the predatorrating 2.5I'd love to watch a really good movie right about now. But, instead, I'm catching up on the past several years of things I've had sitting around, waiting to be watched, none of which piqued my interest enough to get watched before now. So, another day, another middling film. Not to say The Predator is bad. It's "pants on head" stupid, but it's fun. It may be one of the most blisteringly average things Shane Black and Fred Dekker have worked on, but it's still worth a watch.

Of course, there's many people out there who talk about how terrible the film is and how it ruined a storied franchise. For one thing, your nostalgia is causing you to severely overestimate how worthwhile the Predator films have been. (And if AvP didn't ruin the franchise for you, nothing will.) The first was fun, though I think people give it far too much credit because of the direct relationship to their childhood. I'd imagine that if you showed someone around the age of 20 all of the various Predator films, this one and the original wouldn't be too far apart. But people let their memories dictate how good they believe something actually is, qualitatively, forever. It should be noted, if you don't know me (a very low possibility if you're actually reading this site), that I don't remember anything; my mine erases itself every few years. It's very awkward to not remember most people you've met, remember anything about your childhood, teenage years, things you did with you friends, amusing anecdotes about things you did together, anything that makes you feel like you know people... Instead, I get to relive everything fresh after a few years and decide that something I liked five or ten years ago isn't that good anymore. There's a great comfort in the fact that things are only as good as you find them to be right now, mostly untainted by nostalgia of any kind. So I at least don't have to carry a torch for my childhood or the 80s or whatever terrible stuff is popular right now because someone remembers watching a VHS tape at a friend's sleepover or the first time their dad took them to an R-rated movie.

All that said, there's a lot more stuff in this movie, which means there's a lot more chances to come across as much dumber than the original Predator. I will give you that. The fact that they're spicing it up with Predator backstory and mythology could be a nice change of pace, but also it amplifies the hokiness of the proceedings. It's 15 pounds of goofy sci-fi bullshit in a 5-pound bag.

I will state that the cast is good. I'm sure that people will want to argue tirelessly about this, but it's not an arguable point. The movie is full of good actors, acting as they were obviously directed. Even Sterling K. Brown, chewing scenery like... well, a Shane Black villain. The complaint people are probably trying to make is that they didn't like the tone of the movie. That's a fair point. If you want Predator movies that are action-thrillers, this one isn't for you. There's touches of horror-level gore across this movie and death is much more widespread in this film, though some will still want to die on the practical effect hill regarding that. But, still, tension isn't really an aspect of the story. Unlike pretty much every other Predator film, it doesn't really feel like the Predators are hunting. It's more akin to a monster movie than Predator, following some lumbering beast wreaking havoc through a city... GodzillaCloverfield, etc. The stakes never feel high until everyone gets mowed down towards the end. Perhaps the monster aspect feels more obvious in direct relation to Fred Dekker (of Monster Squad and Night Of The Creeps fame) being a co-writer, not to mention the overall comedic tone of writer/director Shane Black (he also of The Monster Squad, as well as Lethal WeaponLast Action HeroIron Man 3, et al.). I'm sure most people's tonal problems come directly from Black and his penchant for wordy mayhem. And this film is much more Kiss Kiss Bang Bang or The Last Boy Scout than people probably expected or even desired out of a sci-fi actioner, much less Predator. I, myself, didn't mind. It was nice to have something just stupidly fun to watch for once, as opposed to the direly serious shit I've been watching, and I appreciated the jokes regarding the natures of the films themselves, such as the constant questioning of why it's called a "Predator" when it's more of a big-game hunter. Those clever moments aside, there's some weak fan-service references, and some vulgar insults attempting to pass as being humor. I mean, it's Shane Black; some of his films are more or less elevated depending on the project and style, but he is who he is.

So I can't really blame people that don't like the movie. It's goofy, it's often dumb, it's overwritten, there's too many things, many of which don't feel great: the focus on the child (not to mention trying to paint autism as some sort of evolutionary super power), the overly wacky squad, the schlocky Predator backstory, and the whole DNA-modification aspect. (Also, Predator dogs?) Really, it all overcomplicates a plot that didn't need to be... so much. And, yes, the ending setup is goofy, dumb, and a little self-referential.

Still, if you get past your bias towards a bunch of old, just-okay movies, it's an enjoyable if completely forgettable (and also sort of stupid) watch.

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