Newest film in franchise trades in scares for laughs.
What I liked about The Predator was the concept of a mask and its tie-ins with both human and alien complexities and in the fact that general assumptions about both are formed.
But ultimately, The Predator questions how different humans are than aliens they believe are hostile when they war against each other.
The Predator kicks off when an alien, known as the Predator, uncovers a military group and annihilates them all except for Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) who barely escapes.
McKenna, after he threatens a Mexican bar owner, sends a box to his P.O. with an alien mask and weaponry. But instead, his son Rory (Jacob Tremblay) unpacks the box when it arrives at his house.
Rory is a sixth-grader who is constantly bullied from the first moment he appears on screen. After a friend of his pulled the alarm, he experiences seizures from sounds he hears.
The sounds are later on revealed to be linked with aliens and Rory is a person with rare senses. After his friend rushes out of the room, he is replaced with bullies who mock Rory instead of offering empathy to his suffering.
The Predator only intensifies with the conflict, not just with the bullies but layers of other storylines have a common theme of who the man who will win out is.
The theme includes McKenna and the other military prisoners as well as the Predator and the other alien species. The film is also about human inward conflict, including that McKenna has been an absent father but still cares for Rory.
Meanwhile science professor Casey Bracket (Olivia Munn) is brought to the encased Predator which is 11 feet tall and has equal reptilian and human appearance.
From the time she was a little girl, she loved animals and wrote to the government if they ever discover a space creature, to call her and the government granted her request at a much later age. The Predator is lying on the table when she is introduced to it and it at first fascinates her.
Throughout the film, while the fascination does not disappear altogether, she acquires a stronger precaution about the creature, especially when it is hunting down Rory to take back its technology.
The Predator becomes much more involved when more of its kind emerge and there is an obvious difference between the giants and the small species like there was with Rory and his classmates.
After the giants completely destroy the smaller species, which they take only the best of, the other species becomes part of the strongest alien, known as the Predator.
In the middle of the chaos about one-third into the movie, the Predator comments how it has enjoyed the show in the humans killing each other which brings back the awareness of human reflection as to reasons why humans themselves cannot coexist.
As with most movies lately, there are mixed reviews about The Predator. Towards the end, the action scenes felt like they dragged on and I was looking for the resolution. When the movie reaches its ending, it feels like it is what the audience would expect.
Other general downsides I noted were racial or sexist comments, especially of Nebraska Williams (Trevante Rhodes) who was used as a joke throughout The Predator.
But the stereotyping and jokes could have been there for a purpose, to see how humans put down each other and in the end, have a tendency to lose because they are always fighting.
The best science fiction films are not just the ones with the impressive graphics or the most action but ones with messages about human character. While The Predator is not one of the best, it still fulfills enough satisfaction for it to be worth at least a couple watches.
Feature photo courtesy of The Associated Press.