The Predator

September 14, 2018 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Boyd Holbrook, Olivia Munn, Sterling K. Brown
Directed by: Shane Black (“Iron Man 3,” “The Nice Guys”)
Written by: Shane Black (“Lethal Weapon”) & Fred Dekker (“The Monster Squad”)

The original “Predator” movie, released in 1987, is arguably the pinnacle of the ‘80s action movie genre. With a mix of shooting bad guys in the jungle, science fiction and pre-megastar Arnold Schwarzenegger, its no-bullshit, all-action approach makes it essential viewing. Hell, the greeting between Arnold’s Dutch and Carl Weathers’ Dillon and the “get to the choppah!” line are basically perfect. The other movies in the series, including a couple of sequels and a pair of crossovers with the “Alien” franchise, are best left unwatched.

Anyway, here we are 31 years later, and director Shane Black—who played Hawkins, the first guy the Predator killed in ’87—is at the helm of “The Predator,” a self-referential sequel that goes for laughs, but ends up with few surprises and far too many characters to remain interesting or entertaining, even with some ‘80s-level gore.

Set in a world where only the first two “Predator” movies happened, one of the dreadlocked aliens crash lands on Earth, essentially on top of sniper Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) as he’s taking out some  random bad guys in Central America. A firefight ensues with the Predator, and he’s knocked out. Quinn steals the creature’s helmet and gauntlet, which he then mails to his family for safe keeping. He then swallows (for some reason) the ball thing that allows the Predator to become invisible, which gives him the power to cloak himself. Meanwhile, a mysterious government agency led by Traeger (Sterling K. Brown, all quips and honestly lots of fun) swoops in and steals the sedated Predator away to the United States, where he calls in Casey Bracket (Olivia Munn), whose specialty is space animals because she wrote a letter to the president about it once.

Also, Quinn’s son Rory (Jacob Tremblay), who is on the spectrum, opens the box containing the Predator mask and gauntlet and somehow figures out the complex operating system and turns the helmet into a Halloween costume, possibly ushering in a “Magical autistic kid” trope in the process.

Anyway, Quinn is arrested by Traeger’s men for what he knows, and is packed onto a military prison bus with the “Loonies,” a rag-tag team of soldiers with differing levels of mental issues, including characters played by Trevante Rhodes, Keegan-Michael Key and Thomas Jane. When the Predator escapes and kills a bunch of lab techs, Quinn and the Loonies set out to kill the Predator, only to run up against an even bigger Predator.

While there are admittedly some laughs and groan-worthy meta-callbacks (“get to the choppers!” in reference to a bunch of street motorcycles on a military base, for some reason), “The Predator” is mostly a mess of goofs, gore, and muddled, incomplete character arcs. After three decades, everything new just keeps getting worse and worse in this franchise. Please, as with “Alien” and “Terminator” movies just…stop.

Deliver Us From Evil

July 4, 2014 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Eric Bana, Edgar Ramirez, Olivia Munn
Directed by: Scott Derrickson (“Sinister”)
Written by: Scott Derrickson (“Sinister”) and Paul Harris Boardman (“The Exorcism of Emily Rose”)

When it comes to horror films that dealing with demonic possession, it’s starting to get quite difficult to keep each movie separate when one contorting body looks like the other.

How diluted has the devil-made-me-do-to subgenre become, you ask? In just the last couple of years, titles like “The Devil Inside,” “The Last Exorcism Part II,” “Insidious: Chapter 2,” “The Possession,” “The Devil’s Due,” and even the torturously unfunny parody “A Haunted House” are only a small fraction of the movies that have taken the demon narrative and somehow stripped away everything that made films like 1968’s “Rosemary’s Baby” and 1973’s original “Exorcist” such classic stories audiences were actually afraid to see alone. Now, it feels like you can’t even spew a little pea soup on a studio lot without it hitting another Satan-fueled character crab-walking across the ceiling.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t change with “Deliver Us From Evil,” a cliché-ridden script that actually starts off with a slightly different kind of buzz before regressing into something as generic as it’s title would suggest. Unlike their past possession film “The Exorcism of Emily Rose,” co-writers Paul Harris Boardman and Scott Derrickson (who is also the director) do nothing fresh with this specific tale like creating a court-room horror movie. Instead, the duo plays around with combining horror elements into a police procedural in hopes of creating something that resembles filmmaker David Fincher’s “Seven.” It doesn’t come close on any level.

In the film, Eric Bana (“Hulk”) stars as NYPD officer Ralph Sarchie who is investigating a series of paranormal events that begins with a call to the Bronx Zoo where a psychotic mother has tossed her infant son into the lion’s den. When the crime starts to connect to other horrible incidences around the city, Ralph teams up with a priest/demonologist, Father Mendoza (Edgar Ramirez), to track down a possessed, dead-eyed ex-solider who is the cause of all the evil happening around NYC.

While the writers attempt to make Officer Sarchie a three-dimensional character by turning him into a faithless, absentee father and husband fighting the good fight (while also hallucinating Jim Morrison songs for some stupid reason), there’s still not nearly enough meat on this character to make him or the cases he’s investigating all that interesting. The script calls for Sarchie to have a comedy relief partner (Joel McHale) to lighten things up, but the character mostly wastes screentime when he is given two ridiculous scenes where he basically transforms into some kind of knife-wielding ninja. Even scenarios where Sarchie’s family (his wife is played by Olivia Munn) is affected by his work when their own house starts creeping their little girl out don’t create a tangible enough threat to worry that anything will happen to anyone of importance. It all makes for a very dull and unfrightening mix of low-rent cop drama and standard horror flick action that won’t do much to stand out from the other half dozen similar projects that are sure to rear their ugly heads soon enough.