Tag Archives: Shane Black

The Predator (2018) Review

Time: 107 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, sexual references & offensive language
Cast:
Boyd Holbrook as Quinn McKenna
Trevante Rhodes as Nebraska Williams
Jacob Tremblay as Rory McKenna
Olivia Munn as Casey Bracket
Sterling K. Brown as Will Traeger
Keegan-Michael Key as Coyle
Thomas Jane as Baxley
Alfie Allen as Lynch
Augusto Aguilera as Nettles
Yvonne Strahovski as Emily McKenna
Director: Shane Black

From the outer reaches of space to the small-town streets of suburbia, the hunt comes home. The universe’s most lethal hunters are stronger, smarter and deadlier than ever before, having genetically upgraded themselves with DNA from other species. When a boy (Jacob Tremblay) accidentally triggers their return to Earth, only a ragtag crew of ex-soldiers and an evolutionary biologist (Olivia Munn) can prevent the end of the human race.

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The Predator, the fourth film in the franchise, was on my most anticipated films of 2018 list. With a cast that included Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay, Thomas Jane and more, and on top of that, original Predator cast member Shane Black (who directed The Nice Guys, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Iron Man 3) being the writer and director of the movie, everything looked like it could be something great. With that said, I had some concerns in the lead up to its release. It looked way too comical, and I wasn’t really sure that would work for a Predator movie. The news about the large amount of reshoots and cuts didn’t make it any better (not to mention the controversy with a real predator originally being in the film, thankfully that was dealt with quickly). While I can understand a lot of the mixed reactions, I surprisingly found The Predator to be quite enjoyable. No, it’s not as good as the original, it’s not one of Shane Black’s best and yes it has some issues, but it also has some really good elements to it.

I should clarify that I’ve only seen the original Predator, so I can’t compare The Predator to the 2nd and 3rd movies (Predator 2 and Predators). However I didn’t feel lost so I feel like anyone who’s seen only the first movie could jump right into The Predator. Shane Black is a great writer, who wrote Lethal Weapon 1 and 2, The Last Boy Scout, The Long Kiss Goodnight as well as the films he’s directed (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Iron Man 3, The Nice Guys). Unfortunately his writing for The Predator is a very mixed bag. With regards to certain things like the dialogue, it feels like a B grade Shane Black was writing it and not Shane Black at the top of his game. You can definitely at times feel like it is his writing, but it’s not as strong. One thing I will say that Shane Black does do better with The Predator than the original Predator is that there is some attempt to have some emotional moments and depth with the characters. It almost always doesn’t work but I appreciate the genuine attempts. As good as the original Predator movie was, there was really nothing to these characters. On top of that, it does try some things different with the story, with a large amount of it being set in a suburbia (though we also get some sequences in the forest) and also being a much more comedic sort of movie. Now that doesn’t guarantee that the movie will be great but the best thing that each instalment can do is try different things. At the same time there are some problems with the movie. Some plot elements really don’t work well, such as Jacob Tremblay’s character who has Asperger’s and plays a big role in the movie, that plotline is a little too silly and doesn’t fit in with the movie. Shane Black has directed some very funny movies, his 3 previous movies all hit very hard whenever the comedy was present. With The Predator on the other hand, the comedy didn’t always work. It wasn’t painfully cringe worthy or anything like that, but a lot of it doesn’t work. I’m not sure if the comedic tone really works for the movie, but as I said before at least it is trying something different. There are some callbacks to the original Predator, and while I only picked up two, both of them were painful and hamfisted callbacks. To give an example of what I mean, one guy has a line “Get to the choppa” (that’s not a typo, he says choppa like Arnold Schwarzenegger in the original movie). The Predator is yet another movie that has been the victim of studio interference and cuts (by Fox Studios of course). Now its nowhere like what they did with Fant4stic, but you can definitely feel that something is off about it. This is especially prevalent in the third act, which feels like a more conventional movie and seems to lack a lot of the Shane Black writing from the two acts and feels really simplified. Also the way it ends with the Predator in the end feels underwhelming. The last scene in particular is going to be very divisive especially to long time fans of the Predator lore. It is sort of sequel bait and it’s really weird and I’m not even sure what to think about it. It really has to be seen to be believed.

The cast generally do quite well. Boyd Holbrook is the lead of the movie and he does quite well in his role, however he’s a rather simple and conventional protagonist, really just a passable character. The group that Holbrook’s character teams up with, ‘The Loonies’, fair much better in comparison. They consist of Trevante Rhodes, Keegan Michael Key, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen and Augusto Aguilera and they do well in their roles. Some are better than others, and you don’t necessarily care a great deal for the actual characters. but they all play off each other really well. Trevante Rhodes stands out as being particularly great. Olivia Munn works well in the movie for the most part (the scientist part to her character is a little hard to buy). Sterling K. Brown plays a 2 dimensional human villain and thankfully he plays up the role to being borderline cartoonish because the character is really generic and doesn’t have much to it. There were a lot of problems with Jacob Tremblay’s character but he plays his role well enough. Yvonne Strahovski really does play a really minor role, and really isn’t used to a fifth of her potential, her character could’ve been played by literally anyone and it wouldn’t have mattered.

Shane Black’s overall direction is pretty good. Larry Fong’s cinematography as always looks good. The action was for the most part was really good and entertaining, I like how it fully embraced its R rating and goes all out with violence. The effects for the most part worked really well, but other times it can look not so good. The CGI blood in particular looks absolutely terrible. I liked how they portrayed the Predators in this movie, being really big, intimidating and threatening. However the second Predator, much bigger than the first one, uses a lot of visual effects, and at times it can look really fake, particularly in the last act. The score by Henry Jackman is very reminiscent of the original Predator and it actually really worked for the movie.

The Predator clearly has some issues. It is a little disappointing and it doesn’t live up to the talent of the involvement of Shane Black, the cast and the name of the Predator franchise. Some of the weak humour, story points and other elements does hold back the movie from being anywhere close to being at the same level of the original. Still, there is some good stuff to be found in the movie. Some of Shane Black’s additions were good (even if it felt like B grade Shane Black most of the time), the cast worked well in their roles and it was quite entertaining generally. If you liked the original Predator, check it out knowing that it is filled with a lot of silly things and go into it expecting a somewhat entertaining movie. Again, wasn’t as bad as I feared it would be but wasn’t as good as I hoped it would be.

Predator (1987) Review

Time: 107 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Arnold Schwarzenegger as Major Alan “Dutch” Schaefer
Carl Weathers as Al Dillon
Elpidia Carrillo as Anna Gonsalves
Bill Duke as Mac Elliot
Richard Chaves as Jorge “Poncho” Ramírez
Jesse Ventura as Blain Cooper
Sonny Landham as Billy Sole
Shane Black as Rick Hawkins
R. G. Armstrong as Major General Homer Phillips
Kevin Peter Hall as The Predator/helicopter pilot
Director: John McTiernan

Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a soldier of fortune, is hired by the U.S. government to secretly rescue a group of politicians trapped in Guatemala. But when Dutch and his team, which includes weapons expert Blain (Jesse Ventura) and CIA agent George (Carl Weathers), land in Central America, something is gravely wrong. After finding a string of dead bodies, the crew discovers they are being hunted by a brutal creature with superhuman strength and the ability to disappear into its surroundings.

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With the latest Predator movie coming in under a month from now, I decided to check out the original film again. Predator was a pretty big hit upon its release and would lead to 2 (now 3) sequels and a couple of crossover films with the Alien franchise. While the reaction to Predator upon it’s release was mixed, it become more beloved over time. Watching Predator for a second time, I have to say that it is still a really entertaining 80s action movie. It may not be one of my favourite action movies of all time but I still really like it and it does have its place in action cinema.

Predator is a rather straightforward action movie that is rather thin on plot. The first third is a seemingly standard action movie, and the rest is a survival against a mysterious killer who’s picking each of them off. The highlight of the film without a doubt though was the third act with Arnold Schwarzenegger and The Predator facing off. It’s glorious to watch, and I like how Arnold has to go to ‘primal’ tactics to fight the Predator instead of just using all the guns that they have in most of the movie. One effective thing about the Predator in this movie is that the movie doesn’t just show it in all its glory (of course its not quite as impactful now that we all know what it looks like). As I said earlier, there isn’t a lot of depth to the story or the characters, and it’s not that unpredictable. However for the type of movie it’s trying to be, it works well enough most of the time. With that said, there is a death halfway into the movie that is lingered on for too long and it feels stretched out. It’s not like it left any emotional impact, we don’t feel much for the character’s death because we didn’t particularly learn much about said character and weren’t given any particular reason to like him. So really it would’ve just been better to move past that death scene reasonably quickly. Outside of that segment, Predator is pretty consistent in its hour and 46 minute running time.

The cast with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Elpidia Carrillo, Bill Duke, Richard Chaves, Jesse Ventura, Sonny Landham and Shane Black do a good job in the movie. As I said before, none of these characters get any characterisation or depth and so they don’t really get to do much with their roles. Arnold Schwarzenegger does quite well once again in an action role, there’s no real depth given to him here but he is believable enough in his role and is great in the action scenes, particularly in the third act.

John McTiernan is a very good action director with Die Hard, The Hunt for Red October and Die Hard with a Vengeance and Predator is yet another solid action flick from him. The gun battle (there’s really just one in the first act) and all the action scenes are really done well. The locations really works, it makes you feel like you’re in the jungle and it doesn’t feel fake for at least most of it. It really feels like an 80s action movie, with the sound effects, CGI, explosions, sparks and music by Alan Silvestri, which could really work for you or not, but you do need to go into it expecting an 80s movie. Some of it can look really dated, such as the cloaking effects, also some of the POV shots from the Predator’s perspective in the third act were kind of messy. On another note, the design of the Predator itself is quite great, it feels effective and while we don’t learn the background of these aliens (I don’t know if we ever get to learn in the movies) it works well for this movie.

Predator is a really solid action movie and watching it you can really see why it made such an impact when it was released. Not all of it has aged well, it has a very thin plot with thin characters, and I’m not sure if I’d personally put it on the best action movies of all time list, but it is still essential viewing for anyone who loves action movies.

The Nice Guys (2016) Review

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The Nice Guys

Time: 116 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Contains Violence, Nudity, Sex Scenes & Offensive Language
Cast:
Russell Crowe as Jackson Healy
Ryan Gosling as Holland March
Angourie Rice as Holly March
Matt Bomer as John Boy
Margaret Qualley as Amelia Kutner
Murielle Telio as Misty Mountains
Keith David as Older Guy
Kim Basinger as Judith Kutner
Director: Shane Black

Holland March (Ryan Gosling) is a down-on-his-luck private eye in 1977 Los Angeles. Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) is a hired enforcer who hurts people for a living. Fate turns them into unlikely partners after a young woman named Amelia (Margaret Qualley) mysteriously disappears. Healy and March soon learn the hard way that some dangerous people are also looking for Amelia. Their investigation takes them to dark places as anyone else who gets involved in the case seems to wind up dead.

Score after first viewing:
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Score after second viewing:
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The main reason that I was interested in this movie was the people involved, that being Ryan Gosling, Russell Crowe and director Shane Black. Shane Black is a very talented director, who created the underrated Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and of course, Gosling and Crowe are very great actors. Having seen it now, I am so happy to say that The Nice Guys is one of my favourite films of the year so far. The great direction, entertaining and committed acting (particularly from Crowe and Gosling) is topped off by a fantastic screenplay, making this a must see film.

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Shane Black is an incredible writer and director, so it’s no surprise that the script for The Nice Guys is absolutely fantastic. And as you probably could tell by now, this movie is hilarious, all the jokes hit, and they hit hard. In retrospect it’s a dark comedy and the tone need to be balanced out well and it really was. The dialogue is on point, well suited for every character. The mystery is actually intriguing as well, so it’s not just a fun and entertaining watch, it’s interesting to watch these characters unravel the mystery.

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Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe are the main stars of the movie and are absolutely fantastic. It would be so easy for the dynamic between them to be similar to other buddy cop movies, where two guys who are vastly different, who don’t like each other are for whatever reason paired together. These characters aren’t complete opposites of each other (they are just a little different from each other), they work together well, both are clearly capable at what they do, and so the characters aren’t clichéd and the movie doesn’t follow some of the clichés that a lot of similar movies do. Somehow most the other characters are also memorable. The biggest showstealer for me however was Angourie Rice, who plays Ryan Gosling’s daughter, she was absolutely fantastic. Her character is the smart kid who’s often trying to help the main leads and even though this character is done hundreds of times before, it’s not written in a clichéd way and she sells this character as being quite capable.

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The action was surprisingly great, very appropriately filmed as if it was in the 70s. The cinematography was quite great and beautiful. The production design was ripped straight out of the 70s, the time period is very easy to buy. This film really feels like it could’ve been filmed in the 70s, just with better film stock. I have no idea if that was Black’s intention, but if it was, major props to him.

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The Nice Guys is one of the best movies I’ve seen in 2016. Everything from the script, to the direction and the acting (especially from Crowe and Gosling) is done perfectly. I definitely recommend that you see this movie, especially if you have a love of film, it’s entertaining, it’s smartly written, it’s absolutely fantastic.

Iron Man 3 (2013) Review

IRON MAN 3, Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, 2013. ph: Zade Rosenthal/??Walt Disney Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection

Iron Man 3

Time: 130 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man
Gwyneth Paltrow as Virginia “Pepper” Potts
Don Cheadle as Col. James “Rhodey” Rhodes/Iron Patriot
Guy Pearce as Aldrich Killian
Rebecca Hall as Maya Hansen
Stephanie Szostak as Brandt
Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan
Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin
Director: Shane Black

Plagued with worry and insomnia since saving New York from destruction, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), now, is more dependent on the suits that give him his Iron Man persona — so much so that every aspect of his life is affected, including his relationship with Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow). After a malevolent enemy known as the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) reduces his personal world to rubble, Tony must rely solely on instinct and ingenuity to avenge his losses and protect the people he loves.

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Iron Man 3 was the start of Marvel’s phase 2 and while most people would say that Iron Man 3 is better than Iron Man 2, there were still some criticisms of it. Iron Man 3 was a pretty divisive movie upon its release, I’m one of the people who really liked it. It still has its flaws but I still enjoy it. Iron Man 3 has even better action, good acting, a good plot and it’s entertaining. I think the majority of the criticism was because of a certain aspect of the plot, which while understandable, doesn’t drag down the movie in any way.

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Iron Man 3 didn’t really play a big part in the universe, when all things are considered, Iron Man 2 is more relevant than Iron Man 3. However the story is better, instead of multiple plotlines that don’t always move well together it has a pretty controlled story that it follows and all the plotlines are interwoven together much better. Also the writing from Shane Black was good and you definitely tell. This movie is both the darkest and the funniest of the Iron Man movies and it works. Not all the aspects of the movie are great though. There’s a decision that Tony makes early on which is quite possibly the dumbest decision that he’s made, and that’s a lot considering the fact that he created Ultron later on. There is also a plot twist which will annoy some comic book fans that I won’t spoil for those who don’t know. While I can understand why people would be upset with it, it didn’t bother me a lot because it was well done in the context of the story.

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Robert Downey Jr is great, it’s almost pointless talking about how great he is, he is Iron Man. This movie reminded me of Dark Knight Rises, in that there was much more Tony Stark than Iron Man and I think it really payed off in the end. The supporting actors also did good work. Don Cheadle was even better here than he was in Iron Man 2, Gwyneth Paltrow was also good here. Guy Pearce was great in his role, Ben Kingsley is good in his role, Rebecca Hall is a good actress and does fine in this movie but her character was sort of underdeveloped and so she didn’t have a lot to work with.

"Marvel's Iron Man 3" Iron Patriot Ph: Zade Rosenthal © 2012 MVLFFLLC. TM & © 2012 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

The action scenes here are even better than the previous Iron Man movies. Tony Stark’s suits are quite different and now he can control them without even being in them, which leads to lots of entertaining opportunities which the film takes advantage of. While the third acts of the previous films have disappointed, the third act in Iron Man 3 is great and is definitely better than in the previous films.

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Iron Man 3 is a pretty good movie but I don’t know if I can call it a great movie. The acting is good, the action is good, the writing is better than the previous film and I was entertained all the way through. Sometimes there are some flaws like some convenient writing and the massive change in the comic books. The only great Iron Man movie that’s been released has been the first one, but in my opinion all of them are good.