Tag Archives: Keegan-Michael Key

The Predator (2018) Blu-Ray Review By D.M. Anderson

The Predator

and the Joy of Junk Food

Director: Shane Black

Writers: Fred Dekker, Shane Black 

Stars: Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay, Olivia Munn, Keegan-Michael Key, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen, Augusto Aguilera, Sterling K. Brown, Yvonne Strahovski, Jake Busey, Brian A. Prince.

Who doesn’t occasionally love a decadent snack of empty calories? That’s why I’m a little perplexed right now. Having seen The Predator twice now – once in a theatre and again for this Blu-ray review – I’m still left with this question: Did I watch a different movie than everyone else?

The movie may not have been a critical darling, but what surprises me is the overall negative reaction from audiences, especially longtime fans of the franchise. I’m not sure what they were expecting, but as tasty treats go, The Predator is easily the most satisfying of all the sequels. Much more than the insipid Predator 2 and the somewhat under appreciated Predators, this one has a lot of the same unhealthy ingredients that made 1987’s Predator such enjoyable junk food, right down to musical cues from original composer Alan Silvestri’s iconic score.

Maybe my expectations weren’t that high to begin with – we ain’t exactly talking the Star Wars saga here – but I found The Predator to be a lot of fast-moving, trashy fun. While the film certainly remembers – and acknowledges – the timeline and events established by its predecessors, it isn’t simply more of the same. It has the audacity to tweak with the formula just a bit, adding an alien agenda, of sorts (kinda like extra nuts & fudge on a sundae). It turns out that Earth is more than just the Predators’ favourite hunting ground. Without spoiling the snack, they’ve come to better themselves, so to speak, and need us – one character in particular – to become more efficient killers.

Some of the new ingredients are admittedly ridiculous (alien hunting dog, anyone?), but last thing this franchise needs is the original’s basic plot rehashed yet-again. Besides, the narrative moves along at such a frenetic pace that there’s no point trying to scrutinise it until later. That’s like regretting that sundae while you’re eating it. In the moment, The Predator is by-far, the most action-filled – and bloodiest – entry in the entire franchise, unbound by anything resembling restraint.

But what really sets this one apart from the sequels is its characters. Like the original film, squaring off against the title creature is an eclectic team, this time consisting of soldiers who’ve been relieved of their duties for a variety of criminal or psychological reasons. Self-dubbed The Loonies and led by super-sniper Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook), they are an intensely likeable and amusing bunch despite their sordid histories, making them more than just typical cannon fodder. Olivia Munn is also on-hand as Casey Brackett, the biologist who-first discovers the Predators are evolving, as well as McKenna’s autistic son, Rory (Jacob Tremblay). Refreshingly, Rory isn’t a token kid who merely exists to be rescued (though he eventually does need rescuing); his acute abilities make him integral to the plot (which I’ll concede is also a bit silly).

Writer/director Shane Black is definitely the right guy for the job. In addition to having a supporting role in the original, he did a lot of uncredited rewrites, most-notably the more humorous touches that later became one of his trademarks. Like other action-oriented films he’s since written and/or directed, The Predator is often very funny…even goofy on occasion. A healthy sense of humour has been missing from this franchise for a long time, though some viewers may feel Black tips the scales too much in that direction for their liking.

That being said, I enjoyed The Predator just as much the second time. Sure, it’s ultimately cinematic junk food, but so was the original, which didn’t take itself all that seriously either. In a way, the film plays a lot like a nasty variation of the Jurassic World films, more content with being big, brash popcorn entertainment than breaking new ground. Though some purists may balk at that, sometimes empty calories are just what we need.

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The Star (2017) Movie Review by John Walsh

THE STAR

Director: Timothy Reckart
Writers: Carlos Kotkin (screenplay by), Simon Moore (story by)
Stars: Steven Yeun, Keegan-Michael Key, Aidy Bryant

Well it’s the season to be jolly, just in case you missed that fact, and being the living embodiment of the walking contradiction phrase. I decided to give Sony pictures, Christian animated film ‘The Star’ a viewing this week. I previously said in a podcast that I wouldn’t be watching this but what can I say, I’m a sucker for feel good Christmas films clearly.

This film has taken quite a pounding by critics following its frankly surprising release in theatres. A Christian centric animated film about the ‘holy’ origins of everyone’s favourite annual holiday seems like a straight to dvd affair. Timothy Reckart isn’t exactly a household name in the directing world either, having only really been involved in short films until this point. I have to say though, whilst it’s not going to be challenging Coco for best animation at the Oscars, I didn’t think it was excruciatingly bad. On the contrary, I actually enjoyed it in parts. There was most definitely a few forced comedic moments that fell flat, but in fairness I suspect I’m probably out of the target demographic of this film by a few (25) years.

Plot wise, it doesn’t get any simpler really. It pretty much follows the classic nativity story of Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, King Herod and the three wise men. I hear what you’re probably saying, that’s a story that’s been done to death. You’re absolutely right. This one hasn’t though because it’s from the perspective of a lionhearted, little mill donkey. Said donkey, later christened Bo (Steven Yuen), has delusions of grandeur, seeking to join the royal caravan, whilst toiling away in a wheel house. He seeks a greater purpose in life and believes it has came when he sees the Star of Bethlehem. He tries and fails to escape at first but eventually succeeds many months later after a humorous chase scene up buildings, through chicken pens and markets.

He’s soon taken in by Mary (Gina Rodriguez), named and given a home much to the chagrin of a stressed Joseph (Zachary Levi), still trying to come to terms with his wife’s ‘immaculate conception’. Where Reckart and this film spices up the well trodden source material is with the introduction of two idiot hounds Rufus (Gabriel Iglesias) and Thaddeus (Ving Rhames), who accompany their towering master. A man tasked with killing Mary by King Herod. This gives our animal protagonists a purpose distinctly separate to their owners and propels the story all the way from Nazareth to Bethlehem in unique fashion.

There were three main performances that stood out for me. Firstly, Steven Yeun as Bo was by far the standout; he imbued the character with well meaning sincerity, youthful energy and a real soul. Secondly, Keegan-Michael Key played the dumb as a brush, white dove called Dave and brought most of the laughs in the film. Finally, Aidy Bryan as Ruth the lamb/sheep rounded out the main animal trio with an impressive showing too. Outside those three, there was actually a very decent ensemble performance from a decently put together cast. Rodriguez as Mary, Levi as Joseph were decent too and Oprah was even in there.

Ultimately, I think the combination of a lack of interest from non-Christians, better competition, little to no promotion and lack of a real stellar cast has probably hurt this film a little. It’s very clearly aimed at the younger end of the age spectrum too, as it should be, certainly in regards to the comedy. But in the modern day and age of corporatism, it does reintroduce the holy meaning of Christmas to a new generation via a fun and light hearted adventure.

I’ve seen better and most definitely worse.

Rating: 3/5