This was the best Predator movie besides the very first with Arnold in 1987. The Predator did a great job revitalizing the franchise in a way that the subsequent ones (from the middling Predator 2 sequel through the two AvP disasters) didn’t. If you loved the classic Predator original, you’ll have a good time with this one.
(UPDATED NOTE: I totally forgot there is another Predator film out there. That one, called Predators, was actually pretty good if I recall, although I honestly don’t remember much about the specifics. That one came out in 2010. I’ll need to re-watch it.)
This movie moves along really fast, mostly in the darkness of one night, and never gave us any characters whose names I could recall. I had to check IMDB to write the Peetimes, so I could say “Quinn” and “Rory”, instead of using the placeholders from my notes that said “main guy”, “science girl”, and “son with Aspergers”.
I do have to say the kid did a nice job, and his Asperger’s Syndrome was handled fairly well, which can be hard to do in cinema (I’m sensitive to this kind of thing). And “Main Guy” reminded me of a young Michael Biehn from Terminator and Aliens (I expect this is no coincidence). The difference is that those films, in their even shorter run times, gave us indelible character moments AND action. More on this below.
Other notes: while the violence was frequent and over-the-top, it wasn’t the gross-out kind. It didn’t feel gratuitous, as a lot of R-rated films are these days. The violence was extreme, but somehow appropriate. These aliens are brutal hunters, but not sadistic. I’d place this one on the level of the first film in that respect.
The humor was a constant, just like the action. I liked that this film didn’t take itself so seriously. The ‘crazy’ military guys were a hoot; the audience clapped and laughed and had a great time. Unfortunately, the sound was a bit garbled. A lot of the lines were dropped and/or mumbled. I want to see this again without having to write notes for Peetimes, and maybe I’ll be in a room with better sound: I wanted to hear all the jokes.
The action was inspired and fun. I’d have liked to see some moments of rest, where both characters and audience get a breather between shoot-em-up set pieces. In most great epics, a sure hand at the directorial helm knows to give us those beats, and I feel this was lacking here. However, this was a such a good time at the cinema, and it was such a relief to have a good Predator movie again, that I can’t help but be a bit ecstatic about enjoying The Predator.
Also, the Predator “dogs” are simply awesome. Great concept. However, I kind of feel an entire plotline with the remaining dog was left on the editing floor. We got to see said pup for a final second in the background — and out of focus! — in the denouement, but his part of the story felt unfinished. If this franchise picks up with this crew again, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that Predator dog trained as a heroic character in the ensemble.
My first instinct was to give this an A-. I usually leave a good film on a bit of a high, and then downgrade things as I deconstruct them for my review. This is what’s happening now. If the characters were truly memorable — if I cared when they died — this would be an easy A. If I recalled anyone’s name, or if there was even a hint of world-building, it’d have stuck with the A-.
B+ is still a fine rating, but the writers should have taken a page from the outstanding Marvel Cinematic Universe films and given us some heart, some really meaningful narrative moments…and there’d be something pretty great to build on. As it was, the big ‘revelation’ felt random, underwhelming, and a tad silly.
One last note: There’s a nice moment of beauty at the end, when the sun finally rises and Main Guy (okay, “Quinn”) takes a little ride outside the spaceship’s shields. (It’s not a spoiler in a sci fi/alien movie to say there’s a spaceship here.) It’s short, but that’s my favorite scene, with the symbolic element of a new dawn, a new era, arising for humanity. I’m not even sure this was intended as more than a little neato set-piece in a rousing death-match feature, but I dug it.
PS: I was expecting an Arnold cameo. Nope. Aw, shucks.
Movie Grade: B-
About the Peetimes: Well, then. You get your money’s worth of action and humor here, and that made finding Peetimes very hard. I found one at around 30 minutes, one at 45 minutes, and one an hour in. Pick any, but definitely USE ONE. The movie gets long and the action keeps speeding up, to the point where even the die hard fans get a bit lost in the final hour, without paying strict attention to everything. Advice: *you don’t want to be squirming around at the end*. I’ve done my best to summarize what happens, and none of the best Predator stuff you came for will be missed at all.
Also on RunPee.com: Each Predator Movie, Rated