6) The Predator: Last Minute Retread
Although not as irredeemable as its reputation suggests, The Predator remains a viable contender for the title of ‘’most disappointing film of 2018’’. Messy, sloppily structured and falling way short of Shane Black’s usual standard, it’s unfortunately reminiscent of Suicide Squad or The Mummy. At least in terms of the obvious studio meddling and blatant compromise.
The area with the strongest whiff of interference is surely the editing, as you got the distinct impression that a lot of the connective tissue was left on the cutting room floor. In fact, the entire movie plays like it’s stuck on fast-forward, as if the team were so ashamed of the end-result that they found themselves in a desperate hurry to get to the credits. Oddly enough, the same hasty approach seems to have been applied to the action sequences, which we zip through at a stupefying rate. This cripples any sense of fun or excitement that we are meant to derive from the shootouts, because we are rarely afforded the opportunity to absorb what’s happening.
Take the slapdash finale for instance, which thrusts our main characters into a dense, woodland environment, where they are then stalked by the galaxy’s ugliest motherfucker and picked off one-by-one. It’s the closest that the reboot ever comes to recreating the premise of the original Predator, so you’d assume that the filmmakers would want to bask in that nostalgic feeling for a while and let the suspenseful atmosphere soak in. Right?
Wrong! For no appreciable reason, we rattle through the beats of the first movie in about 10 minutes, jettisoning all the necessary tension that made that film so effective. The pacing here is so rushed that you have no chance to keep track of what’s going on. People are being killed left-right-and-centre but it lands with minimal impact, because their deaths are barely registering amidst all of the bedlam. Meanwhile, a conceptually funny gag about an accidental suicide is completely botched by this hectic execution.
Worse still, the Predator himself doesn’t get a chance to demonstrate his hunting prowess, as he’s not given the opportunity to do anything clever or stealthy like in the previous installments. Instead, he too is under the pressure of studio mandated time-constraints, and just bluntly drops into the fray to start slicing people up. There’s no subtly to his action, no sense of ceremony and no creativity. What a shame.
5) Rampage: Yawn-Inducing Destruction
Somewhere along the line, the definition of ”self aware” must have altered. Because the phrase was previously used to describe witty movies that were cognizant of their own foibles and actively capitalized on that in the name of entertainment. Sometimes they would even go out of their way to poke fun at themselves and flip conventions on their head, ala Kingsman, Deadpool, Scream, or Thor Ragnarok.
Yet the term is increasingly being utilized as a lazy defense for outright trash. Take Rampage for example. Not once does this generic monster flick demonstrate that it’s ”aware” of it’s shitness. Pundits have only imposed that reading onto it because they know it’s terrible and want to justify their enjoyment of it. Which really isn’t necessary, because it’s fine to have guilty pleasures. What you can’t do however, is pretend that this film is knowingly ridiculous or that it has tried to do something clever. It’s just crap and, astonishingly, mundane.
Even the pyrotechnics here are kind of monotonous and unengaging (Look how grey they are!) because they never go all the way or crank the ridiculousness up to extremes. If the filmmakers were more self-aware then the destruction-fulled climax here could have been a riotous blast. After all, pitting the Rock against a trifecta of giant, mutant hybrids is a recipe for legitimately stunning or, at the very least, completely brainless mayhem. The problem is that Rampage‘s action is nowhere near OTT enough to really capitalise on this quality. Rather, it’s just curiously sterile, unimaginative and low-energy.
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