those as, like, the things that trigger or over-stimulate him. But then as soon as they’re set up they get thrown out the window cos he meets a lot of new people, dogs and alien dogs, and there’s a lot of very loud noises in the last hour he just doesn’t give a shit about or apparently notice. I didn’t get it.

    If Black was saying exposure therapy could cure autism that’d be weird but’d make sense structurally, but he doesn’t even say that. He just sets these things up and then ignores it cos it would be inconvenient to work around these things when delivering a big loud third act that also has dogs in. It really bugged me. If you’re gonna make a character autistic then, i dunno, make them autistic. Stand by that decision! It’d be interesting to see what sort of payoff an action movie doing the standard third act could do that accommodated what it needed to. I don’t hate the movie but I think the work Black turned in on this front in particular was just, I dunno, beneath him.

  16. I walked out the theater after this feeling very happy that Black and Dekker made a franchise film that completely wore its attitude and personality on its sleeve. Absolutely loved it. Yeah, it’s not the smoothest slice of cinema but in the face of so much awesomeness, who cares?

    Also, I swear there was a brief Ice Cube cameo in this – he’s a guard that the bus transporting the loonies pulls up to at one point – but no one else I’ve talked to has mentioned seeing it.

  17. Apropos of nothing but, for some reason, PREDATOR 2 is the only movie or tv show my dog is interested in. Every time it’s on, she just perks up and fixates on it. She doesn’t do that for the original or any of the sequels, so it must just be that Danny Glover magic at work. We’ve taken to putting it on for her when fireworks are going off, in order to calm her down.

  18. Republican Cloth Coat

    September 26th, 2018 at 7:02 pm

    I did enjoy this. My nerd friend hated it. The tonal shifts are are jarring, but mostly intentional and funny, except when it goes completely po-faced. Our hero walking out of the bathroom = good. Our hero being thanked for his service = what. But maybe one makes the other work, at least here. I can’t recall a more confounding studio action film since Predator 2. So, success!

  19. I liked this one alright too. Admittedly, it’s easier to write about its fault than it’s merits. The action choreography surprisingly didnt hit my jollies as much as I thought it might. It’s right on the line of thumbs up to down. It’s got lots of loose ends, plot holes, and writing issues, but imo it’s still neck and neck with PREDATOR 2 for the number 3 slot in the series. (I’m sorry PREDATORS is the clear #2 ya’ll). It left me scratching my head after reading that Shane Black piece about action rules and not constantly doing violence and sound, but the humor balance was a nice throwback. There was way more of it than in prior movies, but it wasn’t as much irreverant let’s break the 4th wall type of stuff that drives me crazy. Also the movie went out of its way and largely succeeded to build an entertaining ensemble than lasts through most of the movie.

    btw thanks @neal2zod for acknowledging how some sequels can go really bad. JURASSIC WORLD FALLEN KINGDOM is an absolutely atrocious movie. Whenever any defenders or lukewarm reviewers bother to revisit it, I hope they’ll bother to comment again on Vern’s review that it was absolutely terrible.

  20. Predators (along with Jason Bourne) are among two of the most redundant films ever made.

    Also, no sorry Predator 2 > Predators.


    Although for the most part it’s more of a spiritual successor to THE MONSTER SQUAD. It’s a goofy, not very good kid’s movie with disembowelment.

  22. So I spelled “disembowelment” correctly, but not “the” or “and.”

    Fuck’s sake.

  23. The Undefeated Gaul

    September 27th, 2018 at 1:22 am

    I liked THE PREDATOR too, even though it’s objectively an uneven, sloppy mess of a film. Good to see plenty of people here were also able to look past its many flaws and see the good stuff and the fun that is definitely sprinkled in there, because talking to friends and reading most online reviews it’s just nothing but hatred, and I don’t think it deserves that. Despite the flaws there is still a spark of life in there, a bit of unique personality that will always make it better than any of the hundreds of generic, by-the-numbers PG 13 blockbusters that get released every year to RT scores of 50-65% while this gets 34% (you mean there’s people in the world who’d rather watch SKYSCRAPER than THE PREDATOR? I refuse to believe that)

    Even so, I do wonder why Shane couldn’t just make a better film. We know he’s got the talent, so why didn’t it come out? There had to have been a better story here, better developed characters, plus there’s no reason to have such sub-par casting across the board. It’s just such a shame he had to stumble with this film, because this needed to be good. I love all Predator films (I don’t count the AvP ones as part of it) and there’s very little I want more than to see the revival of big budget R-rated action/horror, but all that just went down the drain again.

  24. Oh man, I was sure I was going to like this movie in the same way that Vern did. I knew it was going to be a bit crap, but thought I’d appreciate the Shane Black factor, the gore and the originality they got away with. But I think this one was just TOO broken.

    It started well, and the first 20 minutes actually seemed like a real movie, but then…I don’t know. It was so stupid. I can enjoy stupid if it looks good, but it was filmed like an episode of a low budget tv show. And why set the entire thing at night? It looked like dog shit. And SPOILERS
    Why did the Predator who loved humans (so much so that he slaughtered dozens of them) sacrifice his life to bring us a goofy predator suit when the predators themselves had already established that it was global warming that was about to wipe us out, not predators?
    Why were so many characters established and then not given actual exits from the movie (ex-wife, Jake Busey, arguably that angry general, the pit-bull?!)?
    Why was the main guy promoted when he had seemingly murdered dozens of government agents? I don’t think they were a militia group, they were the actual government.

    One good moment that no one has mentioned and was (again) really weird. The kid literally murders a grown man (and presumably his family in the house), who, for no reason, throws a rock at the back of his head.

    I don’t know man, I thought this movie was kind of abysmal. It did actually make me feel like watching Ice T’s SURVIVING THE GAME for some reason though.

  25. I grant I haven’t seen it in a long time, but is PREDATOR 2 really so bad? My foggy recollection is that it’s pretty straightforward and fun, obviously not touching the original, but clearly superior to all the diluting conceptual clutter of every subsequent sequel. Surely it’s not inferior to the insubstantial PREDATORS, right?

  26. The Undefeated Gaul

    September 27th, 2018 at 7:54 am

    No, PREDATOR 2 isn’t bad at all. Definitely superior to the other two sequels, by a mile.

  27. “(you mean there’s people in the world who’d rather watch SKYSCRAPER than THE PREDATOR? I refuse to believe that)”

    I chose neither!

  28. PREDATOR 2 is easily the second best of the series.

    THE PREDATOR is a mess and quite bad in a lot of ways, but there is a lot there that I loved. If the guys on the bus had just driven themselves into a better film I’d have been very happy.

  29. I’d really like to see what they had before they panicked and reshot the the third act.

    The whole thing felt like it was bogged down by studio notes (“Faster! Move to the next scene faster! More callbacks! Jam the original theme in there as much as you can!”), but I was having fun with it for most of the first hour. I liked the idea or the loonies and a Rogue Predator and I was enjoying the team banter. However, once the team gets to the barn hideout and Traeger suddenly shows up via chopper, the movie loses a lot of steam. From what I’ve read, that’s the point where the reshoots really start to kick in.

    Oh and I thought Thomas Jane’s yelling and twitching (really liked when his twitching distracted the Predator) was funny! Sorry! When he suddenly loses his tourettes for no reason (I’m guessing the reason was studio notes/reshoots related), he becomes a boring background character.

  30. 2 things: I forgot to mention how much I loved the fact that the kid basically kills a dude, uses it to scare his tormentors, and then just moves along like nothing happened.

    Also, I loved the obligatory “Get to the chopper” line (and context) in this one. Far better than Dr. Facehands delivery in AVP:R

    Speaking of which, can I once again promote my fan cut of AVP movies, AVP: Annihilocalypse? I cut the AvP movies together (since the 2nd picks up right aftwr the first) and tried to cut out the humans asuch as possible and add better or at least more amusing music. Its 57 minutes of aliens versing predators! Search it on Vimeo!

  31. I’m glad some people enjoyed this one. I enjoyed a good chunk of it, but it’s also all over the place. A predator film written and directed by Shane Black should have been a slam dunk. I was excited enough for this movie to make it the first film I’ve seen in theaters since April. So I also can’t say that I wasn’t disappointed, even though I had read the early reviews and had adjusted my expectations accordingly.

    Here’s my nerdiest complaint. The Mega-Predator was a miscalculation. Making something bigger to make it cooler only works with kaiju. If anything, it just makes the action have less impact, especially since the Mega-Predator apparently can’t be hurt. The coolest part of the predator films is that the predators have to out think humans. It was a battle of wits. The predator had better tech, but he was also smart. By making the predator nearly invulnerable, you lose that aspect of the series.

    And when the predator says that the only true warrior he’s seen is McKenna, who didn’t see the “twist” coming? I’m pretty much done with the autism as a superpower trope. And the kid takes time away from the parts of the film that actually worked: the misfit soldiers. The lobotomized preda-dog was pretty great. And I really liked Sterling K. Brown as the villain. I feel like he hasn’t gotten enough of a shout out. I also thought that his demise was pretty hilarious (but apparently no one else was able to see it because it happened so quickly in the dark).

    It’s a frustrating movie because you could see the better film trying to break on through. I’m glad I saw it in theaters, though. It was enjoyable, it was funny, and it was a fucking mess.

  32. This movie has a ton of good stuff in it. Good ideas, good characters, good lines, good action beats, weird decisions, a light, breezy tone. It feels like the kind of movie I watch more frequently than better movies that ask more of you.

    That said, it is the sloppiest fuckin’ thing Shane Black has (and, one hopes, will) ever put his name on. It feels like about 35 of interstitial scenes were cut out, minimum. It’s like a joke with all the setups excised and the punchline changed so it’s just an open-ended escalation of the premise. I mean, it’s a funny premise, I guess, but it doesn’t have enough context for me to accept the reality of the situation the film presents to me at any given moment. And I want to. I want to see the version of the film that lets the plot roll out in the offbeat and seemingly offhand (but actually very precise) manner Black no doubt intended. Instead we get scenes where they suddenly have an RV and are in Yvonne Strahovski’s house even though Captain Leading Man thought he mailed the package to a post office box. Or where they apparently fly to Latin America from Georgia in a weather chopper. We’re just here and we don’t know why but it can’t be cut out or the next scene won’t make sense at all, so let’s just breeze past it and hope everyone is having too much fun to notice. I had fun but I noticed. I want to see the movie where these entertainingly unlikely scenes flow into other and build to a climax that feels natural.

    It just points out what I like about Black’s work. It’s a house of cards in the best possible way. You take these seemingly lightweight and insubstantial parts and deftly stack them just so until they build an impressive and high-reaching edifice. But you try taking just one of those cards away (as they certainly did here) and the whole fucking thing comes crashing down. I think the work of the average franchise hack is more modular than that. You can swap out parts without demolishing the whole. Black clearly doesn’t work that way, so you’re left with a whole bunch of threads and layers that probably were supposed to dovetail intriguingly but instead just feel like vestigial limbs.

    I mean, did I see this right? Did Black Panther’s uncle accidentally blow his head off out of nowhere? This should have been a devastatingly hilarious shock, especially coming so soon after him making the action promise to settle his unfinished business with the hero. Instead I blinked and missed it. I know Black knows how to set up and pay off a moment like that. Hell, a moment like that he’d probably start foreshadowing in Act I in ways you wouldn’t notice until the third time. Instead it comes out of nowhere and is forgotten just as fast. Like pretty much everything in the movie. No setup, weak payoff, but somewhere in the middle it was a good enough idea that it wasn’t a total waste of time.

    Please don’t do anything like this again, Mr. Black. I’ll support your projects no matter what, but Hollywood has warehouses full of monkeys with typewriters for this kind of make-it-up-as-you-go hackery. They have no appreciation for what you bring to the table.

  33. Mr. Majestyk:

    -McKenna had the package sent to a PO Box, but the mailman says it was sent to his house because he was late paying his dues or something.

    -The Predator’s escape pod landed in Mexico, not the ship. I have no idea where the ship landed because I have no idea where the movie took place. I read that there was a lot more traveling involved in the original third act. The studio wanted the reshoots to simplify everything.

    -Yes, a simple turn of the head is what blew off Sterling K. Brown’s face! Olivia Munn says “Hey, Traeger!!”, Traeger turns his head and the shoulder cannon blows his head off. I thought maybe the Predator mask that Munn had pulled out of Sterling’s pack seconds before had shot Sterling in the face, but NO! That death really sums up the super-rushed, lifeless feel of the reshot third act. I actually saw the movie twice so I could attempt to make sense of that moment (and a bunch of other moments in the film).

    I feel like Shane Black probably threw his hands up at some point and said “ugh can you take care of this shit?” to his buddy Fred Dekker. ‘Shane Black WILL NOT RETURN’ should have popped up on the screen after the last scene because we know he has no interest in making that sequel. IRON MAN 3 was all about getting the man *out* of the super-suit.

  34. wades: No, I got that about the PO box. It was very clearly established, because when he has his druthers, Black will clearly establish everything you need to know.

    (And even some stuff you don’t–I’m convinced he threw in a line of dialogue in NICE GUYS explaining that Gosling’s dead wife was British just in case the actress he hired to play the daughter couldn’t pull off an American accent, but then she did it just fine so it wasn’t necessary. But just in case, he thought ahead. “Be prepared,” that’s his motto. )

    But how did McKenna know that, though? He should have operated under the assumption that it was sent to the post office. That should have been their first stop. Maybe the PO box scene was the one with the child molester that got cut out.

    It’s a small thing, but him finding out, “Oh my god, I accidentally sent alien tech to my family, putting them in danger” is kind of a big deal in terms of plotting and character motivation. By having him think it’s safely in a government building prior to that, you allow him to spend time with the other escaped cons instead of immediately needing to rush after his family. That detail was there for a reason. So if you don’t see the moment when he learns the Predator will now be en route to his family’s house, then you’re missing a part where the urgency of the story is kicked up a notch. As is, we wonder when he learned this info, and why he wasn’t more worked up about it earlier. The guys just show up at the house and there’s no setup of where they are emotionally in terms of their commitment to this adventure. They’re just here to pick up a box but the meaning of the box being HERE and not THERE is that now this shit is personal. That’s what that whole setup with the PO box was supposed to accomplish. Lose that moment and you lose a vital story beat.

    See? Little things that studios think are no big deal, just slowing shit down, actually matter when the screenwriter knew what he was doing in the first place.

    And that giant thing in the opening sequence was just the escape pod? And the ship just happened to crash within chopper distance of the place (definitely Georgia–there are multiple signs) that McKenna just happened to mail the other items to? That’s…awfully convenient.

    Speaking of signs, the sign in front of the school welcoming “PARENTS & STDS” is without a doubt the funniest joke in the movie. More of that please.

    Also somebody says “Who taught you math?” which is a Gay Perry reference.

  35. The trouble begins with the setting, I get what they’re going for but setting your Predator movie in small town America just feels too small scale and boring (though it’s supposed to be Georgia? That makes it a little more interesting but I see it was filmed in Canada, so why pick to set it here? Why would the government build an alien housing facility here and not the desert like Area 51?)

    I’m glad to hear it’s maybe still worth a try but I think I made the right call to skip it in theaters and wait for watching it at home, it can be easier to forgive a movie’s faults when you spend less money to see it.

  36. The giant thing was the ship. We never see where it actually crash lands, though. I guess that was enough for the studio after they reshot the entire third act. “Yeah, the escape pod crashed in Mexico, but that was at the beginning of the movie. Audiences will probably forget about it!”

    Like I said, I’m pretty sure the Loonies were meant to travel in the original cut (definitely to Area 51 and I’m assuming to Mexico for the finale).

    Other scenes that are missing from this film:

    -The scene where McKenna is captured in Mexico

    -The scene where Olivia Munn somehow travels to the final showdown with the Super-Predator. She’s left behind when McKenna an co. jump on the ship and is MILES away from the crash site. Did she hitch a ride on the back ?

  37. Did she hitch a ride on the back [of the Predator Dog]?

  38. You know what though? I would watch it again right now. Fuck it. It’s dumb as shit and bleeding out but I like this mess of a movie.

  39. I’d watch it again, but I went on Bargain Tuesday and even $5.50 might have been too much. The film was tolerably dumb up until the last scene, which I knew would be awful but somehow exceeded my expectations as far as how bad the film could get. They couldn’t have done worse than Arnold being in the pod smoking a cigar and saying “Eef it bleeds we can keel it!” or some such nonsense, although might have been funny at least.

    Overall this felt like a Marvel movie with gore and f-bombs, with a dash of Shane Blackian magic like the scene where Olivia Munn is handcuffed to a chair dangling over a drop and an explosion blows the chair to pieces, miraculously freeing her. That was some LONG KISS GOODNIGHT shit right there.

    Honestly, I just wish the movie went full-blown buddy comedy with predators. It was about 70 percent there.

    I’ll catch it one home video disk though.

  40. Yeah I enjoyed it for the most part. Probably my second favorite Predator movie!

    But man… I think it could have been so much better if Fox had trusted Shane Black more. Just give the man free rein! He’s a proven talent! Forget about bad test scores from randos and negative online reaction based on script leaks.

  41. Haven’t seen this one yet, but I did just watch the original and PREDATORS, and I was favorably impressed with the latter. Great cast, great performances, nice locations and production design, solid action, good storytelling. Thumbs up. I’ll wait for video on this one.

  42. It’s obvious they were going for an 80s throwback “the incredible comes to suburbia” vibe but that doesn’t fit the Predator, you need somewhere hot and hellish like the jungle or gang ridden LA (remember, Gary Busey in Predator 2 tells us “it’s drawn to heat and conflict”)

  43. Also can I say how much I love PREDATOR 2?

    I love the 90s comic book feel even if that’s different from the first movie’s more grounded feel and I love the gritty feel a lot of early 90s movies had, PREDATOR 2 feels more like a slasher movie than the first.

    I think it’s one of the better sequels, not ALIENS or T2 caliber but way underrated.

  44. In case anyone is still wondering: according to the articles I’ve read Shane Black’s sex offender friend was a character who tries to hit on Olivia Munn in her first scene. Cutting him out explains why her introduction is so abrupt. That’s his only scene, and Black hiring him as a day player is likely the extent of his power without having the friend go through an audition process or getting approval from the company. So the movie’s problems go well beyond that one guy’s removal from the movie.

    And yet despite all that, I remembered what I liked about it and that was enough to get to the ending. All this back-and-forth makes me want to see it again too. Maybe in a different theater just to make sure there wasn’t a problem with the brightness of the projection.

  45. The “who taught you math?” one-liner doesn’t even work in the context it’s used here; it’s just a smug callback to another movie where it was at least used correctly. (I’ll be shocked if there isn’t a scene on the cutting room floor where Boyd Holbrook breaks that guard’s neck since that’s also a clear callback to The Last Boy Scout). Speaking of smug, am I the only one who groaned at the “I can do reverse psychology too – don’t go fuck yourself” line? There is zero reason that kid would say that line other than Black thought it was funny and there was nobody to reign him in.

    Which brings me to something that’ll probably get me kicked off this website – I don’t think Shane Black’s movies are all that great. The ones he WROTE in the 80s and 90s are stone cold classics, don’t get me wrong, but I think as a director, his films have been kind of dull and shaggy and have serious pacing issues. (I don’t dislike Nice Guys or Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, I think they’re perfectly OK but I can’t believe the cult status surrounding them). I don’t think Black has much of a visual knack for storytelling – is there an iconic shot or image in any of his movies? I mean I hate Iron Man 2 but I have to admit I can remember specific scenes and visuals more than anything in Iron Man Three. (Predators and Predator 2 also have way, way, more memorable visuals than what we get here). Black can write a clever escape scene (well, not here) and a funny one-liner, but he just doesn’t have the command of filmmaking language that Richard Donner or Tony Scott or uhh….Renny Harlin (I’m being serious) has. The action scenes in Iron Man 3 felt out of his depth and the ones in The Predator are borderline incoherent. I know we all like to give him a pass and think he’s some poor guy that the man is holding down, but c’mon, the incompetence of Sterling K. Brown’s death falls on the director, plain and simple.

    Again, I don’t hate The Predator, I actually thought it was amusing, breezy, easily watchable junk food. It’s the Terminator Genisys of the Predator franchise, meaning I should be channeling my nerd rage at its bastardization of a classic, but I just kinda shrug my shoulders and move on. And I agree with Ray that this movie exists on its own wavelength and does its own thing, which is kinda funny but also clearly at odds with the fact that it’s also trying to be a four-quadrant crowd-pleasing tentpole franchise starter. (I can imagine the brainstorming sessions at Fox where they calculate how much money they lost on the original Predator by not shoehorning in a cute kid or a “strong female lead”)

  46. Finally got around to seeing this. Wowza, this movie is a hot mess. Sometimes an entertaining hot mess, but a hot mess nonetheless. It goes from comedy to action to cartoony action at the drop of a hat. People get throw around like ragdolls, slammed into walls, and just bounce up and brush themselves off. You have autism jokes, tourettes jokes, all sorts of odd shit.

    My biggest issue is they really were doing well with the regular Predator because you could tell he was a practical effect, a guy in a suit. Once they inject the CGI 11 foot predator and his CGI dogs, they lost me. This was distractingly bad CGI. I would have preferred a bunch of real normal size predators running around in predator suits. And the whole last act with them swinging around on the roof of the ship felt like the finale of the last shitty Alien movie.

    This movie, tonally, shares almost zero with the original. Like many on this thread, I watched Predators again recently. It does a lot right, and I think understands what the first Predator was all about. But it just kind of turns into a shit show and not a very good action movie in the final act.

    I am 100% confident I will never watch The Predator again, except MAYBE to see how the This is Us guy got killed, because I swear I blinked and missed it.

  47. “I don’t think Black has much of a visual knack for storytelling”

    This is absolutely, demonstrably wrong. It’s true that Black is a better screenwriter than a director, but that’s because his screenplays have a tendency to hijack the films from even the director. When watching the Last Boy Scout, it’s easy for me to think of it as a Shane Black film rather than a Tony Scott film.

    But he’s no slouch in the directing department either. Just take a look at the physical comedy in his films. Or if you want to see him at the top of his game, check out the third act of The Nice Guys. In a landscape of disappointing third acts that so often tip into tedium, The Nice Guys shows everyone how it’s done. It’s like he’s thrown three Buster Keaton movies into ten minutes of action.

    And this track record is ultimately why The Predator is so damn disappointing. He’s been able to handle big budgets before, so I don’t know what happened. Part of the problem was without a doubt studio meddling, but I also think Black just failed here.

  48. I like the way Black’s movies look, including this one. He’s not slathering everything in atmosphere. He’s not color-correcting the fuck out of everything. He’s sticking to the fundamentals. He likes rich colors and deep blacks and lots of contrast but not so much that you’re aware of the films having a “look.” Sometimes I hate “looks.” I can just picture all the conversations that had nothing to do with telling the goddamn story and connecting to the audience and everything to do with jerking off about color palettes. Sometimes you hear Del Toro talk and you’d swear he thinks the fact that everything is red at the end is a climax in itself.

    Black doesn’t care about that. He cares about what happens.

    To that end, the action scenes in IRON MAN THREE are about 400 times better than anything Favreau did on the series. Lots of variety, clear cause and effect, no goddamn shakycam or catch-it-on-the-fly garbage. Fuckin’ classic Renny Harlin style. The camera is pointed where it needs to be and getting the fuck over itself. It’s not pretending to be the star.

    Obviously almost none of that was on display in THE PREDATOR (which has more good action ideas than good action execution) but I suspect that’s a rhythm thing. His action has a rhythm just like his dialogue does. You start cutting beats out to make it faster or whatever and you fuck up the whole tempo.

    I watched PREDATORS last night. It might be a better made movie than THE PREDATOR but it sure as fuck is not a more entertaining movie than THE PREDATOR. It starts well but never really builds to anything, has no real money shots, and it loses almost all of its momentum during the interminable Lawrence Fishbone sequence. Nothing against him or his performance but once he shows up, the movie stops cold and never fully recovers. Not sure exactly why, because structurally the film needs this sequence, but every time I try watching it, that’s when I start looking at my phone.

    It’s a movie that does nothing badly but nothing great, whereas THE PREDATOR is a movie that does all kinds of shit badly but also all kinds of shit great. I’ll take the latter, I guess.

    Though I wouldn’t mind Brody coming back. He was really underrated as a laconic tough guy (something not all Oscar winners can pull off) and should do more work in that vein. I’d have been cool with him popping out of that pod at the end.

  49. I thought PREDATORS was mediocre at best and just boring at worst, you are right that once Lawrence Fishburne shows up the movie loses any momentum it had been building up.

    PREDATOR and PREDATOR 2 is all I need, the Red Letter Media guys pointed that Predator is one of those inherently limited concepts that’s really only meant for one movie, like “what if there was an alien sport hunter and you couldn’t beat him with guns because of his superior technology so instead you had to get all primal and outsmart him?” there you go, there’s your movie.

    PREDATOR 2 did a good enough job giving us another movie that didn’t feel stale but after that it was done, now it’s been either repeating itself like PREDATORS or so radically different like THE PREDATOR you wonder what was the point.

    The vast majority of these movie franchises should have stopped at 2, Terminator should have stopped at 2, Alien should have stopped at 2 (they blew all the aliens up and killed the queen, what more do you wanna know? It says it all that ALIEN 3 had to have an egg magically appear from nowhere in order to continue) and Godfather should have stopped 2.

    There are exceptions but they’re a lot rarer than bad sequels which are numerous.

  50. Coming up with sequel ideas for a predator movie can’t be easy. Predators had an inspired idea, even if I remember the film being just okay. With that in mind, I guess I’m okay with Black borrowing from I Come in Peace, even if it’s never clear why some predator was interested in saving humanity. Maybe they were going to delve into the geopolitics of the predators in the sequel, which we won’t get.

    I agree with those who say that Predator 2 is the best sequel. And like Griff says, it feels like a comic book, which means it can be really goofy, but it also has some great shots at extreme angles. The throwdown between the Voodoo ganglord and the predator looks like it belongs on a splash page. It’s a bit too much of a retread, and it keeps the characters in the dark for too long, but it’s still a solid follow up.

    The Batman Versus Predator comic from the 90s is also surprisingly good. Dave Gibbons of Watchmen fame did the artwork, and it’s better than it has any right to be.

  51. Hard and bitter pill to swallow, that the potential left on the table from “Predators” was tossed away for the sake of this weightless franchise killer. Even the AvP movies, for all their flaws, made a legit attempt (and I’d certainly say succeeded in the 1st) to “sell” the reality of the presented world/characters. In that respect, “The Predator” comes off like the Adam West’ing of the Predatorverse. It doesn’t merely fail, it wasn’t even tryin.

  52. I ended up watching this in Stockholm (with swedish subtitles! I couldnt tell what the predators were saying but I felt like that prob made it better) and I’m really glad I did because Sweden’s biggest chain turned out to have amazing fucking screens and projection. the alita trailer (with house lights still on) looked fucking fabulous and brighter than almost any feature I’ve seen in the states (including at the alamo and other places that pay lip service to quality projection) and when the lights came down I felt like I was looking at a high end hdr tv it was so gorgeous.

    that being said, I too almost missed the bad guy accidentally blowing his face off, and my partner and I exchanged a glance like “did that just happen?” but honestly I thought it was an audacious and funny end for the character.

  53. About why the ‘Fugitive Predator’ (that’s what the marketing people want us to call him) would want to help humanity:

    Based on what the movie told us, the only thing I can think of is that Fugitive Predator’s human DNA made him a bit of a human sympathizer?

    …but that doesn’t keep him from killing a bunch of humans.

    It’s important to note that people who have read the original script say the final scene of the movie was *not* in the l script. Which makes sense, because the last scene looks and feels like the most obviously reshot scene. Also makes sense because the “gift to humanity” speculation from Sterling K. and Olivia Munn is often ADR.

    I’d love to know what Fugitive Predator was up to in the original script.

  54. Surprised that no ones talking about Key and Jane’s pseudo-romantic/brotherhood subplot. Their final beat was beautiful and weirdly moving for me. It is, perhaps, my favorite scene in any Predator film.

    This is the weirdest big budget movie I have seen in a long time. It honestly felt like fan-fiction. So many weird, haphazard ideas. I certainly wasnt bored but…

    Also, why didn’t we get any new Predator tech? I guess the automated head-cannon (as opposed to the AVP-denying Head canon) counts, but a big joy in Predator and Predator 2 was seeing how the Predator sets traps and hunts.

  55. The Fugitive Predator wanted to give humanity the weapon because of honor. The whole Predator society is obsessed with honor and the like. Fugitive doesn’t care about humans, he just wants it to be a fair fight. That seemed really obvious to me.

    What wasn’t obvious was why the “Super Predator” was 12 feet tall. Why would absorbing DNA from your prey make you taller? Why would it “improve” or “refine” the Predator. That’s not how evolution works. Evolution doesn’t have a direction. It can go forward or backwards. Randomly inserting DNA is likely to make you… uh… Slower, not faster. Dumber, not smarter. Deformed, not taller. I like the idea of explaining why they rip out spines and giving it real meaning. But the application is just too dumb for me to accept.

  56. RBatty024 , Gibbons didn’t do the artwork for Batman v. Predator, he wrote it. One of the Kuberts did the artwork. It does hold up though. Also worth reading is the recent Archie v. Predator.

  57. oh yeah: Jeff Allard – i thought that was sinbad?!? but cube would make a lot more sense :O

  58. “That’s not how evolution works. Evolution doesn’t have a direction. It can go forward or backwards. ”

    Hey, if every mutant in the X-Men universe gets cool superpowers instead of, I don’t know, being a Quasimodo who poops through his eyeballs, I’m willing to accept the way evolution-through-absorbation works in the Predatorverse.

  59. I stand corrected. I’ve been meaning to get around to that Archie v. The Predator because I loved Archie v. The Punisher as a kid. But I guess my point was, there are more stories you can tell in the Predatorverse, even if it is a little trickier when it comes to developing a story that justifies making a film around it.


    Okay, I broke down and theatricalitied this. Perhaps all the bitching inoculated me, because the only genuine headscratcher was Olivia Munn being able to teleport or time-travel or Ang-Lee-Hulk-jump to catch up with McKenna and super-Predator at the end. I also thought the final scene / coda /setup was stupid and unnecessary, but not film-wrecking, as some have suggested. Just regrettable and forgettable.

    Besides that, yes, it was a little choppy, but I felt like I could follow the story line just fine, and it was lean and mean, moving at a great clip. The introduction of Olivia Munn’s character was abrupt, but it was perfectly intelligible. In what may be another case of inoculation, I though the Sterling K. Brown death was perfectly clear, clean, and awesome. The autism super-powers thing is just a typical, silly case of bad/inaccurate pop science to service a plot, but I think the point was that this kid is obviously a super-genius, so well worth copping his DNA.

    All in all, I thought this was a perfectly serviceable film and a lot of fun. Good, even. Great cast, chemistry, group dynamic, a lot of fun. Great score. I thought super-Predator was cool and looked good. I did not notice a lot of bad CGI. It was all okay-to-good CGI. Fun banter. Memorable characters. Awesome kills. Great sense of humor.

  61. There was a noticeable amount of content that asked “why are we calling them predators, isn’t the word hunter more accurate?” and “aren’t humans the real predator?” Meanwhile there is this backstory that humans are destroying the planet by causing global warming. And that the aliens want to come live here. So by the end of the film, I felt certain that something sent by the Yautja that is called a “predator-killer” would therefore be something that killed all humans. That would have been rad. Oh well.

    I thought this movie was a lot of fun, like Predator vs. the A Team, if the A Team was all Murdocks. Trevante Rhodes was wonderful; I hope to see him in lots more things. I did not see Ice Cube, but this movie most definitely got dissed by the editor.

  62. The Predator Deleted Scenes

    The Predator notoriously went through significant reshoots that changed much of the end of the film. This section is split into two sections. The first features the three deleted scenes that can be found on […]

  63. Wrong Predator…

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