The Predator (2018)

pred1
Gun-toting hot chick Botanist: “Schools out, Predator scum!”

Oh dear. It would be easier (and quicker) to write about what was right about this film… except actually, no, it might be a shorter post, but it’d be much harder to find something this film actually did right. This thing is a bloody mess, right from its effects-laden space dogfight start which dispels any mystery/tension regards the Predators themselves. I suppose, just like with the Alien franchise, we’ve travelled such a long road since the first film (which teased us with glimpses of the titular character until the pay-off at the end), that any awe/horror/mystery is long done, and it’s all now just the same old same old.

Which annoyed me right from the start, as it instantly put the film into comic-stip territory to me, a feeling that persisted throughout. Maybe it’s a tonal thing, but for me the first film was more a horror film than an action film (whatever the Arnie fans may argue), and the whole point of characters like the Predator (and indeed the Alien) to me is the respect they should demand, the sense of horror and dread and fear. Demoting them to just being standard CGI or prosthetic characters that are thrown onscreen whenever in increasingly graphic detail, that just diminishes them to me.

Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that the law of diminishing returns, evidenced by both this and the Alien franchise, should rear its ugly head again here, but I really did not expect this to be so crushingly ill-conceived and executed. The fact they could have a great actor like Thomas Jane wasted in a supporting role and such a bland lead in the form of Boyd Holbrook, just reinforces how ill-judged this whole thing was. They even have the nerve to throw a kid into the film – a ‘genius’ kid (and idiot adults) in the grand annoying genre tradition of Wesley Crusher of ST:TNG and Doctor Zee

zee
Be afraid. Be very afraid.

from Galactica 1980, an astonishing move that left me slack-jawed. This kid can translate alien language and figure out alien technology that seems to have befuddled scientists for years, it’s the kind of genre stupidity I thought we had grown out of-  “the next step in the evolutionary chain” they call him. To throw even more salt into the wound, they even throw in a ‘cute’ alien dog that follows our heroes playing ‘fetch’ at any opportunity. Frankly, I still can’t believe it. When at the end they get a nifty anti-Predator costume straight out of the Stark Industries CGI Iron Man line of toys, well, I was beyond numb.

I fell a little like Charlton Heston at the end of the 1968 Planet of the Apes“They did it, they finally goddam did it” (or thereabouts): they killed the Predator franchise, forever. Hopefully, anyway- I couldn’t bear to suffer through another one as bad as this.

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5 thoughts on “The Predator (2018)

  1. Tom

    I always thought this was a really odd choice for Shane Black to direct. Or is it a weird directorial choice for the movie? Its kind of the chicken-and-the-egg argument there. Either way, I avoided this outright. Will stay even further away from it now. I never had that much love for Predator (the actual character, that is — the movie is badass! (duh!)) but this always looked to me like a train wreck.

  2. Matthew McKinnon

    I stayed well away from this too.
    Never understood how this became a franchise: the first film is OK – it’s pretty good but massively over-rated*. I guess it’s the comics and toys have kept the ‘character’ alive, as the sequels have demonstrated time after time that this is a cheap and shitty movie concept with no mileage. Everyone’s crying ‘studio interference’ on this one but I can’t see this would ever have been any good.

    *’Pretty good but massively overrated ‘ is how I feel about Shane Black and his mystifying cult following. I mean, he’s OK and everything but he’s not exactly the master auteur his fans make him out to be. Don’t get it.

  3. Its bizarre, really, how some of these ‘directors/creatives’ get to continually work in the film industry- I can only imagine that the money men are so devoid of creativity or imagination that they feel indebted to anyone who espouses anything like an ‘idea’. Too many people seem to think films school is replaying their DVD collection over and over to figure out how things were done before or to borrow ideas.

    The oddest thing is, I approached this film thinking it was a reboot but instead its actually a sequel, as it attempts to shoehorn the continuity from Predator 1 and 2 into it with some Global Warming/Terraforming nonsense straight out of They Live. With a bit of genetic engineering/hybrid creatures stuff that smacked of Prometheus. Its like everything but the kitchen sink and quite crazy, its all such a mess. WIth lots of gore and CGI action obviously to keep the teens awake.

  4. An interesting trivia about The Predator: You may actually pass out if you take a shot every time someone says “Shut the fuck up”.

    It’s a terrible mishmash of action, horror, sci-fi & comedy that puts these genre elements at odds with each other to such extent that they end up neutralising the effect of one another. Just about nothing works in this feature. It’s dull, disgraceful & disappointing.

  5. I actually didn’t mind this. Well, not entirely. I’ve never held the original film in that high regard — I like it, but it’s neither a great horror movie nor a great action movie, in my opinion. It’s no Alien, certainly, but the way the two franchises have become entangled, I think some people remember the two originals as being on a par. So, I don’t mind that this is full of daft, comic book-y, or trashy stuff, because heck, why not? It’s only Predator. What I did dislike was that it felt so mucked-about-with in post, with choppy editing and unclear storytelling. I used to think that kind of obvious studio meddling had been left behind in the mid/late ’90s, but it’s really reared its head again in the past couple of years.

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