My mind was racing as I watched The Predator in the cinema tonight. I'd heard virtually nothing good about it so my anxious brain kicked into overdrive the whole time the film was going on. As a result of that, I almost feel like I experienced three movies in that theatre. First, obviously the movie on the screen. Secondly, the awesome movie I was theorising could unfurl at the result of each new sequence and plot point, but that sadly never did. And thirdly, the inexcusably awful and franchise-ruining movie that I feared it was about to take a hard left turn into at any minute, and thankfully never did.
And that's really my experience on The Predator overall, and the reason for a stalemate "2.5 outta 5" review: It wasn't as good as it should have been, it wasn't as bad as it could have been. Unfortunately, when the movie I'm writing in my head alongside watching it is better than what's actually on screen, when you take into account that I'm an unimaginative, talentless hack, really doesn't cut it for a sequel to Predator, one of of only five movies I've ever given a perfect rating to.
The best parts of The Predator are when there is an eponymous Predator on screen. So you might think, "Oh it's not a good movie, but it's a good Predator movie", and fair enough a conclusion to draw, but no. Part of the problem is, this movie really could have been pulled off with any aliens at all. Take out the Yautja and replace them with... I dunno, the blue skinned pogo-stick people of Planet Hurfadump, and it can still play out functionally the same. See, although I enjoyed watching the Predators do their thing, there was really nothing beyond cosmetic similarities that made them the Predators we've seen in every movie preceding this one.
I think possibly part of the reason for that is that every other movie with a Predator in it has been an Action Horror movie (albeit Action Horror with ever-increasing Sci-Fi elements from film to film) whereas The Predator is an Action Comedy, just one with some gore. Now I don't think that taking it that route was necessarily and... abysmal failure, let's say, but was Action Comedy the best way to take the Predator franchise? I think it's pretty clear that the answer is no.
Ironic that that direction is being taken by Shane Black, the man who has a history with Predator purely because the crew of the first film were determined to have him to work on the script, which he refused. Now here we are more 30 years later and Shane Black finally has put his name on a Predator movie, and it's not even good.
Fuck. At least it's better than AvP: Requiem!