MENTAL NOTE

"Though we cannot make our sun stand still, yet we will make him run."
Blue, resist the urge to use facebook. You can do it. Good luck.
Cats and dogs can be friends. So can cowboys and indians. So can we.
Will you ever reach Bora?

Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Predator (2018): That Desperate Tone-deaf Sequel Wannabe

This movie is so bad I don't even know where to start. So let's start by stating what's actually good about this Predator by Committee. Nothing. Absolutely nothing.


You see, there's only so much anyone who knows the original is willing to ignore for the sake of not being called a crybaby fanboy whose mama just burned his favorite Predator action figure. Hard as I tried, though, I could not ignore the discord between what was shown on the big screen and the movie score that was trying its darnest to impress me and suck me into the mediocre action. I inadvertently laughed out loud — "HAHAHA! This movie sucks!" — (twice!) when the all too familiar bombastic main score started but, instead of a team of impressive over the top muscle men lead by Schwarzenegger, out of the chopper steps this skinny guy minus charisma who was trying so hard to look badass (by not blinking) while clearly knowing he was not. I like to think he heard me laugh. "HAHAHA!" It was like being forced to listen to the suspenseful Jaws tune while looking at an itsy bitsy gold fish fresh out of kindergarten. It just doesn't impress. Or convince.

Mild spoilers ahead.

And when one of the main characters said, "You're one beautiful motherf@cker," I knew I was in a world of hurt. Damn you, movie. Damn you, committee. And damn you, director Shane Black. You should've known better. Not only do I hate you for ruining one of the most iconic lines in movie history for the sake of sounding smart ("Hey, let's take Arnold's line and have this scientist say beautiful instead of ugly!" "Whoa! That's so, so... smart! This movie is so going to be a hit!"). Not only do I hate you for shoehorning in this reference when no one in the movie audience is ever going to agree that the predator is beautiful. It's damn ugly. ("That's the joke, man. Are you stupid?") But I also hate you for not even caring about the rhythm of the now forever butchered line: "You're one beautiful motherf@cker..." Shane Black, are you tone-deaf? Can't you tell there's one syllable too many? Talk about shoehorning something in! ("Yeah, well, the opposite of ugly is beautiful.") I don't give a rat's ass. There's one syllable too many. How hard can it be to at least get the rhythm right so that the new line sounds as powerful or the original one? How about, "You're ONE YUMMY motherf@cker!"? Well? (Yes, guys can be yummy, too!)

And boy, was that female scientist butch! She (Olivia Munn) was trying so hard not to come across as a weak woman that I wanted to slap her in the face and say, "Say that line again. I dare you. Say that line AGAIN!" You're one beautiful motherf@cker... Give me a break. Plus she was a scientist who somehow knew how to use a machinegun. Just because. This wasn't Aliens' Ellen Ripley, who was taught how to use military weapons. No, sir. This wasn't Terminator's Sarah Conner, who was taught how to use military weapons. No, ma'am. This was The Last Jedi's Rey "The Chosen" Nobody, who was not taught how to use weapons; she just miraculously knew how to use them, and expertly, too. She was that good and that impressive and... that butch. Yes, we're talking the new action woman otherwise known as Marie "Frigging'" Sue. Let me ask you a question: why do tough women in movies always try so hard to sound like men? Watch this movie if that's your thing. (And all the SJWs in the house go, "Boooo!") Oh shut your trap.

Now, to add insult to injury, the entire movie is as tone-deaf as Ruin Johnsonless on steroids. What do I mean by that? Well, somehow this R-rated movie centers on a kid as if we were watching a Steven Spielberg flick and all the kids in the audience are supposed to identify with the youngling. Except that R-rated means there are no younglings to be seen, so what is your game plan, movie? And somehow this movie about a kid (and, okay, I admit, his father) shows us decapitations, faces being smashed in beyond recognition, dismemberments, people getting shot and bodies exploding. Of course, some of these killings are instantly cushioned by a joke that doesn't work. What's wrong with Hollywood these days? Weren't the ill-timed jokes in The Last Jedi painful enough? Is this a new trend?

Speaking of jokes that fall flat, there's a pussy joke in this umpteenth installment. Yes, there is. Don't be shocked. After all, this IS an R-rated movie. So there's a pussy joke, but strangely enough, the male soldiers in this movie are instantly reprimanded by the strong female scientist who knows how to expertly use a machinegun. Yes, they are. Pussy jokes are not funny, and pussy-licking (pardon my Swedish but I'm quoting the scientist) won't be tolerated. Did I mention that the joke wasn't funny to begin with? Well, if pussy jokes aren't funny (especially in kid-centered movies), why include one to begin with? I can think of two reasons: (1) the scientist's reprimanding her male companions serves as a way to spread the SJW meta-message to all you sick men out there who think that pussy jokes are funny that tough women are not amused by pussy jokes and will smash your face in or sue you; (2) to shoehorn in another callback to the original movie, which included a very successful pussy joke (and don't make me say this twice, because there's bound to be an echo).

Speaking of echoes, this movie is a desperate attempt to capture the magic of the first Predator. It just doesn't know how. It also doesn't know that it really shouldn't. As said, the score doesn't match the characters, but at least they tried. Storywise The Predator is a strange jumble of been-there-done-that storylines, and at some point I wondered if the writers and director believed their own story. I don't think they did. Which is why jokes are used as a cheap distraction device to make us laugh whenever the word alien is dropped. I mean, no one believes in aliens, right, we get that, so the only way to make us viewers buy into the whole this-thing-really-is-an-alien scenario is through distracting jokes rather than solid storytelling that focusses on its subject and suspends all disbelief in the process. I guess that's hard work requiring an app that hasn't been invented yet, so insert another joke, will you? And so they did. Oh how I missed 1987. When I was served another plate of soldier hiding in bushes looking through binoculars and, yes, there are captives, I heard my inner-voice whisper, Oh no. Check please.

So there's nothing good about this sequel? Surely everything is bigger and better than in the 1987 John McTiernan-directed original? Bigger, yes. Better... not even after a bottle of Temptress Single Malt. But, granted, there are a lot of big things in this movie. The first big thing that springs to mind is the very, very big predator that is supposed to scare the heck out of us, but, like the bigger terminator in Terminator 4, the bigger dino in Jurassic World and the bigger shark in The Meg, just doesn't. But bigger is better, so the committee decided to showcase a very, very big predator with a mouth so big it puts Mick Jagger to shame. It's unintentonally laughable. Google a still and you'll know what I mean. (Or scroll down.) "Jeez, you got a big mouth. Jeez, you got a big mouth." "Why did you say that twice?" I said, "I didn't." And speaking of porn, this movie has a lot in common with that particular movie industry: zero buildup, boom, boom, here is the predator for your viewing pleasure in harsh daylight. Scared yet?

No, not really. The only thing that scares me is that I promised a handful of people I would go and see this movie with them.

P.S. This is a movie where the predator and its spacedogs go to the same barbershop. (Penny for your thought.)

★★☆☆☆

Bigger is better.