Tag Archives: Yvonne Strahovski

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.

Manhattan Night (2016) Movie Review by Darrin Gauthier

MANHATTEN NIGHT

Director: Brian DeCubellis
Writers: Brian DeCubellis (screenplay),  Colin Harrison (novel)
Stars: Adrien Brody,  Yvonne Strahovski,  Campbell Scott

Why I Watched it: I love a good mystery, that’s my reason.
Random Thoughts: The film’s original title was Manhattan Nocturne same as the novel which it’s based written by Colin Harrison.  I have to say Manhattan Night is a bad title for this movie, it makes it sound like a romantic comedy which it is not.

What I liked: I’m a sucker for a good film noir mystery, where the flawed P.I. tries to solve a case that the case doesn’t want solved.  Here we have a reporter not a P.I. and yes they do make a point that reporters working for papers now have it really hard, the damn internet don’t you know.  The film does a nice job of slowly showing the main characters and also showing that a major point of the story will be if the family man reporter Adrien Brody will fall for the women who wants him to find her husband’s killer.

The acting is pretty good here, Brody is fine he can play it grey fairly well.  The supporting cast is good though Jennifer Beals doesn’t have a lot to do, playing the wife role in this kind of movie is thankful but I have to say it’s great that she is still out there and doing different roles, she’s always solid.  The atmosphere and mood is pretty good and the big city is shot well, dark and all in compassing.

What I Didn’t Like: The pacing is very slow and the mystery is alright till you start thinking about it, this is more about character, about people who are damaged and who damage other people.  It’s more of a dark character study and I would have been fine with that but the characters are fleshed out enough.  Campbell Scott is really wasted here, I could make heads or tails of his character, he’s important cause he’s the one dead/missing and he’s seen in flashbacks.

He’s got issues but since we never really get to know him we have no opinion of him, is he bad, is he evil, we don’t know and he becomes a plot point a device to keep the plot going.  The whole will the married guy cheat on his wife with the beautiful client is a very old cliche which could work and has worked but here it falls flat as we know right off the bat where this is going.

I would assume the writers and director wanted this to seem complex but it comes off messy and really unclear what story they want to tell.  I wish Brody and Strahovski had some chemistry some heat between them cause we’re left thinking well he slept with her cause she’s pretty, I’m sorry I need more than that.

Final Thoughts: Not a bad film just not very compelling, I wish the main story and arc had more to it, I never felt invested in the story or these characters and as a mystery it really falls short, a couple of the twists are really silly.  A missed opportunity for me here.

Rating: 4/10