Earlier this month, our good friend and fellow pop culture enthusiast, Roneel Rama, attended the New Zealand premiere of The Predator on our behalf. Here’s his guest review.
On Tuesday the 11th of September 2018, I was fortunate enough to be invited to the New Zealand premiere of The Predator. I must say, 20th Century Fox really set the scene for the film and I was ready for the adventure.
As I walked into the back of the lobby, I was greeted by a full-size Predator. But fear not, I did not face this foe unarmed. I was handed a (fake) assault rifle and a trusty helmet to defend myself as my photo with the mighty alien was taken.
The event started pretty well and it got better as soon as I moved into the cinema. It was dark, and as I was trying to figure out where to go, a deep voice welcomed me from the darkness. Lush vegetation was covering the walls, truly transforming the usual nondescript entrance into a jungle. It was like being on an adventure. I smiled as the girls behind me shrieked at the bodiless voice.
Once through the jungle, we realised we were safe, it was still just a cinema after all.
Shane Black, the actor who played Hawkins in the original Predator film is back, this time writing and directing the latest instalment. The Predator takes place in 2018 and does a good job of solidifying the franchise as a cohesive universe by going back to the first two movies and taking the simple concept of weather, and interweaving it into the new narrative.
I enjoyed the group of characters that had been assembled, and in the rush to try and introduce everyone, they did a decent job. While the usual unmemorable low-key persons were, well, resigned to the background, the major protagonists received a decent chunk of characterisation.
The film introduces us to Quinn McKenna, played by Boyd Holbrook, whom, together with his ragtag group of morally and mentally unbalanced ex-soldiers, are drawn into an interstellar conflict that has once again been brought to Earth. On the side with the big guns, you will find Alfie Allen, who plays yet another unbalanced character (hello Reek), alongside Keegan-Michael Key (from Key and Peele) and Trevante Rhodes. But those big guns were not the only ones with a rifle. The seemingly sweet biologist Casey Bracket, played by Olivia Munn, was as skilled a combatant as she was enthusiastic about taking samples. Against this unhinged craziness, shone the brilliance of Jacob Tremblay. He plays Rory McKenna, Quinn McKenna’s little boy. The one that is playing with extra-terrestrial technology in the trailer like it is no big deal.
A good action movie is naught without superb visuals, and boy did this movie deliver. Explosions! Guns! Spaceships! Extra-terrestrial beings! More explosions! More guns!
The crew did an exquisite job with the fight scenes as well, chock-full of visual effects and their rendition of the Predator? Quite satisfying I must say, albeit, with a few inconsistencies -but will we ever get this interstellar hunter right?
I must admit, there were some cringey moments while watching. The story for The Predator, while trying to do it’s best to organise a cinematic universe spread over 4 decades, is plagued by a few missteps and moments that are just plain boring. I came for guns and explosions. I don’t need scientific explanations – but that’s just me, and spoiler alert, the spoiler-filled moment at the end of the movie was unnecessarily extra. Or was it just a taste of what is yet to come?
The Predator does take much influence from its predecessors, but it strives to venture forth as its own movie. It does a good job of mixing in some of the action and quips from the original film, while appealing to a new audience through a great combination of humour and gory action sequences. I mean, with Thomas Jane, Keegan-Michael Key and Sterling K. Brown, you can’t go wrong as far as humour is concerned.
In not so many words, the movie is not perfect and does have a few moments that will make long-time fans of the series cringe. But I’ll be lying if I don’t admit that I thoroughly enjoyed this popcorn flick. If you go into it expecting something worthy of an Oscar you will be disappointed, but if you’re out for a bit of fun and action, you’ll walk away entertained.