Carl becomes the hunted as he tackles the divisive import Blu-Ray release of Shane Black’s The Predator
I hate it when major studios interfere with the work of a director. Sometimes, I agree it’s to the advantage of the film but nine times out of ten, its this meddling that ruins what would have been a great film. Take The Predator as an example. I actually like the film but the ending is so poor and such a rip off of another film ending (Independence Day: Resurgence) that it completely ruined the film as a whole. What makes it even worse is the writer and director of the film is Shane Black. Black has written fantastic screenplays including the original Lethal Weapon and has written and directed such grand fair as Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Iron Man 3. He also appeared in the original Predator in 1987. The man knows his stuff, knows the world of the Predator first hand so why interfere with his work in this way?
The Predator | From 20th Century Fox
The film starts with the crash of a Predator ship on earth following an attack on it in space. Army Ranger Sniper Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) witnesses the crash and goes to investigate. He and his team are attacked by a Predator and his team are killed. McKenna manages to incapacitate the creature before stealing some of its weaponry and mailing it home to his autistic son, thus having proof of extraterrestrial life. However, upon his return home to the States, he is captured and held for interrogation by Will Traegar (Sterling K Brown). Traegar also has the incapacitated Predator in a lab for examination and experimentation. He recruits evolutionary biologist Casey Brackett to help study it under the guidance of Sean Keyes (Jake Busey). McKenna is shipped off with other government captives to an unknown destination. Each man has their own story to tell and laugh at McKenna’s. And then the Predator awakens.
The film itself is really good and exciting up to this point. References are made to the events of the first two Predator films and it is how a Predator film should be, good story, a few scares and the creature itself is back on top form. The escape is typical of the series and is a welcome sequence, full of Predator action and buckets of blood and gore. Black, as I’ve stated before knows first hand about his subject material and is on top form here. He even manages to turn THAT classic Arnie line from the original on its head. He dips into what’s gone on before and uses it to the advantage of the film, even bringing in Jake Busey as the son of Agent Peter Keyes from Predator 2 who was played by his real-life father Gary Busey. That’s one of the many masterstrokes Black pulls out of the bag. It’s just a shame after this point, the film starts to go downhill. The arrival of a larger, more violent Predator and his mission makes the film weaker.
Adding to the mess is the way Black then decides to destroy the Predator mythology. Instead of the Predators coming to earth to hunt as had been established before, he makes it that the creatures are here to obtain human DNA to upgrade themselves instead. I’m sorry but no. The mythology was fantastic as it was, there’s no need to change it to suit someone else’s requirements. The changing of the mythology is, to me, the film companies choice, not Shane Black’s. However, he has to shoulder the blame as he is the writer and director and has let 20th Century Fox executives command his movie. Whatever happened to Director integrity?
The film’s transfer to disc is glorious. The image is sharp without blurring and represents the colours of the film well. The film is presented in its theatrical ratio of 2.39:1 and fits the screen well. Every aspect of the film’s picture is top notch. The only thing I found wrong with it was the transfer made the practical effects stand out while the optical effects looked like a cheap CGI movie. It takes you out of the film, knowing what you’re seeing is cheap CGI and not reality. True, the Predators are not real and neither are their ‘dogs’ but I want to believe what I’m seeing is real. I want to suspend my belief for the films running time. In addition, the third act looks a bit too dark and the effects suffer a bit but that is due to the reshoots that were done on the film in post-production. The picture is pretty solid for the most part though.
The audio is magnificent. Every noise in the film can be heard, every gunshot, every drop of blood hitting the floor or dripping off a Predator’s blade, background sounds are clear without impeding on the dialogue being spoken in front of it. The soundtrack mix is probably the best thing about the disc in general. The film is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix and is all the better for it. It makes Henry Jackman’s score (a bit of a letdown but hey, Alan Silvestri’s score will never be bettered) come through the speakers wonderfully.
The special features are only really filler material at best. The Predator films disc releases are not known for having an abundance of special features in reality anyway but at least the disc does have something to give to us. The obligatory deleted scenes are present here, no one can stand out and claim they were removed unfairly. It would have been nice if some of the footage from the original third act was present on the disc so we could make up our own minds as to whether the studio interference was warranted or not but no such luck. Nothing to see here, move along.
A Touch Of Black is a nice little featurette which focuses on Shane Black’s dealings and history with the franchise. The featurette deals with Black’s appearance in the 1987 original as well as his involvement with this new entry. He details his directorial style, his reasons for bringing more comedy into the film and his attempts to breath new life into the saga and the mythology.
Predator Evolution takes a look at the design of the classic creature, how they updated him and the challenges of bringing him to life on screen. Quite a nice in-depth and interesting feature.
The Takedown Team takes a look at the films cast and the chemistry they have in the film as an ensemble.
Predator Catch Up does what it says on the tin. This is basically just a rundown of events from the saga so far bringing the uninitiated viewer up to speed with what’s gone before. It’s a lengthy montage that in reality spoils most if not all the best moments of the previous two films.
The Gallery is just a short gallery of concept art focussing mainly on the technology and spacecraft in the film.
In all reality, it boils down to one thing. You either love the Predator franchise or you don’t. And I do and think this one is great fun. All problems put to one side and viewed simply for what it is and it’s a fun-filled ride guaranteeing 107 minutes of blood, guts, mayhem and some genuine laughs along the way. Many of these come courtesy of Thomas Jane but the cast gets to join in the fun along the way.
The film, despite its flaws and a terrible ending, is worthy of purchase and sitting down with late at night. Don’t expect any Arnold Schwarzenegger cameo though. It’s been well documented that the actor wasn’t happy with the size of his role in the film and subsequently turned down the chance to be a part of it. Shame but you can’t have everything. Just relax, take your shoes off and allow yourself to say hello to an old friend once again. While not perfect by any means, take my word for it and grab yourself a copy to keep for those late, cold nights and allow The Predator to keep you entertained.
My Rating: Film: 7/10 Disc: 6/10
Until next time…
GET TO DA CHOPPA!!
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Carl Roberts is a Senior Entertainment/Books and Literature Correspondent for The Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force frequently!