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The Predator: a mediocre requel

Image Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Image Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Anthony Kramer Robertson, Staff Writer

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The latest installment in the Predator film franchise, The Predator had fans oozing with excitement for its release on September 14 and made a modest $24 million opening weekend. While this was lower than its projected range ($25-$30 million), it’s still a solid turnout for an action film release long after the slew of summer blockbusters. Director Shane Black, who played the role of Rick Hawkins in the in the first film, left fans hoping the franchise would be returning to its roots. Aside from Black, the crew and cast were unremarkable. Comprised of mostly B-list actors, with the biggest names being Keegan-Michael Key as Coyle and Olivia Munn as Casey, the cast did little to generate interest.

The first scene begins explosively with a sniper kill, a spaceship crash, and a fair amount of mutilation in the first three minutes, and exposition doesn’t ruin the pace. This was smart in a series like the Predator films, where we already have an idea of what we are about to see on screen. Plot is the real problem, or rather, the vast number of subplots. There was more than one main conflict, which made the film seem like disjointed episodes of  several different TV series slapped together. The most prevalent conflict is that Rory McKenna (Jacob Tremblay) who is being hunted down by Predators because his Asperger’s condition is key for their evolution. The second conflict revolves around a rogue Predator who has crashed on earth in order to send a message to humans that other Predators are on their way to conquer the planet. Instead of trashing one idea and going full force into the other, they just decided to incorporate both of them into the same story. This was a terrible idea, as it did not do either story line its justice and caused the entire film to lack the cohesion between scenes. In all fairness, once the audience understands what the plots are, they are enjoyable and engaging.

Another major issue with the film is that the script relied far too much on comedy. Many jokes were more cringe-worthy than funny, while others just seemed forced and out of place. For example, in one particular scene, a Predator climbs into a military truck and is slaughtering soldiers in the back. The driver, oblivious to the situation, asks if all is okay. In response, the Predator takes a severed arm and gives the driver a thumbs-up. The building tension of this action-packed scene is broken due to a poorly timed joke, and it’s not worth a few weak laughs from the audience.

I could sit here and rip this film apart for the entire review, but there are a few places where the film succeeded. The characters are complex, empathetic and down to Earth. This ragtag group of soldiers suffering from mental issues all have a story to tell outside the events of the film. Throughout the film, these well-developed characters make smart decisions under pressure and they felt like real people. It’s characters like these that make franchises like the MCU so successful.

If you are a lifelong fan of the franchise, this might not be the film for you, as it sort of isolates itself from the previous films. However, as an average film watcher, this will likely be a hit or miss experience. The overall critic ratings on review sites has spanned from a measly 30% to a modest 70%.  My final verdict is that it is an okay movie, but I’ll most likely forget much about it after a couple months. It’s worth seeing in theaters if you have a discount on tickets or if you’re just there to have fun and don’t really care for the quality of the film.

Overall, the film had great moments that will be remembered. Some of the comedy was clever and witty, while in other instances it wasn’t nearly as good. The dramatic scenes were felt, but there weren’t enough of them for us to care too much. And finally, the gory action and gruesome violence at times kept me at the edge of my seat, but again, there weren’t enough of these. The end of the film has kept the door opened for yet another Predator film, so we will see if we get another installment.

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The Predator: a mediocre requel