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Movie Review: “The Predator”

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

The Predator

Theatrical Release: 9/14/2018

Theatrical Release: 9/14/2018

Synopsis

After a Predator crashes on earth and slaughters a local military platoon, a lone survivor escapes with some alien technology. Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook), barely survived his run-in with the alien, and he took the alien tech so that he has proof of what he saw. Knowing he is going to be brought in by government officials who intend to keep him quiet, he ships the alien tech to a P.O. box back home. Once in custody, Quinn is placed in a group of military rejects and misfits, who have each found themselves on the bad side of the U.S. government.

Meanwhile, the military has captured the alien asset, sedated it, and taken it to a top secret facility. A scientist named Casey Bracket (Olivia Munn) has been called in to study the biology of the creature, but the Predator quickly escapes captivity. Being one of the few survivors of the massacre that was the Predator’s escape, Casey ends up crossing paths with Quinn McKenna and the band of misfit ex-soldiers. The good news is: Quinn knows exactly where the Predator is going. The bad news is: it is heading straight for the alien tech that Quinn had just shipped to his wife and son.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

Comedy (+3pts)

Dogs (-3pts)

Action (+6pts)

Dumb Decisions (-3pts)

The Predators (+5pts)

The Tone (-10pts)

movie-review-the-predator

Pro: Comedy (+3pts)

A lot of people hated the comedy in this movie. At times, it did feel out of place, but for the most part I thought it made the filler significantly more entertaining than it would have been without it. Could the filmmakers have filled the “filler” with interesting character stories? Sure, but instead they filled it with comedy, and I thought that comedy was mostly funny. Keegan-Michael Key was obviously a comedic relief with plenty of entertaining moments and a handful of ridiculous jokes that will leave audiences laughing and smacking their foreheads—but in a good way.

I was honestly surprised to see that, in addition to Keegan-Michael Key, Thomas Jane delivered some effective comedy. His character was an ex-soldier with Tourette syndrome. Some of this comedy felt very forced, but there were definitely a number of funny moments from this character. At The end of the day, audiences were not going into this movie expecting comedy, so it ended up leaving a bad taste in the mouths of a lot of people. I see where those people are coming from, but I thought the comedy was mostly effective at keeping audiences entertained during the scenes when Predators were not on the screen.

movie-review-the-predator

Con: Dogs (-3pts)

I really do not know what the purpose was for these things. There were a couple Predators in this movie. The first was the classic version, and the second was much larger, and much more dangerous. That larger Predator also had two Predator dogs—yes, you read that correctly—that I thought were a dumb, gimmicky idea as soon as I saw them.

The dogs just did not do anything noteworthy. Sure, they gave the protagonists something generic to fight, but they were not formidable and they took away an opportunity to have the Predator—you know, the thing audiences went to see—on screen doing its Predator thing. The dog fight scene felt pointless, and the creatures themselves were ridiculous. The dogs worked in Predators, but it just did not feel like they had a place here. I was able to tolerate two different species of Predators running around, but having the predator dogs in addition to that felt like too much.

movie-review-the-predator

Pro: The Action (+6pts)

For the most part, audiences will watch this movie hoping for some mindless action. Although there was not anything truly special in the action, the action was definitely there. The Predator had some violent, brutal kills, and it was definitely entertaining to see a Predator doing its thing on the screen again. Was it the best Predator movie? No, but the Predator action was still as entertaining as you would hope it to be.

Then there was the scene in which a ton of dangerous alien tech fell into all of the wrong hands—a bunch of humans who did not know how to use it—and that created some unique, entertaining kills as well. The best action sequence, in my opinion, was when the Predator broke out of the facility. The Predator was pissed, and it took all of its rage out on almost anyone it could get its hands on. It was an awesome scene that showed just how dangerous, violent, and merciless these Predators can be, and it embodied why audiences get excited to see Predators. The scene was over too quickly, and the rest of the movie was showered with decent action that was entertaining while it was happening, but the breakout scene was the action sequence that stood out to me.

movie-review-the-predator

Con: Dumb Decisions (-3pts)

As is the case with a lot of action movies, there were quite a few dumb decisions that were made by the characters in this movie. They were presented as brief lapses in judgement by the characters, but when so many lapses of judgement happen in one movie, it just comes across as lazy writing. These dumb decisions either moved the plot in a specific direction or they kept certain characters alive, who the writers did not want to kill off just yet. There was one bad decision that I enjoyed, and it involved Sterling K. Brown’s character turning his head at the worst possible time. That is all I will say about it and if you blink you will miss it, but I liked it, because it was unexpected and felt realistic for the characters in their situation.

Other bad decisions included antagonists announcing their intent to shoot protagonists in the back of the head, allowing said protagonist to escape, and Casey Bracket’s involvement in this story after the breakout scene. The character, a scientist, watched the Predator slaughter countless armed soldiers—or trained security, I honestly do not know what they were—and she decided it was then her responsibility to contain the killing machine. She also watched as the Predator only killed people holding weapons or devices, yet it spared her when she was unarmed. Her genius solution was grab a gun and seek the friggin’ thing out. I am a fan of Olivia Munn and I do not think she was bad in this movie by any stretch of the imagination, but her character felt very irrelevant, and very poorly written.

movie-review-the-predator

Pro: The Predators (+5pts)

Setting the dogs aside, the Predators in this movie were pretty cool. The costumes, visual effects, and Predator action have never looked better than they did in this movie. The normal Predator—the one most similar to what we saw in the original movie—had an awesome suit and seemed more dangerous because of how effectively it moved. Having just watched the original, I had a fresh memory of the stiff movements of the Predator in that movie. This gave me an appreciation for how well the costume design allowed the actor underneath the costume in this one to move around.

The bigger, badder version of the Predator was all CGI and it looked great too. The visual effects were very detailed and they made the monster look realistic—as realistic as a giant, scorpion-mouthed, murderous alien could look. What I enjoyed most about this Predator was the concept. It had all the capabilities of the other Predator—armor, heat vision, active camouflage, etc.—only it did not have a suit. Ita body had been enhanced to give it all of those capabilities. It seemed like overkill to make it as tall as it was, but other than that, I had no complaints about this Predator. Both Predators looked cool, and both came across as extremely dangerous, which was exactly what they needed to be.

movie-review-the-predator

Con: The Tone (-10pts)

This movie's biggest problem, by far, was the tone. To be clear, I think it is unfair to judge movies by comparing their tones to previous installments of their respective franchises. I am all for new filmmakers coming on and doing something different, but I did not feel like the filmmakers knew what tone they were going for here, and I did not think they delivered the movie that fans wanted as a result.

Fans are going to see The Predator, hoping that it recaptures the intense horror-action style that the original movie did so well. That was not what this movie was, however. It had some of the action, but the filmmakers did not seem to know when to turn the comedy off, and when to turn it back on. The best example of this was Sterling K. Brown’s character, who was supposed to be an antagonist, but he was constantly delivering comedy that fell flat, and prevented me from being able to take him seriously. Should this movie have been void of any and all comedy? No, but the filmmakers let the comedy get in the way of giving audiences an epic and intense, horror-action movie.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

movie-review-the-predator

Grade: C- (73pts)

Was this a bad movie? No, there were actually plenty of things and moments that I enjoyed, but it was still a pretty disappointing movie. The action was pretty cool, the comedy was mostly funny, and the Predators looked better than they ever have. The Predator breakout scene was also awesome, although it was over way too quickly. There were dumb decisions throughout this movie—most of which involved Olivia Munn’s character—the Predator dogs seemed pointless and ridiculous, but the movie’s biggest issue was its tone. I got the impression that the filmmakers got too caught up in making a cool, funny predator movie, and they forgot all about the tone that made the original so great.

Audiences are going to watch this movie for intense, alien horror and action, but this movie had almost none of that. The comedy itself was not the problem. Comedy can be used as an effective tool to get audiences through filler scenes, but the filmmakers did not seem to know when to turn the comedy off. Scenes that should have been intense had too much comedy to be taken seriously, and it ended up leaving a bad taste in the mouths of fans of the franchise. The result was a highly anticipated movie, that even though there were a few things I liked, it ended up being a big disappointment.