Eppler: "Predator" is a goofy mess - FOX34 Lubbock

Eppler: "Predator" is a goofy mess

"The Predator" is the continuation of the series that started in 1987 with Arnold Schwarzenegger and a group of burly alpha males terrorized by an alien in the forest - a clever twist on the slasher movie formula. It was intense and funny at times, but this new installment plays more like a straight comedy with some downright goofy choices.

The writer and director is Shane Black (a cast member in the original, by the way), whose made a career writing smart, quippy tough-guy action comedies with "Lethal Weapon," "The Last Boy Scout," my favorite "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" and most recently "The Nice Guys." He also made "Iron Man 3," and angered a lot of comic book fans with some major changes. So it's no surprise he'd do something drastically different with "Predator," but the result doesn't work nearly as well.

There's a large ensemble cast - all of them types rather than fleshed out characters: the macho white guy hero, the joke guy, the turrets guy, the cigarette guy, the smart kid with a handicap that's not really a handicap, and the science lady.

I admit I did laugh quite a few times because Black's dialogue is often punchy, smart and well observed. But it's also too much of a good thing. It's never scary or even mildly tense - mainly because the characters are always cracking wise about everything.

The studio ordered rewrites and reshoots and the result is a story feels streamlined with large leaps in logic because it was cut to pieces - including one well-publicized instance of a last-minute cut because Black cast one of his friends who's a sex offender and didn't tell anyone - which is gross. 

In the end, "The Predator" is too silly to be scary, and not coherent enough to be a deconstruction. It's a mess. And the set-up for a sequel feels very optimistic. 

EPPLER'S RATING: * * 

RATING SCALE

* * * * * Incredible - One of the best of the year
* * * * Excellent - Touches greatness with only minor quibbles
* * * Good - Plenty to like, definitely worth seeing
* * Mediocre - You can do better
* Awful  - The worst, an insult to movies

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