Space Junk

This Predator dog don’t hunt

Well, that does it.

After decades of trying, it's become definitively evident: Nobody seems to know how to make a decent Predator sequel.

It's not like the first film was a masterpiece. It was a goofy adventure pic featuring a superstar on the rise, a superstar who has been mysteriously absent from the sequels. Schwarzenegger, in fact, turned down a cameo in the latest franchise installment, The Predator, a movie that simply needed to be just okay to keep pace with the 1987 original. It blows its chance.

As for the Alien vs. Predator attempts? Let's not go there. Let's all go to our happy place where unicorns barf money and favorite candies into our face, a place where those films never happened.

The Predator, technically the fourth Predator film not including those other films we just wished away from memory, certainly had its reasons for getting us excited. Shane Black, who actually played the first character to be killed in this franchise 31 years ago, is its director. This is the man responsible for Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, The Nice Guys and Iron Man 3. That Iron Man 3 credit is the main reason to think Black would be a good pick to lead a beloved genre favorite back to greatness.

Nope. In fact, The Predator actually represents a step backwards from the extremely mediocre Predators (2010), the prior installment that squandered a decent idea with a cheap looking film. The Predator is a lumbering stink bomb through and through.

Boyd Holbrook heads a low rate ensemble cast as Quinn McKenna, a special ops guy in the middle of an assassination attempt when a spaceship crashes nearby and spoils his fun. After a confrontation with the dreadlocked, reptilian faced alien pilot, McKenna scoops up some evidence (a Predator arm gun, a Predator helmet) and sends them to his P.O. box back home so he has proof when the upper level folks label him whacko.

Because he didn't pay the bill on said P.O. box, the nasty package is forwarded to his home and into the hands of his young, autistic son Rory (Jacob Tremblay). Naturally, the boy thinks it's some kind of video game from his pop (and a Halloween mask). He dicks around with the intergalactic toys and gets himself involved in an interplanetary war. If ever there was a film that declared the dangerous perils of video game addiction, it would be this one.

Here's something that really bothered me. In an establishing scene, Rory displays a major sensitivity to sound. He actually crumples to the ground at the mild sound of an alarm which, of course, makes him the taunting target of elementary school meanies. Yet, when Rory is involved in alien battles later in the film, with bombs and guns going off next to his head, he seems perfectly fine. Did he don ear plugs? Is his sound sensitivity specific to classroom settings? Is the screenplay for this movie a colossal mess?

I'm going with the latter. McKenna winds up in league with other misfit soldiers on a bus, including Thomas Jane trying to provide comic relief as the silly soldier with Tourette syndrome. Others jockeying for screen time include Keegan-Michael Key, Alfie Allen, and Augusto Aguilera. Olivia Munn (the best thing about the movie) is also on hand as a wily scientist, along with Sterling K. Brown as the maybe he's bad but maybe he's not guy.

They are all running around in a haphazard, cheap looking CGI shitstorm stew that turns up the gore factor to go with its inane dialogue, many plot holes, and stupid looking alien dogs. More than once characters disappeared where I wasn't 100 percent sure of their fate, a harbinger of bad editing.

There was a lot of confusion during production (including reshoots for a woefully tacked on ending) and the movie looks like it was being shot as a potential 3D offering. Alas, no 3D, which is good news because this movie is not worth the extra two dollars for admission. It's not worth any of your time. It's predatory garbage.

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