Sep 17, 2018
Welcome back to Matinee Mondays! I had a lot of trouble picking today’s film, as the movies available to me weren’t the best. I should probably have gone back to check out some films I missed. But I have a history with this franchise, and a surprising amount to say. If you’re also a fan of science fiction and horror films, check out “Upgrade” (Episode #155), “Killer Klowns from Outer Space” (Episode #201), and last week’s guest review for “Event Horizon” (Episode #254). And if you have any suggestions, let me know at onemoviepunch.com.
Today’s movie is “The Predator” (2018), the franchise reboot film directed by Shane Black and written for the screen in collaboration with Fred Dekker. After a chance encounter in Mexico, special forces super badass Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) finds himself with evidence of the Predator species. After attempting to mail them to his post office box, they end up with his son, Rory McKenna (Jacob Tremblay), who activates a beacon that draws another Predator to Earth, now upgraded with genetically engineered abilities from other species. Now it’s up to Quinn McKenna and a band of psychologically unstable ex-soldiers to save the world. Or something.
I love this franchise. I’ll say that right up front. I loved the first film as an adolescent, for all the wrong reasons. I was intrigued by the second film and its look at the future. I even enjoyed both crossover films. Now, I still haven’t seen “Predators” (2010), and I swear I’m going to get to it, but you know what I loved more than the films? The comic books.
Dark Horse Comics acquired the rights to tell all sorts of wonderful stories that really flesh out the Predator franchise. After I saw the first two films, I tried to find all the Predator comics I could, because I loved the universe, and most especially, the crossovers with the Aliens franchise, another favorite of mine. My favorite crossovers were with Batman, but that’s the kind of playground argument I was making after the first film. I was totally Team Batman. And after reading most of the comic books, I have to say that this film feels the most like a comic book, and that’s a strength.
If you look at the genres listed for this film, one genre you don’t see is comedy. I actually wish it was billed more this way, but I also think the film deals fast and loose with mental illness, especially with the inclusion of Tremblay playing a child with Asperger’s Syndrome, and as a major plot point, has a brain sought after by the Predators, specifically because it is the next step in human evolution. That’s a lot to put on a syndrome that is still being understood by even the best researchers in the field. And let’s not forget the band of ex-soldiers who suffer from Tourette syndrome, suicidal thoughts, manic religiosity, and the list goes on. I don’t know if we’re at the point of inclusion where comedy about mental illness like this is okay, but I also don’t want to deny the opportunity for realistic representation. I do think the humor was all throwback to late 1980s / early 1990s humor, but with some wry twists to callout some of the worst of it, and perhaps a little too much guilty pleasure with the rest of it.
Also from the late 1980s / early 1990s? All the references to the first film, which as far as reboots go, even those in continuity, is appreciated. It poked fun at itself, almost going out of its way to do it. The same way that comic books do, jamming a lot of direct dialogue into a well painted moment, and getting away with a lot more graphic detail. If I went into this expecting an elimination horror film, or a repeat of “AvP: Requiem”, then I would be pissed. But after enough reviews, I went in with a comic book lens, and ended up enjoying it. And I think if it had been marketed better, more in a comic book direction, it could have done better with the critics. I also think had Black not made such a terrible casting decision that caused so much scandal, the film wouldn’t have been as tainted as it has been. And for the record, I’m glad Olivia Munn blew the whistle. Google it if you want more details. Sometimes bad press really is bad press, but this wasn’t Olivia Munn’s fault at all.
“The Predator” (2018) is a more comedic, comic book style reboot of the franchise, and with the pre-credits scene, possibly the first in a series of films. Taking cues from other franchise reboots, the film takes heavy influence from the first film, but also treads dangerous waters with mental illness and comedy. Fans of the franchise should definitely see the film, but be ready for a comic book film, and a more comedic one, to boot.
Rotten Tomatoes: 34%
One Movie Punch: 6.8/10
“The Predator” (2018) is rated R and is currently playing in theaters.