The Predator

Insert Joke Here

What was missing was the Silver Pictures logo.
Reported on 23rd of September, 2018

Finally, a mediocre Shane Black film!


It really is 2018, isn’t it?

The Predator

20 September 2018 @ The Redwood City Century 20

-$1.00 or, if one must be jejune, and one must... 
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆


I had high hopes for The Predator, being that Mr. Black has only written good movies. That’s pretty cool, when you think about it. Even the extraordinarily messy Last Boy Scout is not unentertaining.

As opposed to scientists, who never do this, I’m going to invent a theory to feel better about things not turning out the way I wanted. The crucial element that caused The Predator to fail is time, either not enough or too much. The script feels like a fourth draft, in between an incoherent and yet bright first draft (like, say, for example, and just using an example here, Treasure Island), or a rehearsed over three years until perfect joint from pre-1963 Mr. Billy Wilder.

What we have come to expect from Mr. Black? great lines, clearly defined characters and reversals (as in WWSBD). There are a few of the first, all the second go to the minor characters and not the two leads, and the reversals of the scenes we’ve seen all too many times before – the Shane Black trademark – just ain’t there.

And then, RIGHT afterwards, lots of business-type phone calls. Godammit, can’t you just let me enjoy The Predator? Ah. Right.

Aliens come to earth during some hazily constructed military operation. We’ve seen this scene a million times, and so…the alien arrives. He doesn’t get snacks, the humans don’t panic as they would in real life. He doesn’t, as he would if following the insubstantial story, appear and hand over the gun (see ‘The Take’ below). Instead he just shoots some people and leaves.

The film is full of scenes to toy with, and virtually no toying. Here’s a basic one, and something 1990s Shane would have done: swap the gender of the lead. You have a house-husband as the military wife, and most importantly, you have a challenged female (by the various interactions with male characters) lead. Instead the lead is a tough guy.

No. That’s it.

He’s a tough guy. That’s all.

Mr. Black is hardly a feminist, but he is a scriptwriter. He should at least know how uninteresting it is to have the expert scientist (Ms. Olivia Munn) hear the constant cry of ‘Hey Doc, you’re the woman. Take care my kid during the action even you have considerable military training instead of, you know, me. The father.’ Clunky line, but better than what we got. Easy fix with the gender swap: the mother without the nurturing tendencies.

Though directed by Mr. Black, M. Bresson he ain’t. So when it comes to action, the geography was all over the place. What’s great about the jungle of the original (and it’s not a great film) is the isolation. The point of setting (whether Nakatomi towers or even the river culverts of Terminator 2) is to give us a way to situate the action, so that when things happen, or more importantly, when characters work out solutions, we can nod our heads and go ‘cool’.

I paid $20.41 for this. The chocolate and CanelĂ© from Alexander, not so impressive. And about one third the price in France. The secret is: always have the cheap candy. It’s the best.

Instead, we’re at an alien facility, which is, I guess, next to the military prison, which is right next to the good guy’s house and then a forest and finally a bar. Where, in the midst of it all, they take a break and have a nice chinwag. Mr. Peter Hyams, he ain’t.

It is at the forest where the draft number becomes especially evident, where the military and the misfits team up. It’s a potentially funny conceit, if there were but the flimsiest of motives.

Instead, the predator states he will be killing ‘greatest warrior McKenna’ (and there’s no way it could turn out to be his son with the same name…whaaaaa???????). So having been fighting, the gubment baddies do the one thing they shouldn’t: protect the guy they could just walk away and let the predator kill.

Maybe they knew the twist. The audience did.

Now all this nonsense is par for the course in a Shane Black movie. Doesn’t make sense? Tell a funny joke. Running around like a crazy person in a place where we can’t tell where we are? Have a character do the opposite of what they should. In that half-baked way, someone should have sent the script back to cook a bit. A great man, a man who has given us The Matrix and Die Hard and, yes, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

I have a new theory, and frankly I knew I was in trouble at the second slug.

What was missing was the Silver Pictures logo.

The Take

The thumbs up with severed hand was worth at LEAST
Nice moment of Mr. Tom Jane and Mr. Keegan-Michael Key finishing their soldier’s oath. It’s not full of moments like this, but it does have them. I would have paid more to see a film with the secondary characters. Well, I would have paid the same, but gotten more. Still, I got
Lines, again from the secondary characters: ‘I’m going to wake up on the bus’. Nice. More like that. In draft eight.
Space Doggie!
Total Profits
Underutilizing the Space Doggie
This has to go somewhere. There are, for a Mr. Black film, far too many twists. That part where I said the alien arrives and turns his pistola around – in classic buddy movie style – to hand it to the human –
– and that would have been a much better and totally Blackian movie –
– this actually was the conceit. That the first predator was coming (totally unmotivatedly of course, but so be it) to help humanity. Why was he shooting them? Don’t think about it. Insert joke here,
but you have to insert the joke.
Which, with all these twists circling our heads like cartoon birds, leads us to the second problem. That the first predator, who is trying to kill humans because he’s trying to save them, with all the set-ups of missing helmets and (sigh 2) autistic children that can read Predator, is a bland misdirect when killed by the second predator. I would have preferred to have been entertained.
Total Losses


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