‘The Predator (2018)’ review: Gratuitously violent and offensive

Shane Black’s ‘The Predator’ is a deviation to the horror-action classic and this is not the film’s biggest problem.

I understand Shane Black’s decision to take the risk here. The succeeding sequels to the 1987 Predator revamped the franchise by introducing larger predators and moving the story outside Earth. Then there’s the horrendous idea of pitting them against aliens, which spawned two spin-off films – by far the lowest point of the series. Several movies in and the camouflage is already off, we all know what the beast looks like beneath its mask. Where can this film go after being rehashed several times? Shane Black’s idea: spin it into a black comedy. The trailer makes it look like it’s not. But trust me, it is.

The resulting tone is actually closer to the original – Black also happens to have a small role in it way back – but this sequel is quite irreverent to be classified under the horror genre. It almost works as a satire where the film falls prey of its masculinity.

At its center is an army ranger Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) who survives a run-in with a predator during his overseas mission. He seizes its helmet and gauntlet for evidence and for some reason, he thinks it’s best to ship these items to his home address. The package finds its way to his son Rory (Jacob Tremblay), who plays with it and accidentally summons another predator to their town. How can the kid decode such alien technology? Through the help of his autism disorder, the film says. I can imagine a lot of psychologists shaking their heads with the misconception that this film gives.

Boyd Holbrook and Jacob Tremblay in ‘The Predator.’ Photo via 20th Century Fox.

It does not stop there. Psychological disorders are not only dismissed as convenient plot points but also as a source of gags. McKenna gets imprisoned for hiding the alien tech and once we step inside the prison bus, the film introduces a ragtag band of ex-military misfits who will help McKenna save his son from danger. Nebraska (Trevante Rhodes) is a smooth-talking, suicide case, Coyle (Keegan-Michael Key) is loud and mentally unstable, Baxley (Thomas Jane) has Tourette’s syndrome that causes him to yell obscenities, Nettles (Augusto Aguilera) is a dimwit pilot who suffered from a traumatic brain injury and Lynch (Alfie Allen) is an explosives expert who’s probably the least crazy of them all.

The film then starts hitting you with an endless barrage of crass, middle-school level jokes that are pulled out of thin air. Coyle yells at Baxley, “How do you circumcise a homeless man? Kick your mom on the chin!” A few minutes later, he comes up with a different punchline, “If your mom’s vagina were a video game, it’d be rated E for Everyone!” This film clearly doesn’t want to be taken seriously. I would have really embraced Black’s idea, if not only for the fact that this franchise is a horror classic that has actual stakes. The tone of this sequel does not support this notion at all.

The humor is intentionally offensive and misogynist. As long as you’re not offended and you dumb down enough, it’ll be funny. But then it becomes sad and uncomfortable when you realize that you’re laughing at these psychologically damaged people. It feels exploitative. The humor of the original Predator works because it’s served in small doses. In here, the humor is in service of itself and not the plot.

Alfie Allen, Keegan Michael-Key, Thomas Jane, Augusto Aguilera, Boyd Holbrook and Trevante Rhodes in ‘The Predator.’ Photo via 20th Century Fox.

Nonetheless, the supporting characters earn their charm, and you kinda wish along the way that everyone gets spared. But this is The Predator and what boring film will it be if there are no deaths. When it gets to the carnage, it’s gratuitously violent and visceral – decapitation, disembowelment, skewering, you name it.

The tagline boasts that “the hunt has evolved” and while there’s not much new to alien tech, the predators here don’t merely exist to hunt. They now have a more discernible purpose which will be revealed along the way. There’s a Super Predator still in play and to top that, the film unleashes some ‘predator dogs’ as well.

Olivia Munn and Sterling K. Brown in ‘The Predator.’ Photo via 20th Century Fox.

Surprisingly, the film pits humans against each other more so than against predators. Will Traeger (Sterling K. Brown), a trigger-happy, government guy has his own reasons for capturing the monsters. He hires evolutionary biologist Dr. Casey Bracket (Olivia Munn) who becomes the film’s target of inappropriate attention. With her character not being treated seriously by the script, Munn’s performance falls short of convincing. Likewise, Holbrook does not leave a lasting impression close enough to even what half of THE Arnold Schwarzenegger gives.

The Predator jams many ideas – genetic modification, global warming, government conspiracies and predator factions – in such a breakneck pace that it’s far from being boring. I am generally entertained from start to finish. However, for the most part, the film is preoccupied in committing to be a black comedy when all it manages to be is an offensive and unfocused, hot mess. Also, the end reveal is served clunky. Does this sequel justify the resurgence of the iconic crab-faced super alien? No. As a Shane Black fan, I am disappointed. I’d rather rewatch something like Annihilation.

2.5 out of 5 stars

Directed by Shane Black, written by Fred Dekker and Shane Black
Cast: Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Olivia Munn, Jacob Tremblay, Sterling K. Brown, Keegan-Michael Key, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen, Augusto Aguilera, Yvonne Strahovski, Jake Busey, Niall Matter, and Brian A. Prince.
Run time: 107 minutes

Award-winning young actor Jacob Tremblay triggers return of ‘The Predator’

From the outer reaches of space to the to the backwoods of southern Georgia, the hunt comes home in director Shane Black’s explosive reinvention of the Predator series. Now, the universe’s most lethal hunters are stronger, smarter and deadlier than ever before. And only a ragtag crew of ex-soldiers and an evolutionary biology professor can prevent the end of the human race.

Young gifted child Rory (Jacob Tremblay), unknowingly triggers the return of “The Predator” to Earth when he tinkered with the package that contains alien technology his dad , Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook), sent to their home from a recent military mission. With the government attempting to cover up the extent of Predator incursions on Earth, a rag-tag group of military veterans must figure out what is going on and how to save the world – or at least themselves – as the battle spreads from the depths of outer space to once-safe suburbia. Rory’s gift for solving puzzles helps him understand the Predator language. “He’s really good at figuring out the Predator,” Tremblay says.

Shane Black directs an extraordinary cast from the script he penned with Fred Dekker. Boyd Holbrook heads the ensemble which also stars Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay, Keegan-Michael Key, Olivia Munn, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen, Augusto Aguilera, and Sterling K. Brown. “The Predator” is produced by John Davis, who brought the seminal Predator franchise to life.

Twentieth Century Fox presents “The Predator.”

Quinn’s son, Rory, is on the autism spectrum. To help research his role, Tremblay and Black paid several visits to the Canucks Autism Network, a Vancouver-based organization providing sports and recreational programs for individuals with autism. “We made friends and got to hang out with some of the kids,” says Tremblay.

“This wonderful little boy was probably the most dependable actor in the cast,” says Black about Jacob Tremblay, who plays Rory. “He’s a one-take wonder.” Black notes that when they were pressed for time, they never needed to worry about young Tremblay hitting his marks. “We’d get all three shots because he’d do every one perfect, the first take!”

Jacob Tremblay has quickly established himself as one of the industry’s finest working young actors. Tremblay garnered international recognition for his breakout performance opposite ‪Brie Larson in the critically-acclaimed, Oscar-nominated film Room. Tremblay received the “Breakthrough Performance Award” from the National Board of Review, a Critics’ Choice Award from the Broadcast Film Critics Association for “Best Young Actor,” and a nomination for “Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role” by the Screen Actors Guild, among other accolades, for his performance in the film.

“The Predator” opens September 12 nationwide in cinemas from 20th Century Fox.

Novel-turned-movie ‘Wonder’ stars Julia Roberts, Jacob Tremblay, Owen Wilson

Based on the New York Times bestselling novel “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio and directed by Stephen Chbosky (“Perks of being a Wildflower”), the amazing movie adaptation stars Academy Award winning actress (“Erin Brokovich”) Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson (“Marley & Me”), with Jacob Tremblay (“Room”).

“You are not ugly, and anyone who cares to know you will see that.” The world is full of insecurities, but when one kid changes the way people see things, it breaks barriers and sets in new norms for everyone around us, seeing how people that love us the most would do anything for us to fit into the society and that we should spread the thing the world needs these days, Kindness.

“Wonder” tells the inspiring and heartwarming story of August Pullman (Jacob Tremblay). Born with facial differences that, up until now, have prevented him from going to a mainstream school, Auggie becomes the most unlikely of heroes when he enters mainstream school on his fifth grade.

As his family, his new classmates, and the larger community all struggle to find their compassion and acceptance, Auggie’s extraordinary journey will unite them all and prove you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.

During her appearance in The Late Show with James Corden, Julia Roberts who plays Auggie’s mom Isabel Pullman, had nothing but praises as she sums up what “Wonder” is all about.

“We can always use more kindness in our lives, but I think right now is really a good time to be reminded of maybe sharpening our kindness skills.”

The film co-stars Hollywood’s Mandy Patinkin (“Homeland”), Crystal Lowe (“Final Destination 3”), Daveed Diggs (“Hamilton”) and Izabela Vidovic (“The Fosters”)

“Wonder” is sure to spread kindness to everyone as it hits theaters nationwide starting November 29, 2017 as distributed by Pioneer Films.

MOVIE REVIEW: Room (2015)

Room can be perceived in countless ways. One, it could be anything but a claustrophobic look at the lives of a mother and her five year-old son who has been living in a ten-by-ten feet enclosed, windowless, sound-proof space for several years—a harrowing idea of imprisonment and deprivation liberty and sanity. In another hand, it could be something like a keen observation of human’s stability and the struggle to make a wonderful escape.

There is tightness in how Room comes about as a film that showcases the triumphant acting of Brie Larson in her most passionate and strenuous efforts to date. Much so is Jacob Tremblay’s portrayal as he is able to paint his character with an excellent stroke as if he has mastered the craft long since. Together, they form not only an extraordinary mother-and-son bond but a well-built familial connection that runs over blood and ties.

jacob tremblay and brie larson in ROOM

Nothing is there to complain about the mundane activities they do inside the aptly named Room. Since there is actually not much to do other than Joy teaching Jack and Jack suiting himself into growing up according to his Ma, it is with curious eyes to peek into the life they share. Given the abundance of hope seeping through the tiny holes of what could have been their deficit, it is more than thrilling to witness either the success or the failure of their attempt to face the real world after years of captivity.

And in the event that plans turn out well, victory is inevitable. Nevertheless, Room does not stop where it should. Rightfully, it steers into an eye-opening paradise of high-rise building and modern living, a place where no activity is small, and many, many things are happening all at once. As Jacob perceives the “outside world”—one that is away from a singular wardrobe, table, chair, toilet, sink, tub and skylight—he discovers not just what it is really like to live but also realizes that nothing compares to spending every passing minute with his mother.

jacob tremblay and brie larson in ROOM

Director Lenny Abrahamson did a great job in helming the powerful novel penned by Emma Donoghue. Together, they were able to transform a moving story into a life-affirming piece of work that is equally affecting and memorable. It is not difficult to be glued into Room’s well-paced tale as well as its heart-breaking message. Everything just smoothly comes across by breaking that intimidating wall that separates the film from its audience.

One way or another, we have that little space inside us where we are held captive by our own equal share of misery and optimism. There is joy in looking back at the wonders of Room and recognizing that its story of love and hope is universal. We might still be comfortably residing within it but there is more to life that is meant to be explored and ultimately to be rediscovered.

Room triumphantly tells its touching story without alienating its viewers and that is a simple feat to be remembered in the years to come.

Academy Award frontrunner ‘Room’ relates unbreakable mother-son bond

This year’s strong contender and frontrunner in the 88th Oscars, “Room” being nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actress takes the audience on a visceral experience as we are introduced to the cramped world of the five-year-old Jack (Jacob Tremblay) and his Ma named Joy (Brie Larson), where he was born and grew up. But at night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick (Sean Bridgers) comes.

In “Room,” Jack’s Ma had been abducted by Old Nick and had been imprisoned at the backyard in his shed for seven years, where she had Jack after Old Nick repeatedly abused her. When Jack turned five, Joy hatches an escape plan so Jack can live a normal life. Her selfless act would also prove of their unbreakable bond as mother and son as she prepares Jack for the dangerous escape.

Based on the bestselling and multi-awarded book of the same name by author Emma Donoghue, told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, “Room” is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another

The book’s darkness was offset by an undercurrent of love – messy, flawed, burdened, never-ending love – that runs throughout. Says Donoghue: “One of the ideas behind Room is that children have this natural tendency to thrive. So long as they’re getting love and affection, even if it’s in dark or incomprehensible circumstances, they’re so adaptable, they’ll find a way to be OK and to grow up.”

The role of the woman who is known to Jack simply as Ma, runs the gamut of maternal triumphs and maternal agonies, from fear and regret to awe and unwavering love. All of that came through in a gritty, unsentimentalized way in Brie Larson who won this year’s Best Actress Award at the Golden Globes.

Larson approached Ma with extreme commitment, leaving no stone unturned – from altering her physique to conducting intense psychological research on confinement – in her quest to do justice to who Ma is, what she has gone through in Room and how she focuses every last bit of herself on Jack’s future. She knew part of her task was to embody Ma’s stark contradictions. On the one hand, she approached Ma as still very much a child herself, a girl stolen away from her promising life on the cusp of adulthood and forced to grow a stony emotional armor around her to survive. “I don’t think Ma ever expected to get out of Room,” Larson states. “She knew that hope can be a trickster. But I think she always believed Jack would get out. When she made an escape plan for Jack, it was a selfless act. She had to believe Jack would make it, but I don’t think she ever considered that she might make it out, too, and have another chance at life and being a mother.”

Director Lenny Abrahamson was floored by Larson’s devotion to immersing herself in Ma’s POV. “I’d worried so much about finding Jack, but if we hadn’t found Brie, this film could never be what it is,” he says. “She’s so deft in her abilities, and so willing to go all the way, I don’t think anyone else could have brought Ma to life with so much emotional truthfulness.”

Larson explains that her connection to the character and the entire story has a personal link. Growing up poor herself for a time, with a mother recovering from a divorce, Larson had once lived in her own tiny, dilapidated but slightly enchanted enclave, a bit like Jack. “When we first moved to Los Angeles, my mom, me and my sister lived in a one-room studio apartment that was maybe twice the size of Room. We had very little money, we couldn’t even afford a Happy Meal at McDonald’s and we each had like three pieces of clothing and a couple of toys,” Larson describes. “Yet, there was something really simple and a little magical about that time. We still talk about it as one of the best times in our lives. For my mom, I know there was a tremendous amount of pain as she tried to figure out who she was and how to support two kids on her own. But I also remember it as a time when I really learned the power of the imagination. We didn’t have much, but my mom could create games out of anything, even little sugar packets. ”

“Room” opens February 17, 2016 in cinemas from Pioneer Films.

Academy Award-nominated film ‘Room’ opens Feb 17 in PH

The highly-acclaimed tearjerker film “Room” where the audience rooted for the mother and son’s chance at freedom who were imprisoned in a sound-proof shed for seven years will now open in local cinemas on February 17.

Based on the international bestselling book written by Emma Donoghue of the same title, director Lenny Abrahamson brings the highly suspenseful and emotional story “Room” to the big screen. “Room” is a unique and unexpectedly tender exploration of the boundless love between a mother and her child under the most harrowing of circumstances.

“Room” tells the extraordinary story of Jack (Jacob Tremblay in a breakout performance), a spirited 5 year-old who is looked after by his loving and devoted Ma (Brie Larson, who won Best Actess in this year’s Golden Globe Awards for here performance in the movie). Like any good mother, Ma dedicates herself to keeping Jack happy and safe, nurturing him with warmth and love and doing typical things like playing games and telling stories. Their life, however, is anything but typical—they are trapped—confined to a windowless, 10-by-10-foot space, which Ma has euphemistically named “Room.” Ma has created a whole universe for Jack within Room, and she will stop at nothing to ensure that, even in this treacherous environment, Jack is able to live a complete and fulfilling life. But as Jack’s curiosity about their situation grows, and Ma’s resilience reaches its breaking point, they enact a risky plan to escape, ultimately bringing them face-to-face with what may turn out to be the scariest thing yet: the real world. “Room” also stars three-time Academy Award® nominee Joan Allen and Academy Award® nominee William H. Macy.

Director Lenny Abrahamson remains faithful to the novel while bringing Jack, Ma and their entirely singular world to heart-pounding and intensely cinematic life. “Room” demonstrates the triumphant power of familial love even in the darkest of circumstances, and is sure to take its place among the most emotionally affecting films to ever explore the bond between parents and children.

The New York Times hailed Donoghue’s novel as ‘one of the pure triumphs of recent fiction… palm-sweatingly harrowing’, while Time called it ‘a feat of infectious claustrophobia’; the Irish Times described it as ‘part childhood adventure story, part adult thriller… above all the most vivid, radiant and beautiful expression of maternal love’.

Abrahamson, says ‘Room’ is an extraordinary novel – deeply original, harrowing, full of moments of almost unbearable tension, but also – and this is what is so special about it – profoundly life-affirming. From the moment I read it I wanted to make it for the screen and so I am truly delighted to be working with Emma on the film adaptation.’

Emma Donoghue, who lives in Canada, began writing the screenplay as soon as Room (her seventh novel) was published. She is overjoyed to be making the film with her fellow Dubliners Abrahamson and Guiney. ‘It wasn’t just Lenny’s award-winning, impeccably honest films that won me over, but a ten-page letter he sent me, describing with passionate intelligence his vision of how to translate my novel into cinema. As an Irish company with strong international relationships, Element has a track record of combining artistic integrity and commercial appeal, which gives me confidence that “Room” is going to be something very special.’

Get your tissues ready for a unique bonding experience when “Room” opens February 17, 2016 in cinemas from Pioneer Films.