Friday, September 28, 2018

Worth Mentioning - Whoever Wins, We Lose

We watch several movies a week. Every Friday, we'll talk a little about some of the movies we watched that we felt were Worth Mentioning.

Four movies of Predators fighting xenomorphs and each other.


Dark Horse Comics had their rights to create comic books based on the 20th Century Fox properties Alien and Predator, so it made total sense that they ended up unleashing these two creatures on each other in an Alien versus Predator comic book in 1990. That comic book, combined with the fact that a xenomorph alien skull can be spotted on the Predator ship in Predator 2, captured the imagination of fans - the hope that there would someday be an Alien / Predator crossover film was born. The next year, writer Peter Briggs wrote an adaptation of that comic book on spec and somehow pulled off the impossible: he sold that script to Fox. The Alien vs. Predator film was officially in development.

Unfortunately, the cinematic project went on to languish in development hell for over a decade, while Dark Horse continued to publish Alien vs. Predator comic books, even teaming with other publishers for expanded crossovers where the creatures went up against characters like Batman and Superman. Alien vs. Predator novels were published, and multiple video games were made. There was serious interest in seeing a movie of this concept... so where was it?

The film finally came along in 2004, with Paul W.S. Anderson directing from a screenplay he wrote with Shane Salerno, and although it cherry picked elements from that original comic book story, it dropped those elements into a film I don't think any Alien or Predator fan had been expecting. It's certainly nothing like the Alien vs. Predator I had in my mind. When I think of mashing up those two franchises, I think of the fact that Predators are drawn to places by heat and conflict - so the setting would be a jungle like in the first Predator (which was the case in the Briggs script; and I still think the sight of xenomorphs crawling around in a thick jungle would be a great visual), and the characters would be Colonial Marines, like in Aliens. I would have taken the original Alien as the first time human beings had ever come in contact with the xenomorph, so the story would be set sometime after Aliens. And the events definitely would not be happening anywhere near Earth.

Anderson had a very different vision for the concept, so different it's like he was purposely defying expectations. His film is set in the cold and on Earth, in Antarctica, to be exact, and it shows us that humanity encountered the xenomorphs long before Alien. About as long before as you can get. In a Chariots of the Gods-esque twist, Anderson reveals that the Predators have been coming to Earth for thousands of years, and these extraterrestrial creatures had a hand in building humanity's ancient civilizations. And for as long as they have been coming to our planet, they've been bringing xenomorphs with them.

There are three cuts of this film out there, but the main choice is between the 101 minute theatrical cut and the 109 minute unrated cut. When I watch it, I tend to watch the unrated, because it gives you some extra Alien and Predator action right up front with an opening sequence that's also on the 103 minute cable cut. The other extra minutes in the unrated cut don't really contain anything that important, but at least there's some extra blood splatter. 12 minutes of its running time are taken up by the end credits, by the way.

That opening scene is set at the Razorback Point Whaling Station in Antarctica in October 1904, and in its two minutes we see a hapless fellow end up between a Predator and a xenomorph, just giving us a quick tease of the fights to come. The film then jumps ahead to October 2004, when a Weyland Corporation satellite spots an unidentified heat signature on Bouvetøya Island, which is the most remote island in the world, sitting 1000 miles from the coast of Antarctica (and that's the nearest land to it). The heat bloom is noticed by a Weyland employee who is seen watching the classic crossover Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman. Alien fans will also notice the name of the company, which in the Alien films was known as Weyland-Yutani. In this film, we meet Weyland's founder, before his company partnered with Yutani.

Anderson made some questionable decisions when putting this film together, but one great choice he made was to throw in some major fan service by casting Lance Henriksen as Weyland Corporation founder Charles Bishop Weyland, establishing that the Bishop android Henriksen played in Aliens was made in honor and in the image of this man. Terminally ill and concerned about his legacy, Weyland wants to beat other organizations to the discovery, so he assembles an exploration team very quickly and gets them out to Bouvetøya Island.

The heat signature revealed that there is a pyramid 2000 feet below the surface of the island (beneath a whaling station that was mysteriously abandoned in 1904), one which has features of Aztec, Cambodian, and Egyptian architecture, so the searchers immediately jump to the correct conclusion that this was the first pyramid ever built, constructed by the first civilization back when Antarctica was habitable. The group brought together to check this structure out includes a drill team, which will take a week to get down to the pyramid, a group of mercenaries brought along for protection (most notably characters played by Tommy Flanagan and Agathe de La Boulaye), archaeologist Sebastian De Rosa (Raoul Bova), chemical engineer Graeme Miller (Ewen Bremner), Weyland's assistant Max Stafford (Colin Salmon), and our heroine, guide Lex Woods (Sanaa Lathan). There are a lot of fodder characters in the group, which is necessary when you have two separate bunches of creatures picking them off, and especially when a xenomorph can't even enter the picture until after they've burst out of someone's chest.

Weyland was right; his group isn't the only one headed toward the island. The heat signature has also drawn in a Predator ship, which sends out a single lazer blast while heading into Earth's orbit that cuts all the way down to the pyramid - when Weyland's people get there, the drilling team finds that their job has already been done for them. While Lex is leading the exploration team into the pyramid, a trio of Predators arrive on the surface and make quick work of the people who were left up there. As soon as the people enter the pyramid, a frozen xenomorph Queen is automatically lifted out of her icy slumber inside the pyramid, held in place by chains, and zapped awake with electricity so she can start pumping out facehugger eggs. Writing on the surfaces tell the people the story of what used to take place here: "only the chosen" could enter a sacrificial chamber, where they would "give their lives so the hunt may begin". Worshipped as gods, the Predators would choose humans who would have the honor to have a facehugger implant a xenomorph in their chest. The chestbursters would come ripping out of them, and then the Predators would hunt down the xenomorphs. This would happen every 100 years. The corpses of the last group to take part in this ritual are still on the slabs in the sacrificial chamber.

Soon enough, this automated factory-style pyramid is delivering eggs to the sacrificial chamber, where a new group of people get "impregnanted" by facehuggers. With the Predators now inside the pyramid as well, the doors slam shut, trapping everyone inside... And for the purposes of this crossover, the chestbursters have to incubate very quickly, and then the xenomorphs have to grow very quickly, so we can get to what everyone came to this movie to see. The fights.

So a scenario that was once envisioned as being capable of delivering a film around Predators and Aliens fighting in an expansive landscape with heavily armed humans in the middle actually has Predators and Aliens fighting in a confined space that has shifting walls, with some quickly killed armed humans in the middle, along with a guide and some intellectuals. A badass epic this is not, rather it's just a low-key B-level creature feature.

It seems like Fox didn't have a great deal of faith in Alien vs. Predator by the time it was finally made. I've always felt like the decision to have the story play out within a pyramid was a budgetary one, which seems to have been confirmed by quotes from Anderson that imply the film had a surprisingly low budget. In addition to that, the studio released this mash-up of gory, violent franchises to theatres with a PG-13 rating. That's why I like watching the unrated cut - at least it has blood in it, even if it is CG. Whenever a franchise goes from R to PG-13, as happened with Live Free or Die Hard (also from Fox) and The Expendables 3, it's always done in hopes of drawing in a wider audience, and it's never met with positivity.

I never would have guessed that Alien vs. Predator would take place in a pyramid (especially not one buried in snow and ice), but back when I was crafting Predator fan fiction as a little kid, one of my ideas did involve Arnold Schwarzenegger's character from the first film battling a Predator at a pyramid. So I beat this movie to the idea by a good 15 years. Although what I imagined happened is that Fox told Anderson they wanted this movie to be made on the cheap in one location, so he just decided to drop the creatures into a scenario lifted from a 1967 Doctor Who serial called Tomb of the Cybermen.

It takes almost an hour to get to the monster fights (59 minutes in the unrated cut), and you have to appreciate the fact that Predators enjoy a challenge. They won't kill unarmed people, they won't kill the pregnant or terminally ill, and they gave themselves a hell of a challenge with these xenomorph hunts, which are a rite of passage for their species. Within the first short confrontation, two of this film's three Predators are killed. Keeping these creatures in check falls on the shoulders of the last Predator and the dwindling number of people around... And a flashback lets us know that this situation does get out of hand from time to time. A Predator in the past was so overwhelmed by an army of xenomorphs that it had to detonate its self-destruction wrist bomb. That's how a whole civilization got wiped out. Luckily this last Predator is kind of a badass.

All of the Predators in this film were played by 7'1" former basketball player Ian Whyte, taking over the role from the late Kevin Peter Hall. The hunters are bulkier this time around and not as impressive as the ones Hall played, but Whyte did a capable job bringing them to life. During the fights and massacres they take part in, the Predators use updated versions of previous weapons, and again none of these seem as impressive as previous versions. The classic shoulder cannon blasts out lame blobs of CG, the flesh-cutting net seems to have gotten a downgrade because now we see the mechanism that tightens it on prey, the throwing disc are now like shurikens, and the gauntlet blades have been extended. The spear is pretty much the same.


In the comic book series, a human female was deemed worthy to join the ranks of the Predators, and the same basic thing happens here. It was quite controversial among viewers, but Lex earns the trust of the final Predator and ends up fighting the xenomorphs at its side. The Predator even provides her with a shield made from a xenomorph head and a spear made from a tail. Lathan had some big shoes to fill, being the first heroine in an Alien movie who wasn't Sigourney Weaver. Lex is no Ripley, not even close. She's a very bland, forgettable character, who has a very bland, forgettable almost-romance with Sebastian. Actually, the way she laughs when he points out that the moon is in "hunter's moon" stage is memorably bad.

Alien vs. Predator is subpar overall. It's not anywhere near what an Alien vs. Predator movie could have or should have been. It doesn't have any great characters (although there are great moments with Weyland), it has poorly written dialogue, it's not that great at executing its unexpected ideas. But there is some fun to have with watching it, if you're in the mood to just watch a goofy monster mash flick that happens to have Predators and Aliens in it. It's not an ideal representation of these creatures, but it allows fans to spend some more time with them.

I'm still left wanting to see an awesome Alien vs. Predator movie that's about Colonial Marines fighting the creatures in a jungle, though.


The Alien xenomorphs take on traits of the creatures they incubate inside and come bursting through the chests of, and the first Alien vs. Predator film ended with the "birth" of an alien we had to see more of - a xenomorph that incubated inside a Predator. A Predalien.

AVP co-writer Shane Salerno wrote a sequel script that picked up at the exact moment AVP ended, visual effects artists Greg and Colin Strause signed on to make their feature directorial debut with the follow-up, and the hype said that this film was going to make up for any issues fans had with the first one. Starting with the rating. Were you disappointed that Alien vs. Predator was PG-13? Don't worry, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem is going to be a darker, more violent, R-rated affair.


The hype didn't hold up. Requiem is significantly worse than its predecessor. It certainly is a darker film, though, in more ways than one. This is one of the darkest movies I've ever seen - and by that I mean visually, it's incredibly dark. You can barely seen what's happening in the night scenes (which take up a large portion of the film), and even scenes that take place in broad daylight have dark shadows. Some viewers adjust the brightness on their television sets when they watch this one, trying to see what's going on.

Unfortunately, there's not much reward for that effort.

The setting is once again 2004 Earth, as a Predator ship that departed Antarctica at the end of the previous movie (and happens to be carrying a bunch of facehuggers in glass tanks) comes crashing down in the small town of Gunnison, Colorado after the Predalien runs amok on it. At least Paul W.S. Anderson had chosen to set his unexpectedly earthbound AVP in one of the most remote locations on the planet, so it made sense the existence of the xenomorphs would remain a secret until the events of Alien (or the prequels Prometheus and Alien: Covenant which Ridley Scott recently made, but they completely disregard and contradict the stories of the AVP films anyway). But dropping them right into the middle of America? They were really pushing it with this one.

The crashing ship sent out a distress signal, so while the facehuggers escape into the Colorado wilderness and begin latching onto people to create xenomorphs, we get a glimpse of the Predator homeworld, where a lone Predator responds to the signal and heads off to Earth. The Predators of the previous film were inexperienced "teenagers" undergoing a rite of passage. The Predator in this one (again played by Ian Whyte) is a hardened warrior who's coming in to kick some ass, save the day, and clean up this mess. It's one of the only great things about this film, and some moments with this Predator feel very much like moments with the ones from the first two Predator movies.

Xenomorphs and the Predalien are already wreaking havoc in Gunnison by the time the Predator makes it to Earth, so it has its work cut out for it. In its alien-killing endeavor, the Predator uses weapons introduced in previous films - the shuriken, the gauntlet blades, the shoulder cannon (but this Predator has one on each shoulder), the spear - and some new ones: a pistol that is created from the shoulder cannons, little devices that send out a pattern of alien-dicing lazers, and the coolest of the new weapons, a whip that seems to be made out of a xenomorph tail and can cut through the things it wraps around. The Predator also pours an acidic liquid on the dead aliens and corpses of chestbursted people, destroying the evidence so xenomorphs can remain a mystery to most of the human race.

The worst thing about this film is the dark image, which I have to believe was not a conscious choice on the part of cinematographer Daniel Pearl, whose career goes back to the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Up there with the image, though, are the human characters. Never did I expect, nor did I wish to see an Alien and/or Predator movie where one of the lead characters is a pizza delivery boy. But that's what Salerno and the Strause Brothers brought us. An AVP protagonist who is a bullied pizza boy, Johnny Lewis as Ricky Howard. Other Gunnison residents include Ricky's older brother Dallas (Steven Pasquale), who has just gotten back from serving three years in prison, local sheriff Eddie Morales (John Ortiz), war veteran / mother Kelly O'Brien (Reiko Aylesworth), and some teens Ricky knows, including his love interest Jesse (Kristen Hager). None of these characters are particularly interesting, because they're not given enough to do. Kelly fares the best, while eleven years later I'm still appalled that there's an Alien / Predator movie starring a pizza delivery boy.

Although that's not as appalling as the sequence in which they have the Predalien infiltrate the maternal ward of a hospital so it can pump alien "bellybursters" into the pregnant women there. That's how the Predalien multiplies, and it's atrocious. Why go there? Why put something so awful into the middle of this dopey monster mash flick? Just to be edgy and earn the R? That's not what fans wanted an AVP movie to be rated R for.

Things get pretty bad in Gunnison, so bad that the military rolls in with a plan to nuke the place... after we get a sub-Aliens sequence of soldiers firing on and getting wiped out by xenomorphs. So the higher-ups do learn of their existence. The military is represented by Robert Joy as Colonel Stevens, but when this film was in pre-production the initial hope was that the character would be Adam Baldwin's Predator 2 character Garber. It would have been cool if that had worked out.

Despite having a fair amount of action, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem is more lifeless than you could have ever imagined an AVP movie could possibly be. A lot of that is to do with the darkness; it's a bummer to watch scenes where you know something cool is happening but you can't see a damn thing. It's very frustrating, and it's tough to get excited about a black screen. By the time it reaches the third act I'm desperate for the movie to end since I can't see it anyway.

What a mess this is. What a missed opportunity. This marks the end of the Alien vs. Predator cinematic series, to date and for the foreseeable future. It's a shame these movies never got anywhere close to living up to the potential of the concept. It could have been amazing if we had gotten an AVP that blended the tone and style of Predator with Aliens. That may never be.

The Strause Brothers wanted to come back to make another AVP that finally would have involved Colonial Marines, but even though that's the scenario I wanted to see, they're not the directors I want to have bringing it to the screen. The jump to the future is set up in the final scene, where Risa Yutani (Francoise Yip), head of the Yutani Corporation that will someday partner with the Weyland Corporation, gets her hands on the Predator's plasma pistol. The tech of this device was meant to inspire a leap ahead in space travel technology for the sequel.


Around the time that From Dusk Till Dawn was released, there was talk that director Robert Rodriguez would be directing a Predator sequel titled Predators, like the sequel to Alien was titled Aliens. Apparently Fox had hired him to write the script while he was preparing for Desperado, and he turned in a first draft on August 2, 1996. Then the idea of making Predators was scrapped because Rodriguez's idea would have been too expensive to bring to the screen. Truthfully, we lucked out, because that first Predators script made no sense as a Predator sequel. It brought back Arnold Schwarzenegger's character from the first film, which was set in 1987, but dropped him into a futuristic interplanetary adventure that he didn't fit into, and had him in trouble for deserting the military when the character's military days were already behind him in '87. Making matters worse, the Predators in the script were nothing at all like the creatures as we know them, running gladiatorial games with all sorts of different species, performing surgeries on people to attach alien limbs to them or give them mechanical prostheses, and keeping human slaves. They trade tech to unscrupulous humans who provide them with those slaves. These aren't honorable hunters, they're a dangerous species that could invade our planet and take it over. Maybe the script could have worked for an original sci-fi flick, but not for a Predator movie.

More than a decade later, when plans for a third Alien vs. Predator were abandoned, Fox dug up Rodriguez's script and hired him to produce a film based on it. Thankfully, the script was given a complete overhaul by Alex Litvak and Michael Finch, so the story director Nimrod Antal brought to the screen was quite different from what Rodriguez originally wrote. Really the only things from the '96 draft that made it into the finished films were the idea of there being different classes of Predator, a "classic Predator" having been tied to a totem pole by other Predators, and an otherworldly setting with different alien species on it. Other than that, everything was deservedly deleted.

Instead of Dutch and a space-travelling Special Ops team being forced to fight in futuristic gladiatorial games, the film centers on a group of modern day people who have been abducted from Earth and dropped - literally, they regain consciousness while falling through the sky with parachutes on their backs - onto an alien planet where a trio of Predators hunt them through a jungle environment. Sticking with the idea of Predators wanting to go up against worthy opponents, all of these people have racked up a body count back on their home planet. They are a cast-against-type Adrien Brody as soldier-turned-mercenary Royce; Brazilian actress Alice Braga playing Israeli sniper Isabelle; Walton Goggins as Stans, a serial killer and rapist who was abducted from San Quentin's death row two days before his scheduled execution; frequent Rodriguez collaborator Danny Trejo as drug cartel enforcer Cuchillo; Spetsnaz commando Nikolai (Oleg Taktarov); Mahershala Ali, then going by Mahershalalhashbaz Ali, as Revolutionary United Front soldier Mombasa; Yakuza enforcer Hanzo (Louis Ozawa Changchien); and Topher Grace as a doctor named Edwin... What is Edwin doing here?

All of these people are equipped with their own personalized weapons, including a sniper rifle for Isabelle, a shiv for Stans, and a minigun for Nikolai, a nod to the "Ol' Painless" minigun wielded by Jesse Ventura in the first Predator. Hanzo doesn't start out with a samurai sword, but he obtains one, and puts it to use in my favorite scene of the movie: a duel with a Predator, fought in a field of tall grass. Samurai sword vs. gauntlet blade. A bigger blade than in the original, like AVP.

The minigun isn't the only nod back to the '87 film. In reboot style, this film is packed with them, like having characters take a waterfall tumble, having them find traces and remains of previous prey, and having Royce coat himself in mud to hide his body heat from the heat-seeking hunters. The film also builds up to the Predators like a reboot would. We watch the characters make their way through the jungle for a long time while Predator-vision watches them, but we don't see the Predators. We don't get a proper reveal of a Predator until 38 minutes in - and that's of the "classic Predator", one that looks more like the Predators that have come before than the other ones in this movie do, that has been tied up and left for dead.

There are four Predators in this movie, with the classic Predator being played by 6'5" Derek Mears, best known for playing iconic slasher Jason Voorhees in Friday the 13th 2009. The others, bigger and meaner, were referred to as Super Predators in the script and were played by Brian Steele (6'7") and Carey Jones (also 6'7"). All of them tall guys, but also shorter than previous Predators Ian Whyte (7'1") and Kevin Peter Hall (7'3"). Those lost inches don't really read all that much. The other Predators turn off their invisibility cloaking 42 minutes in... and this long build-up does affect the rewatchability of the film for me, because this build-up isn't nearly as interesting as the one in the first Predator. And this is a sequel, after all. We know what the Predators are, we're there to see them, so don't make us wait 40 minutes to see them.

Isabelle knows what they are. She knows the story of what happened in Guatemala in 1987 (the first movie). So she gets to do a little storytelling like the Anna character did in '87. The group gets more information on what's after them when they run into the survivor of a previous hunt, U.S. Army soldier Noland (Laurence Fishburne), who lives on a crashed ship and gets around with stolen Predator tech. Something else left over from Rodriguez's original script, humans using Predator gear. It's Noland who lets us know that there are two different types of Predators at work here, different in a way similar to the difference between dogs and wolves, and they have a blood feud going on. Noland has been stranded on this planet for quite a while, and that hasn't had a positive impact on his mental state, making him a fun character for Fishburne to play.

In general, the characters are a surprisingly likeable bunch for an assemblage of killers. Some have more depth than others, but they all get their moments to shine. Surprisingly, it's Trejo who gets short changed most of all. Rodriguez got him in there for a glorified cameo, and that's it. Brody handles the action hero thing just fine, Braga makes for a solid heroine, Goggins draws some laughs while saying terrible things. Even the out-of-place Grace finds a way to fit in.

There's nothing to Predators other than the characters being hunted by the title characters for the entire film, building up to a climactic battle in which Royce teams up with the classic Predator to take on its traitorous cousins. So if a human and Predator teaming up put you off of Alien vs. Predator, you'll have the same problem in this one, although there might be less cringing with the way the team-up is handled here. I don't know why this Predator blood feud element was necessary, it's not something I ever would have chosen to work into this franchise, but it's not a terrible thing.

The Predators employ some new tactics in their hunt, like setting loose dog-like creatures on their quarry and getting a birds-eye view of them with a falcon drone. Their weapons are ones we all know. The gauntlet blades, the shoulder cannons, and the self-destruct bomb. This movie doesn't add any new weapons to the arsenal, in fact it's missing some.

I don't think Predators is on the level of Predator or Predator 2, but it's a fine sequel and after the letdown of the Alien vs. Predator movies this was a strong return to form - a surprise, given how bad that initial script was. The film stayed much truer to the franchise's roots than the '96 script did.

There was talk of Rodriguez producing a sequel to Predators. I'm not quite sure why that never got off the ground, but I didn't really need a continuation with the surviving characters from this film anyway. 


Fresh off of writing Lethal Weapon, Shane Black had an acting role in the first Predator film in 1987 because director John McTiernan wanted him on set to do some work on the script. (And Black has said he didn't do much writing on that film, if any at all.) Thirty years later, 20th Century Fox made the interesting choice to go back to Black, now an established director as well as screenwriter, and offer him the chance to write and direct his own Predator sequel. Black took the offer, crafting the screenplay with Fred Dekker, who directed the 1987 classic The Monster Squad from a script he had written with Black.

Those '87 roots come through in The Predator; if it weren't for the abundant use of CGI special effects, this movie would feel like something that could have come out in the late '80s or early '90s, and it definitely feels like the work of the guys who wrote The Monster Squad,  even though it doesn't have that movie's charm.

Rising star Boyd Holbrook of A Walk Among the Tombstones and Logan stars as Army Ranger sniper Quinn McKenna, a role Benicio Del Toro was briefly attached to. After witnessing the crash landing of a Predator ship while on a mission in Mexico, McKenna is able to gather some Predator tech and - with government agents closing in on him - manages to ship the stuff back to the states, where it unintentionally winds up in the possession of his young, autistic son Rory (Jacob Tremblay).

Rory is able to decipher the information contained in the tech pretty easily, but it's Halloween and he's more interested in wearing the Predator mask to go trick-or-treating in. Unfortunately, having these items makes Rory a target for not only the government, but also the Predator (6'10" Brian A. Prince), which wants its stuff back... And about halfway through the film, we learn that a second Predator, a hulking, mutant hybrid creature, has come to our planet to stop the other Predator from doing whatever it came here to do. It even brings another breed of dog-like creatures along to help hunt the other one down.

Meanwhile, the government agents are trying to get McKenna out of their way by passing his story of space aliens off as the imaginings of an unstable mind, so he ends up in the company of a group of fellow soldiers suffering from PTSD, a quirky and amusing bunch who are referred to as The Loonies and are played by the likes of Trevante Rhodes, Thomas Jane, Keegan Michael-Key, Augusto Aguilera, and Alfie Allen. McKenna enlists the aid of these guys on his new mission to protect his son from G-men and Predators alike, and along the way they gain the assistance of evolutionary biologist Casey Bracket (Olivia Munn), who is interested in studying the Predators and figuring out why they have been visiting our planet more frequently in recent years.

Sterling K. Brown plays the head of the Predator tracking and studying project called Stargazer, and the inclusion of him and his team is a nice follow-up on the events of Predator 2, where it was established that the government is well aware that these alien creatures have been coming to Earth for a long time. The Predator even ties itself directly to Predator 2 by having Jake Busey appear as the son of the character his father Gary played in the earlier sequel. He doesn't get to do nearly as much as his dad did, though.

There were a lot of things I liked about The Predator - the idea of Project Stargazer, the character interactions, the Loonies, the "these guys made The Monster Squad" feeling that came from the inclusion of the little kid, the Halloween setting, and the suburban locations... But I also had issues with it, especially when things seem to go completely off the rails in the third act - a third act that was put together in reshoots, after the original one (which included more, friendlier Predators) was ditched. It feels messy, and in the final moments it has the most ridiculous set-up for a sequel a Predator movie could possibly have. Black made Iron Man 3, and apparently thinks the best way forward for this franchise is to add in some Tony Stark tech.

That ending ties into the thing I liked the least about the film: the mutant Predator and its feud with the "classic Predator". The idea of warring factions of Predators wasn't something I was overly fond of in Predators, and it's even worse here because Black and Dekker decided to work in another element from Robert Rodriguez's wrong-for-the-franchise first draft of Predators: the idea that Predators are plotting to invade Earth and take over. I can accept the concept put forth in Alien vs. Predator that the Predators were the "ancient aliens" that helped the advancement of humanity, but I can't go along with the idea of Predators invading the planet. The original Predator got the nature of these things across perfectly: they're hunters seeking worthy prey in the midst of conflict. They have a code of honor; they won't even harm someone who's unarmed. They are not an invading force. Why do filmmakers want to move them away from being the sort of characters we have always been told they are?

The Predator provides a decent amount of fun, but it's sloppy, and I definitely do not want to see a sequel that picks up from that goofball ending.

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